Players from 14 states were invited to the national junior evaluation camp in August. But of the 40 forwards and defensemen who will be in Lake Placid, N.Y., trying for spots on the U.S. team in the World Junior Championships, only four are Minnesotans. Three of the four are defensemen.
So the State of Hockey has just 1 out of every 10. Should that be a red flag for the development of players in Minnesota? Or is this an aberration?
The four Minnesotans with invitations:
Nick Bjugstad, Gophers: He had a forgettable first half in his freshman season at the U, but came on strong. He also played for the U.S. team in 2011 when it took third place at the World Juniors in Buffalo, N.Y. From Blaine.
Justin Holl, Gophers: Tall, slender 6-2 defensman who showed hints as a U freshman that he could be a solid blue-liner. From Tonka Bay.
Justin Faulk, UMD: Was best defensman as freshman for the NCAA champions last season; signed pro contract in offseason. From South St. Paul.
Derek Forbort, North Dakota: Freshman defenseman last season for the Sioux who won the WCHA regular-season and Final Five title. From Duluth.
There were five Minnesotans on the last U.S. team: Bjugstad, Faulk, Forbort, and defenseman Nick Leddy (Eden Prairie) of the Gophers and forward Brock Nelson (Warroad) of North Dakota.
Have to wonder a bit why forward Seth Ambroz and defenseman Ben Marshall, two incoming Gophers freshmen, didn't receive invitations. Both had solid years for Omaha in the USHL, although Ambroz's NHL stock fell.
Here is a breakdown of players, by state, invited to the camp:
Five: California and Massachusetts
Three: Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania
Two: Colorado and Texas
One: Alabama, Maryland, Nevada and New Jersey
Goalie invitations have not gone out yet.