Jake Guentzel will soon get to check something off his list that he surprisingly hasn’t yet done: wear the red, white and blue colors and represent his country playing hockey. Team USA coach for the 2023 World Championships, David Quinn, told “The Athletic Hockey Show” yesterday that Guentzel is among the headliners of the team they are working to put together.
Guentzel will be joined by a couple of Penguin teammates as well.
Jake Guentzel and Alex Tuch, 36-goal scorers last season for the Penguins and Sabres, will both be on the roster, head coach David Quinn told “The Athletic Hockey Show.”
Guentzel, 28, has two other 40-goal seasons on his resume but has never represented the U.S., partially because the Penguins had made the playoffs in each of his first six NHL seasons. Tuch, 26, is an alum of the U.S. National Development Team Program and played for the national U17, U18 and U20 teams.
Quinn also confirmed that Canucks winger Conor Garland, coming off 46- and 52-point seasons and a member of the 2021 team; Penguins goalie Casey DeSmith, a five-year NHL vet who had a .905 save percentage in 38 appearances last season and Nick Bonino, a bottom-six fixture for more than a decade who has twice previously played at worlds, will all be on the team’s roster.
“That’s a good start,” Quinn said of those five players. “We’re making strides.”
Guentzel never represented the US of A in any of the numerous junior tournaments or competitions - which speaks to his status as a youngster as the small, skinny, overlooked mid-round draft pick that wasn’t on the radar at the national level. By the time Guentzel’s star exploded and he was one of the very best hockey players in the world, either NHL players didn’t participate in Olympics (2018 and 2022) or Guentzel’s status with the Penguins and NHL playoffs prevented him from competing at the Worlds.
Along those similar lines, you have to dig very deep but Casey DeSmith played one game in the 2010-11 World Junior A challenge for the Americans. That was a long time ago and a very minor footnote, making a World Championship roster is a really cool thing for a player that has come a mighty long way as well.
It’s also nice to see Nick Bonino in the mix. Bonino said he would have been cleared to play in the last regular season game if Pittsburgh’s season was still alive. Now he gets a platform to head into free agency with a fully healed kidney and his third crack at the World Championships, having also represented America in 2015 and 2018 (and having two bronze medals in his collection).
These are the first Penguins we are hearing that will use their long summer by playing some puck elsewhere. Notably not mentioned with Guentzel by Quinn were Americans Jason Zucker, Jeff Petry and Bryan Rust, who presumably aren’t going to play (or haven’t decided to yet). There hasn’t been much news about other countries, however neither Sidney Crosby nor Kris Letang were expected to join Team Canada overseas for this tournament. Jan Rutta’s recent surgery will prevent him playing for the Czechs. Evgeni Malkin doesn’t have an option, as Team Russia is not going to be participating. Team Sweden possibilities could include Rickard Rakell and Marcus Pettersson.
The World Championships start on May 12 and are in Finland this year.