Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey locked up their goaltenders early, naming Corey Schneider, Ben Bishop, and Jonathan Quick to the preliminary roster announced this March for the upcoming tournament.
With only four defensemen named to begin with, though, the team had a number of decisions that needed to be made for their finalized roster – which was released on Friday afternoon:
Carolina Hurricanes top defenseman Justin Faulk has been noticeably left out of the blue line roster, although some of the others named on Friday – including Washington Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen – likely made it hard to consider him a lock (and ultimately passed him over).
He isn’t the only name left off that surprised fans, though.
Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel has put up 18 points in 18 postseason games for the Metropolitan Division club, and he’s a former Team USA mainstay. His 59 points in 82 games this year are the lowest point production he’s put up since the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, but he remains one of the best American-born pure goal scorers in the league.
Seeing him left off Team USA may be the most shocking thing of all, especially as he gets geared up to play in the Stanley Cup Final. Seeing names like Justin Abdelkader get the nod over him may remain bigger questions of all those being brought up with the final roster announcements on Friday.