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World Cup of Hockey 2016: Get to know Team North America’s Defenders

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It’s not deep, but there’s some good top end talent.

Florida Panthers v New York Islanders - Game Six Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The less-heralded portion of team North America, the defense group is a little less polished and a bit less explosive than their goal-scoring counterparts. I dig the top four of this team (some combination of Ekblad, Gostisbehere, Jones and Rielly) but North America lacks depth here.

Still, you can do a lot worse than an Ekblad-Gostisbehere top pairing. I think this area is where North America will struggle against more experienced, and frankly more skilled, forwards from other countries. Still, as with the rest of the team there are fun players to see here.

Team North America Defenders

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers

Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers

Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets

Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets

Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs

Jacob Trouba, Winnipeg Jets

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Aaron Ekblad

He’s way younger than you think he is. No, really. Think in your head how old you think he is and then go look it up, it’ll blow your mind. Ekblad is extremely skilled and a surprisingly solid defender given his age.

Shayne Gostisbehere

The Flyers have something in “Ghost Bear.” He scores a ton and plays pretty good defense to boot. He’s also got one of the best names in hockey, which can’t possibly hurt his popularity any.

Seth Jones

Freed from the Nashville Predators only to be stuck with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Jones is the next great hope for America’s blue line. He has all the potential in the world — whether he’ll unlock it playing for a mediocre Columbus team remains to be seen.

Group: B (Team Finland, Team North America, Team Russia, Team Sweden)

First Game: Team North America vs. Team Finland, 5 p.m. PT, ESPN2