Chicago Blackhawks prospects Alex Vlasic (defenseman), Drew Commesso (goaltender), and Landon Slaggert (forward) were named to the United States’ 2021 World Junior Championship preliminary roster on Monday. 29 players were invited to Team USA’s camp, which runs from Dec. 6-13 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan, but only 25 will make the trip to Edmonton, Alberta. The tournament is currently set to be played from Dec. 25 through Jan. 5 but could be pushed back with Team Canada in the midst of a 14-day quarantine that ends on Dec. 10.
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) November 30, 2020
The Blackhawks’ 2019 second-round pick (No. 43 overall) has already represented the United States a couple of times in his young career. In 2017, Vlasic played for the U.S. U17 Team at the World Hockey Championship and tallied one goal and two assists in six games. Vlasic also played for the United States at the 2018 U18 World Junior Championship, notching one assist in six games en route to a Bronze Medal. However, Vlasic was cut from the 2019 World Juniors roster at Team USA’s Summer Showcase. The 6-foot-6, Wilmette, Illinois native will look to make the final roster this time around following a strong freshman season at Boston University in which he recorded four assists in 34 games and finished sixth on the team in blocked shots (31). Vlasic and the Terriers will kick off their 2020-21 regular season on Friday, Dec. 4 against Vermont.
Commesso has yet to play for the United States at a World Junior Championship, but he did represent his country at the 2017 U17 World Hockey Championship along with Vlasic. The Boston, Massachusetts native spent the past two years playing for the United States National Team Development Program, and he also helped Team USA win the U18 Five Nations Tournament in November 2019 with three wins in as many starts. Commesso, a 6-foot-2, 181-pound netminder, has a strong shot to make his first World Juniors roster this year, but he may not receive much playing time with Spencer Knight expected to be in the crease most games for Team USA. The Blackhawks 2020 second-round pick (No. 46 overall) is currently teammates with Vlasic at Boston University where he will look to build off a breakout 2019-20 campaign with the USNTDP.
Like Vlasic and Commesso, Slaggert played for the United States National Team Development Program before going on to play college hockey. All three players were teammates on the U.S. U17 World Hockey Championship team in 2017, and they all helped the United States win the Five Nations Tournament in November 2019. Slaggert and Commesso also spent the last two years together with the USNTDP. The Blackhawks 2020 third-round pick (No. 79 overall) registered 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists in 2018-19, 13 goals, 11 assists in 2019-20) in back-to-back seasons and established himself as a gritty two-way forward. With all the depth up front for Team USA, Slaggert may not have a spot on the final roster, but his versatility could keep him around. If not, Slaggert will head back to the University of Notre Dame, where he is currently a freshman and has one assist through four games.