After a disappointing end to his first season in a Red Wings uniform, goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic has something new to play for: his country.
Nedeljkovic is headlining a long list of Michigan-bound players announced to the United States Men’s National Team ahead of the 2022 IIHF World Men’s Championships in Finland (May 13-29).
University of Michigan defenseman Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils), along with former UM stars Thomas Bordeleau (San Jose Sharks), Nick Blankenburg (Columbus Blue Jackets) and goaltender Strauss Mann (San Jose Sharks ), who recently signed with the Sharks organization after a season in the Swedish Hockey League’s Skellefteå AIK, also made the team. The final roster was announced on Thursday.
Michigan leads NCAA representation with those four players. Mann also represented the United States at the 2022 Olympics.
Austin Watson, a native of Ann Arbor and Ottawa Senators forward, was also on the team.
Nedeljkovic, who had his end-of-season media availability with the Red Wings on Wednesday, had already been told he would be on the team.
“Honestly, it was a pretty easy decision,” Nedeljkovic said. “Anytime you can represent your country, it’s a great honour. It’s a special opportunity. You can’t always do it. It’s a great honor, and I think everyone should take advantage of it if they have it. the occasion.”
The team is led by Ryan Martin, who in August 2021 left his position as assistant general manager of the Red Wings for a position as assistant general manager of the New York Rangers under Chris Drury.
“We have an excellent group of players who we know will represent our country extremely well at the World Championship,” Martin said in a team statement. “As with all teams USA Hockey puts on the ice at all levels, our goal is to bring home the gold medal and we look forward to the challenge ahead of us.”
Thirteen players who made the roster went through the National Team Development Program, which resides at the US Hockey Arena in Plymouth.
Hughes led the nation in scoring by a defenseman in his first season, with 17 goals and 19 assists (36 points), and was named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team after being drafted fourth overall by the Devils in 2021.
Bordeleau signed his entry-level contract with the Sharks shortly after Michigan’s elimination from the Frozen Four, and he had five assists in eight games, plus a shootout winner against the Vegas Golden Knights on April 24.
Blankenburg signed an entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets last spring after going undrafted and captaining Michigan in his final year with the program. He had one goal and two assists in seven games to close the season with Columbus.
Mann was among five finalists for the Mike Richter Award (Top Goalie in the Nation) in his final season at Michigan in 2020-21. In two Olympic Games appearances, he had a .945 save percentage and a 1.85 goals-against average.
The United States team will depart for Finland on May 7. She will play a single exhibition game against Canada on May 11 before making her tournament debut against Latvia on May 13.
IIHF Team USA World Championship Schedule
All local times.
Wednesday May 11: Canada (exhibition), 8 a.m.
Friday May 13: Latvia, 9:20 a.m.
Sunday May 15: Austria, 9:20 a.m.
Monday, May 16: Finland, 1:20 p.m.
Thursday, May 19: Great Britain, 9:20 a.m.
Saturday May 21: Sweden, 5:20 a.m.
Monday, May 23: Czechia, 9:20 a.m.
tuesday 24 may: Norway, 9:20 a.m.
Thursday, May 26: Quarterfinal
Saturday May 28: Semi final
Sunday May 29: Games for gold and bronze medals
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.