Revisiting my US Olympic Hockey roster projections

Earlier in the summer I took the time to project who I felt would be donning the red, white and blue for the United States in the 2014 Olympic Games. With a quarter of the NHL season in the books there is a potential for a number of players to have cemented their spots or even opened the eyes of the USA Hockey executive team.

Considering the US doesn’t have the mountain of talent that is touted by the Canadians to pull from, there are more than a few assumed locks for the team. Patrick Kane and Phil Kessel are both enjoying strong starts to the season and will certainly be counted upon to continue their elite scoring ways in Sochi. The story remains the same for many of the forwards I assumed would be making the squad.

What it will likely come down to is who has the strongest resume as the games near. While the orientation camp and preseason rosters were based on career resumes and the assumed growth of players, others have shot out of the gates and bear watching as the season progresses. Due to that, there is likely to be some shuffling amongst the names who already were considered favorites.

Max Pacioretty has only played 15 games and has accounted for nine points (7+2) in that span. His absence from the lineup and the slower start could bump him off the roster as could be the case for James Van Riemsdyk. He has 16 points (9+7) in 22 games and has a natural chemistry with Kessel, but he could also be supplanted by a new face should the executive staff go with who is playing best.

JVR is probably more of a longshot to be left off the roster than to make it at this point and Ryan Callahan’s injury issues to start the year and Dustin Brown’s unimpressive offensive output won’t win them many favorites. However, Brown and Callahan both serve incredibly well in a checking and leadership role, which will likely cement their spot on the roster.

My original roster only accounted for 13 forwards and seven defensemen as I didn’t account for the two extra roster spots made available for this year’s games. Given that my original roster now has two gift openings, there isn’t nearly as much trouble trying to narrow down who should and shouldn’t be packing up for Russia.

The players who have motivated me to revisit my picks include; Jason Pominville (13 goals already), TJ Oshie (21 points) along with a few others who I originally considered little more than darkhorse candidates (Alex Galchenyuk, Brandon Dubinsky and Cam Fowler).

I truly believe that most of the American roster was decided early on as players like David Backes, Kane, Kessel, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were all but decided the minute the orientation camp roster came out. Others would certainly be favorites but would need a solid first half of the year to cement their spot, this is where I see some opportunity for turnover. Here’s my new roster with new names highlighted in blue: Continue reading

Projecting the 2014 US Olympic Hockey roster: The Goalies

Part one: Forwards

Part two: Defensemen

Part three: Goalies

The final position left to prognosticate for the 2014 US Olympic roster is in between the pipes. I previously noted the impressive talent the Americans will have along the blueline, but in net is truly the strength of the team.

Tim Thomas probably won’t be part of the conversation this time around after a year away from the game in his bunker in Colorado – or however he actually spent the year. Ryan Miller will certainly be considered for a roster spot while Jonathan Quick will probably graduate from third to first string for the 2014 games.

Quick is the guy I’ve tabbed to be my started with Cory Schneider and Jimmy Howard to follow in behind as his backups. Continue reading

Projecting the 2014 US Olympic hockey roster

Part one: Forwards

Part two: Defensemen

Part three: Goalies

In nine months we’ll be four years removed from the impressive run that Team USA took to the sliver medal in Vancouver. While the US entered the 2010 Olympics as an underdog expected to finish behind the Swedes, Finns, Russians and Canadians, they will not enjoy the same treatment entering Sochi. In fact, the US might boast one of the most impressive rosters in the tournament when they arrive in nine months.

I took the time to lay out the roster that I think the Americans will bring with them to Russia and what should be a gold medal contender. I’ll begin with the forwards and move to the defensemen and goaltenders over the next two days.

One thing that the 2010 roster had was an interesting mix of veteran and up-and-coming talent. Olympic and NHL vets like Chris Drury, Jamie Langenbrunner and Brian Rafalski offered loads of international experience to an unhearalded roster. While all three of those players have since moved on, a majority of the players who made their US Olympic debut in Vancouver are all four years older as they prepare for Sochi.

With Drury and Langenbrunner both out of the picture, I also didn’t include Ryan Malone on my roster. Otherwise, the forward ranks are full of holdovers from the 2010 roster.

LW

 

C

 

RW

Patrick Kane

 

Joe Pavelski

 

Dustin Brown

Zach Parise

 

James VanRiemsdyk

 

Phil Kessel

Max Pacioretty

 

Paul Stastny

 

Bobby Ryan

David Backes (A)

 

Ryan Kesler

 

Ryan Callahan (C)

   

Derek Stepan

   

Continue reading

The time has come to overhaul the World Hockey Championship

Russia, Slovakia a pre-tournament qualifier and the United States will make up one group at the 2014 Winter Olympics is Sochi.

The US has drawn a tough group that could be made tougher based on the teams that qualify for the final spots in each of the three pools. The other pools consist of Canada, Finland, Norway and a qualifier; and Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland and another qualifier.

An average showing at the World Championships put the US and Canada at the mercy of the selection committee after another showing without a medal for the two powerhouses. Russia captured another World Championship title with the Slovaks and Finland each enjoying a deep run. Many reports point to the Norwegians as the biggest winners from this year’s World Championship.

Now teams like Belarus, Latvia, Germany, France, Denmark, Kazakhstan and Italy will battle for one of the final three spots in the Olympic tournament. These participants will be affected by their play in international tournaments (both at the elite and Division I level) before those final spots are determined.

What is unfortunate is that so much weight regarding Olympic seeding is based on a tournament that few care about. While the World Championship is a big deal for European players and fans, tournament barely registers on an annual basis in North America. Perhaps if the tournament wasn’t played right after the regular season, or during the playoffs, or exclusively in Europe it would carry more weight with fans over here.

Ken Holland was quoted, on NHL Home Ice, saying that upwards of 80% of the players approached by Hockey Canada refused to play this tournament. I can only imagine that USA Hockey has the same hurdles to clear when forming their team. After all, there were players from the Finnish Elite League wearing the stars and stripes this year. This fact alone illustrates the little respect that this tournament receives in North America.

Now, the US beat Canada during the preliminary round, and that was awesome. Missing out on a medal wasn’t even a big deal since we were able to beat our neighbors to the north. However, there needs to be a few changes made to at least make the World Championship a respected event down the line. Continue reading