Projecting North America's initial 16-man World Cup roster
It's an immensely talented but limited prospect pool for Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman to scrutinize in their construction of the novelty North American roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Like in choosing any team there will be difficult decisions, but with a couple hundred players to pluck from, narrowing it down to 16 proved quite simple.
Here are the stars rising fastest, and those we believe will be named to Team North America's initial roster on March 2.
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets
- North America's roster boasts seven players in the top 75 of league scoring. This doesn't include McDavid, whose 4.01 points per 60 minutes is tops in the NHL.
- The 23-year-old Couturier will be relied on to play a paramount two-way, Patrice Bergeron-type role for the young stars. He's the team's lone pivot with a shutdown pedigree.
- Alex Galchenyuk, Mark Scheifele, and Max Domi would have to be considered front-runners for the final three spots, but Boone Jenner might be the right type of player to fill a niche.
Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers
Dougie Hamilton, Calgary Flames
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
- The league's fourth-most efficient scorer among defensemen with 0.84 points per game, Gostisbehere has rocketed from relative unknown to a lock for this roster.
- Morgan Rielly and Jacob Trouba are clear favorites to claim two of three remaining spots in the defensive rotation. Colton Parayko, Matt Dumba, and Noah Hanifin are among those who'll challenge for for the seven slot.
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
- Gibson's the only active NHL starter eligible for selection, but in his 26-game stint with Winnipeg, Hellebyuck was actually able to rack up more wins.
- Matt Murray impressed with the Penguins with Marc-Andre Fleury out, while Edmonton's Laurent Brossoit is an exciting prospect who should earn consideration.