Team USA announced its selection camp roster for the 2016 World Junior Championships, and a Maple Leafs prospect was a surprising omission from the final list of the 29 best U20 American players.
Kitchener Rangers forward Jeremy Bracco did not make the cut for the selection camp roster despite posting 18 points in 15 games for the Rangers this season.
Bracco was on Team USA's selection camp roster last season and made it all the way to the final cuts before the tournament, so to not even make it to camp this year is quite a surprise. The 18-year-old also spent two seasons playing with the US National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., which is usually a sure way to earn a tryout for the World Junior team.
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According to Waterloo Region Record reporter Josh Brown, Bracco is not pleased by the snub.
“It doesn't really make sense to me,” Bracco told Brown. “I thought I deserved to at least go to camp and show myself. I think they were afraid that if they took me to camp like they did last year, that I should make the team.
“It sucks and I thought I deserved to be there.”
There has been plenty of speculation on social media as to why Team USA would leave Bracco off the roster. One theory is that USA Hockey is not happy with Bracco after the 18-year-old left Boston College during the early days of the 2015-16 season to go play junior hockey in Canada. ESPN reporter Corey Pronman hinted that Team USA head coach Ron Wilson might not like Bracco, as Pronman pointed out that Bracco's ice time took a hit when he was coached by Wilson.
Others say USA hockey officials do not like the way Bracco responded to being cut last year, but like everything on social media, all of these ideas are simply theories, as Team USA has not offered an official explanation as to why Bracco did not make the team.
Team USA will hold its training camp from Dec. 14-18 at Agganis Arena in Boston. The final roster will be announced by Dec. 24.