Team USA yesterday revealed their invitation only training camp roster to begin preparations for the 2014 winter games in Sochi.
The two day camp will take place on August 26 and 27 at Kettler Capitals IcePlex in Arlington, Virginia.
Nine players on the list represented our great nation at the 2013 World Championships in Sweden and Finland as the red, white and blue came away with a bronze medal. A total of 16 have prior Olympic experience. The camp is primarily for head coach Dan Blysma of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins the opportunity to decide who the best 25 are to go for gold in February 2014.
What you will notice about the roster below is the tremendous youth that is going to be represented. This is not the most experienced or grizzled bunch of veterans from the National Hockey League, minor leagues and junior ranks. The reason for that could be two fold. For one, David Poile and his staff feel that the youthful energy and exuberance will be on display and make the Americans a down right pain in the tuckus to play against. The other could be to push the veterans at camp who might come in thinking they have a spot all locked up.
Whatever the reason, the Americans promise to have a tough squad, and that is exactly what they are going to need, going up against reigning gold medal winners Canada as well as perennial powerhouses Sweden and Russia. I absolutely love international competition on any level and still remember jumping for joy in my living room when John Carlson scored in overtime at the 2010 world juniors to eliminate Canada.
Without further adieu, the players invited to camp are listed below and my picks to make the team and head to Sochi are in italics and underlined. This goes under the premise that 14 forwards, 8 defenseman and 3 goaltenders will make the squad. Feel free to leave your comments beneath the article.
- Justin Abdelkader : Spunky forward from Detroit could play a key 3rd/4th line role.
- David Backes : St.Louis captain a sure bet with physical play and scoring ability.
- Beau Bennett : Nice to get an invite but its back to practicing with Sidney.
- Nick Bjugstad : With only 11 games NHL experience at age 21, can’t see him beating anyone out.
- Dustin Brown : As sure a bet as Backes, you can split those two similar styles across two lines.
- Ryan Callahan : My favorite Ranger (if I am allowed to have one) could captain this team.
- Alex Galchenyuk : At 19 with talent oozing out of every pore, my dark horse youngster wins a spot.
- Patrick Kane : 2 Stanley Cups last 4 years? Personal life in order? Sign me up, thank you very much.
- Ryan Kesler : Coming off 2 injury riddled seasons but such a key component in the defensive zone.
- Phil Kessel : His speed and scoring touch will be relied upon heavily in this tournament.
- Trevor Lewis : 12 goals in 203 NHL games gets you an invite (I guess), not a spot.
- Kyle Okposo : Absolute beast mode second half of 2013 leading into playoffs. Critical for corner board battles.
- T.J. Oshie : I like T.J but a little inconsistent and just too much talent at camp.
- Max Pacioretty : Outstanding comeback from horrific Chara incident. Shoe in for 2018 team.
- Kyle Palmieri : Solid season for Anaheim as a 22 year old. Another lock in 2018.
- Zach Parise : Zach is as American as they come. Absolutely no way he is left off this team.
- Joe Pavelski : Pavs could be the first injury replacement.
- Bobby Ryan : 4 straight 30 goals seasons prior to 2013, you can hand him his jersey when he walks in the door.
- Brandon Saad : Winning a Stanley Cup as a rookie? This is the kid you want on this club. 100% effort all the time.
- Craig Smith : Craig who?
- Paul Stastny : I remember cursing Stastny at the 2010 games. I don’t want to do that again.
- Derek Stepan : Found his game big time last year in the big apple. Great second line US center.
- James van Riemsdyk : The Flyers will rue the day they traded this New Jersey native for a LONG time.
- Blake Wheeler : See TJ Oshie.
- Zach Bogosian - At 23, Bogosian is a physical puck mover in transition, needed in this type of tournament.
- Dustin Byfuglien - No way big Buff is left off this squad. Too much size, muscle and ability.
- John Carlson - The aforementioned hero in 2010 has been on the big stage. Just getting his moxy up.
- Dan DeKeyser – Ummm……..no, not with this group of invitees.
- Justin Faulk - Same for Faulk. Will easily make 2018 squad but just not ready to overtake this lineup.
- Cam Fowler - Fowler is too much of a defensive liability still to be considered here.
- Jake Gardiner - Come back and check with us in 4 years son.
- Erik Johnson - One of the most overrated defensemen in the National Hockey League.
- Jack Johnson - Offensive ability but not enough overall game to beat out my other choices. Could be injury replacement.
- Seth Jones – Will be a captain and dominant defensemen. This is just seasoning for the youngster.
- Nick Leddy - Too inconsistent in the Hawks cup run this year to be given serious consideration.
- Paul Martin - Tough to leave a warrior like Martin off. Just don’t see an opening unless an injury pops up.
- Ryan McDonagh - Easy selection. Best defenseman on the Rangers in my view.
- Brooks Orpik - Here primarily for his physical presence.
- Kevin Shattenkirk - Just too much going on at both ends of the rink to leave him off.
- Ryan Suter - Leader of this entire group, can call out of camp sick and still make it.
- Jacob Trouba – See Jones, Seth minus the captain part.
- Keith Yandle - Always liked Yandle. Could be a tremendous power play weapon.
- Craig Anderson - Spectacular before getting injured but fear will not repeat that performance this season.
- John Gibson - Here for the experience, will be in Ducks cage within 3 years.
- Jimmy Howard - Does not get the coveted starter spot but has to be on this team.
- Ryan Miller - I think I have bashed Miller enough, no?
- Jonathan Quick - Easy choice for starter but the question is…can he handle the pressure? I say yes.
- Cory Schneider - Out of goaltender purgatory, now with New Jersey and job security for years to come.