The U.S. Olympics Hockey: Early Team Predictions
After weeks of negotiating, the National Hockey League and the International Ice Hockey Foundation reached an agreement on Friday that makes the NHL players eligible to participate in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.
This is the fifth straight time that the NHL has made an agreement to send their top players to the Olympics.
The league will promptly take a two and a half week break from February 9th to 26th, during which the 12 national teams will play a tournament.
With all the early buzz of the 2014 Olympics, NHL and hockey fans are dying to see if their favorite players will be invited to participate.
And with the United States Men’s Hockey team creating so much hype during the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, USA fans want to see their countrymen get the gold medal this time around.
So with all the news concerning the team, I decided to predict what the roster may look like when USA takes the worldwide stage in Sochi.
Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane
James van Reimsdyk-Paul Statsny-Phil Kessel
T.J. Oshie-David Backes-Dustin Brown
Bobby Ryan-Joe Pavelski-Ryan Callahan
I believe ten of the forwards from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics will return to be part of the team in 2014. That leaves three new forwards to join the ranks. Those three would be Oshie, van Reimsdyk and Okposo.
Coming off a career high season, Oshie will be a great player for Team USA and could create some spark playing with teammate David Backes.
James van Reimsdyk was part of a trade last offseason that sent him to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Reimsdyk was fantastic for the Leafs, scoring 18 goals and dishing out 14 assists. He might be just the thing Team USA needs to get to the Gold Medal game.
And finally Kyle Okposo has been a steady player for the New York Islanders who can score goals, dish out assists and give out big hits. Look for Team USA to pick him for a different dynamic.
Jack Johnson-Ryan Suter
Brooks Orpik-Keith Yandle
Kevin Shattenkirk-Dustin Byfuglien
Jack Johnson, Ryan Suter, Brooks Orpik and Erik Johnson will all be back after great performances in 2010.
The new additions in my opinion will be Keith Yandle, Kevin Shattenkirk and Dustin Byfuglien.
Yandle and Shattenkirk have both been very productive at the NHL level. Both players will be able to provide offensive skill to the defensive core and be able bodies on the powerplay.
Byfuglien, who currently plays for the Winnepeg Jets, is a legitimate force in the NHL. He is a big stay-at-home defenseman and doesn’t let anything near the goaltender (pucks or skaters).
When you think of the USA Men’s Hockey team from 2010, who doesn’t have Ryan Miller come to mind? Miller was the reason that USA took home the silver at Vancouver and would love the opportunity to be the starter in 2014.
Jonathan Quick and Jimmy Howard, however, are looking to steal the starting position from Miller.
Quick was one of the best goaltenders in the league the past two seasons. Leading his team to a Stanley Cup victory and winning the Conn Smythe in 2012 just shows his ability to be the go-to-guy on the world’s biggest stage.
Howard has been fantastic for the Detroit Red Wings in his three seasons as starting goaltender and deserves the 3rd spot on the USA team.
But don’t think that Cory Schneider of the New Jersey Devils and Craig Anderson of the Ottawa Senators will try to steal two of the three spots.
Look for all five goaltenders to be viable candidates in the race to make the team.
But no matter what the team is, we are hoping for a great performance in the Sochi Olympics from the USA hockey team. Maybe this time they can bring home the gold instead!