July 21, 2013 by Cups n Pucks
After a few months of communication, the NHL and NHLPA have come to an agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to allow NHL players to participate in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. NHL players have been participating in the Olympics since the 1998. The tournament will be February 12-23, 2014.
Now that NHL players are allowed to participate in the Olympics, I can start speculating about the rosters. Here are my predictions:
Parise – Pavelski -Kane
Pacioretty – Stastny – Ryan
Callahan – Kesler – Kessel
Oshie – Backes – Brown
Suter – Yandle
J. Johnson – E. Johnson
In my opinion, this USA team is much improved from that in 2010’s team. Players like Kane, Kessel, and Callahan have four additional years of experience and have become leaders both on and off the ice for their teams. While players like Saad, Fowler, and Carlson are promising players on the rise, I don’t think they will be ready to make the jump this Olympics. Also, despite Miller’s impressive run in the 2010 Olympics that lead him to being the tournament’s MVP, his play over recent years has declined and players like Schneider and Howard have overtaken him.
Tavares – Crosby – Stamkos
Benn – Toews – Perry
Hall – Giroux – Getzlaf
Nash – Bergeron – E. Staal
Duchene/Ladd (very hard to decide between the two)
Keith – Doughty
Letang – Subban
Pietrangelo – Weber
What a team! That first line is scary to think about. Averaging two goals a game would be a pessimistic thought. Then you have the rest of the team. I’m leaving out forwards like Richards, Sharp, Marchand, St. Louis, Seguin, and Couture. Even Neal, who is a few years removed from a 40 goal season, isn’t on my roster. Team Canada shouldn’t have any problems scoring goals. Also losing older players like Iginla, Thorton, and Heatley will make the team much faster.
The defense is nothing short of amazing either. Keith and Doughty were superb together in the 2010 Olympics. Letang, Subban, and Weber are all Norris nominees from the past two years and don’t be surprised if you see Pietrangelo’s name in that discussion in the next few years.
The goalies this year don’t hold the same name recognition as a Brodeur from a few years ago, but Price and Crawford both are anchoring their teams very well and deserve the nomination. However, there is no doubt that this is Luongo’s team until he falters. The question is: Will Luongo choke? Goaltending is definitely Canada’s weakest point.
For Hawks fans, other than Kane, Toews, and Keith on USA and Canada, other players you can look to make the Olympics are Hossa for Slovakia, Hjalmersson for Sweden, and Raanta on Finland. Kruger (Sweden), Oduya (Sweden) , Leddy (USA), Handzus (Slovakia), Sharp (Canada), and Seabrook (Canada) all have outside shots to make their respective teams.