While nothing has been finalized yet, I would bet the IIHF and NHL will agree to send players to the 2014 Olympics being held in Sochi, Russia. Last week I provided my list for the Canadian hockey entry for the games, now it is time to look at who may represent the Red, White and Blue.
1. Patrick Kane- Kane has elevated his game this season on the powerhouse Hawks. His past off season troubles seem to be behind him and he will be looked upon to produce some big numbers at the Olympics.
2. Zach Parise- He has picked up in Minnesota where he left off in NJ. Parise continues to be an offensive star in his new city and he will be a key piece of Team USA.
3. Ryan Kesler- Fresh from surgery which delayed the start to his season, Kesler has looked solid in his first couple of games. His combination of grit and goals is a key to USA's success.
4. Joe Pavelski- "Little Joe" is putting up big numbers again this year for the Sharks.
5. Jason Pominville- He has been overlooked at times playing in the shadow of NHL leading scorer Thomas Vanek, but Pominville continues to be one of the leagues most underrated players.
6. David Backes- The Blues captain will be playing in his second Olympics and will be a valuable asset.
7. Dustin Brown- Though struggling so far this season, there is much to be said about captaining a Stanley Cup Champion.
8. Bobby Ryan- The Ducks winger is a sniper and you can never have too many of those in tournament play.
9. Max Pacioretty- He has been the best player for Montreal the past 2 seasons, and his desire and work ethic will never be in question.
10. Ryan Callahan- Another captain with the ability to score big goals.
11. Phil Kessel- The Leafs sniper can be streaky, but if he gets hot in the Olympics, he could be amongst the tournament's scoring leaders.
12. James van Riemsdyk- He is beginning to realize his potential and that is not good news for opposing goaltenders.
13. Paul Stastny- The Av's slick playmaker could be on the bubble, time will tell.
Blake Wheeler has continued his late season hot streak into this year, and is slowly evolving into the player Wayne Gretzky drafted so high in 2004.
If there is need for a youth movement, Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens could be the man. He has played very well at both ends of the ice for the Habs and is mature beyond his age.
Drew Stafford and TJ Oshie could be dark horses to make the team as well.
1. Ryan Suter- He too has played well upon his arrival in Minnesota, and he will likely be on the top pairing for USA.
2. Jack Johnson- He may be under the radar playing for the Jackets this year, but Johnson is a big game player.
3. Keith Yandle- The Coyotes power play quarterback could find the same role in the Olympics.
4. Kevin Shattenkirk- He has been outstanding for the Blues this year.
5. Ryan McDonagh- His playoff run last year was a coming out party. He can do just about everything for the team.
6. Zach Bogosian- Another player freshly back from injury, he will definitely be in the mix for USA's blueline.
7. Dustin Byfuglien- Olympic ice may be a challenge for him, but his big shot and ability to play wing could get him onto the team.
Justin Faulk, Nick Leddy, Jake Gardiner are youngsters who could get a look, but I would think a veteran shut down defencemen like Rob Scuderi or Brooks Orpik may be more likely to crack the top 6.
1. Ryan Miller- He was the man for USA in 2010 and could be again in Sochi.
2. Jonathan Quick- The Conn Smythe winner performed on the NHL's biggest stage and was outstanding, now he needs to bring it to the international level.
3. Craig Anderson- He has been the NHL's best goalie so far this season. He will get every chance to be a part of the top 3.
This could be USA's deepest position and that is not good news for the likes of Jimmy Howard and Cory Schneider.
And although his current political beliefs may lead him to boycott Team USA, Tim Thomas may be back in the NHL next year.
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