Penguins' Phil Kessel not among 7 added to USA World Cup roster

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Saturday, May 28, 2016

Two-time Olympic forward Phil Kessel failed to make the final cut for the United States' World Cup of Hockey roster Friday, a day after helping the Pittsburgh Penguins reach the Stanley Cup finals.

In passing over the 10-year NHL veteran, Team USA officials filled the final four forward spots withColumbus' Brandon Dubinsky,Toronto'sJames van Riemsdyk,Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan andSt. Louiscaptain David Backes. The remaining defense spots went toColorado'sErik Johnson, Columbus' Jack Johnson andWashington'sMatt Niskanen.

This is definitely a John Tortorella-coached team. Six players on the 23-man roster have played for Tortorella in the NHL: Dubinsky, Callahan, Jack Johnson, forwards Ryan Kesler and Derek Stepan, and defenseman Ryan McDonagh.

The seven additions announced Friday filled out Team USA's roster. The squad will be competing in the eight-team tournament in Toronto in September.

Kessel was left off despite a postseason in which he's leading the Penguins with nine goals and 18 points. At the 2014 Sochi Games, the U.S. finished fourth with Kessel scoring a team-leading five goals and eight points.

Other notables missing the cut were forwards Bobby Ryan ofOttawa, Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders and Paul Stastny of St. Louis, and defensemen Kevin Shattenkirk of the Blues, Cam Fowler ofAnaheimand Justin Faulk ofCarolina.

"When it came right down to it, it was very difficult to settle on a final roster," U.S. general manager Dean Lombardi said. "That's a testament to how far we've come in hockey in our country."

The U.S. seemed to be more hamstrung than Canada by the 23-and-under Team North America, with forward Brandon Saad and defenseman Seth Jones of the Blue Jackets and forward Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres considered strong candidates for the big squad if eligible.

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