With the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, only five weeks away, the Americans were first to announce their final roster. Yesterday, immediately following the Winter Classic between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, USA Hockey named its final roster, leaving off some surprising names.
The roster is as follows:
Goaltenders: Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, and Jimmy Howard.
Defence: Cam Fowler, John Carlson, Ryan McDonagh, Justin Faulk, Brooks Orpik, Paul Martin, Ryan Suter, Kevin Shattenkirk.
Forwards: Dustin Brown, David Backes, Ryan Callahan, Max Pacioretty, Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Paul Stastny, T. J. Oshie, Derek Stepan, Blake Wheeler.
Noteworthy omissions in goal: Cory Schneider, Ben Bishop, Craig Anderson
Noteworthy omissions on defence: Dustin Byfuglien, Keith Yandle, Torey Krug, Erik Johnson, Seth Jones, and Jack Johnson.
Noteworthy omissions at forward: Bobby Ryan, Kyle Okposo, Brandon Saad, Jason Pominville, and Brandon Dubinsky.
USA Hockey has certainly come a long way over the years. The country has never had more depth, evident in the amount of impressive names left off the roster. That being said, the management team that constructed Team USA 2014 believe they have found the right mix of players; built a team that can win a gold medal. General manager David Poile told media:
“We did not pick the 25 best players. We picked the 25 players we thought gave us a chance to win the gold medal.”
The American lines will shape up something like this (estimate):
Line 1: Zach Parise – Ryan Kesler – Patrick Kane
Line 2: Dustin Brown – David Backes – Ryan Callahan
Line 3: James van Riemsdyk – Paul Stastny/Joe Pavelski – Phil Kessel
Line 4: Pax Pacioretty – Derek Stepan – Blake Wheeler
Extra forwards: T. J. Oshie
Defence 1: Ryan Suter – Kevin Shattenkirk
Defence 2: Ryan McDonagh – John Carlson
Defence 3: Cam Fowler – Justin Faulk
Defence 4: Brooks Orpik – Paul Martin
Starting Goaltender: Jonathan Quick/Ryan Miller
Extra Goaltender: Jimmy Howard
As you can see, USA will be a tough opponent for any and all who are unlucky to compete against them. Where they may lack in quality high-end scorers up front, they make up for it with arguably the best goaltending in the competition, a very active and mobile defence corps, and forward grit that will give opponents fits all game long.
The rest of the big four (Canada, Russia, and Sweden) will name their final rosters by or before the January 7th deadline next week.