As some of you may know, the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics are less than a year away and all eyes will soon be on Russia within the next few months.
It’s hard to believe that it’s already been three years since the 2010 Vancouver Olympics which saw many athletes become household names. Team USA lead the overall team medal count with 37 medals, 9 of which were Gold. However, Team Canada led the way with 14 Gold medals, but only 26 overall medals.
The most important competition leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics had to be Men’s Ice Hockey.
There was tremendous pressure for the Canadian team to come away with the Gold, but the USA team looked poised to steal it off their necks. However, no one will ever forget the heroics by Sidney Crosby in the Gold medal match which saw him score the game winning goal in overtime.
It will be 4 years since that crushing defeat for Team USA, and this up and coming team will look to once again foil another hockey power house in their own soil, Russia.
As I researched and looked around the NHL for players that will most likely be on this team, I found myself saying similar names to last Olympics team.
Looking at the USA forwards, household names jump off the page instantly. Lets first look at possible Centers Team USA will like to have on their roster come 2014.
Right away you have to look at Joe Pavelski making the team. A consistent 20 goal scorer, Pavelski reached 31 goals in 2011-2012 with the San Jose Sharks, also adding 30 assists and a +18 rating. Look for Pavelski to be a first or second line center for Team USA.
A big question mark will be the health of Ryan Kesler, a pure goal scorer who has had some injury issues over the past few seasons. After bursting out with 41 goals in the 2010-2011 season, his numbers dwindled to 22 goals in 2011-2012. If Kesler can get healthy, that’s huge positive for Team USA, adding size and one of the best defensive forwards in the game.
I believe the perfect 3rd line Center for Team USA has to be David Backes. At 6’3″ 225, Backes adds huge size to the Center position. Backes was a part of the team in 2010, and will look to be as one of the team leaders for the upcoming Olympics.
Lastly, the 4th line Center I would have to give to Paul Stastny. Stastny as also a part of the 2010 Olympic team which saw him score 1 goal and tally 2 assists in 6 games.
Centers on the bubble: David Legwand and Derek Stepan.
Have to believe that the obvious choice is Zach Parise. After putting on a show in the 2010 Olympics, Parise looks like to me the early favorite to wear that coveted “C” on the Team USA jersey.
A player that has just continues to improve year after year, Max Pacioretty should make the team as a top 6 forward.
He is the he captain of the Buffalo Sabres and was born in Quebec Canada but has dual citizenship with the United States. With the Right Wing positions heavily stacked (see below), I believe Jason Pominville could be a huge asset to Team USA by switching out to the left wing and adding some extra depth to the left wing charts.
T.J. Oshie will nab the 4th Left Wing position. A high energy player will really help Team USA in tight games down the stretch.
On the bubble: Ryan Malone, David Booth, James Van Riemsdyk
Obvious choice has to be Patrick Kane. The highly skilled forward will in my opinion be the catalyst to how far Team USA can go in the tournament.
Phil Kessel. Best pure scorer Team USA has in my opinion.
Bobby Ryan as your 3rd line Right Winger? Loaded. Hard to believe he was only 22 when he made his Olympic debut.
Dustin Brown. Another possible captain for Team USA will fit nicely in the 4th spot Right Wing position.
On the bubble: Blake Wheeler, Ryan Callahan
#1. Ryan Suter- clear #1. One of the best two way defenseman in the league.
#2. Kevin Shattenkirk- one of the up and coming superstars in the league.
#3. Keith Yandle- another quality scorer from the defensive position.
#4. Dustin Byfuglien- One of the hardest shots in the game today. Also one of the best two way defenseman in the league
#5. Jack Johnson- plenty of Olympic experience and moves the puck very well.
#6. Matthew Carle- good puck moving defenseman
#7. Brooks Orpik- one of the hardest working defenseman who is currently 2nd in the NHL for blocked shots.
On the bubble: Ryan McDonagh, Alex Goligoski, Erik Johnson
#1. Jonathan Quick- Was on the team in 2010 but didn’t see any action, it’s his turn to carry the load this time, especially after winning the Stanley Cup last year with the Los Angeles Kings.
#2. Ryan Miller- The hero of the 2010 Olympics has struggled a bit as the Buffalo Sabres number one goal tender, but I’d still consider him a top goaltender in the league.
#3. Jimmy Howard- Very consistent goaltender, hard to believe a guy like this is the #3 goalie for anyone. Would be a #1 on mostly any other team.
On the bubble: Craig Anderson, Cory Schnieder, Tim Thomas?
The Lines would look as followed:
Ryan Suter- Kevin Shattenkirk
Keith Yandle- Dustin Byfuglien
Jack Johnson- Matt Carle (or Brooks Orpik)
I believe the team that Team USA will hope to have is good enough to medal and compete for a Gold. Team Canada, Team Russia, and Team Sweden are always teams that are among the best in the world, so it will be interesting to see if any injuries or complications will hinder any of these teams from being at full strength.
I know I’m excited for Sochi 2014, and I hope everyone else is as well. It’s truly one of the most inspirational and exciting times the world has to offer.
Thank you for reading and please comment if you have any questions or opinions you would like to share with us.
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