Dec 6, 2006, 11:04 AM EST
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CP) - There will be no shortage of top defensive talent on this year's U.S. junior men's hockey team.
Erik Johnson, the No. 1 pick in the 2006 NHL draft, and Jack Johnson, the No. 2 pick in 2005, were among those named to the team on Wednesday. The U.S. blue-line also includes Brian Lee, who will play in a third straight world junior championship, North Dakota's Taylor Chorney and Sean Zimmerman of the Western Hockey League's Spokane Chiefs.
The U.S. heads to the 2007 world juniors in Sweden with eight returning players from the team that finished fourth in 2006.
Everett Silvertips forward Peter Mueller, University of Wisconsin's Jack Skille and Boston College's Nate Gerbe are the returning forwards.
Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel is eligible to play for the U.S. team, but the NHL team did not want to release him.
Mueller, a first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes, is among the leading scorers in the WHL. Other Canadian Hockey League players on the U.S. team are Patrick Kane of the London Knights and Trevor Lewis of the Owen Sound Attack.
Kane is currently tied for the lead in Ontario Hockey League scoring.