Sochi 2014: USA Hockey projected roster

parise USA

In about three to four weeks the US olympic hockey roster will be finalized. Shortly after the Winter Classic on January 1st in Ann Arbor, Michigan the roster will be revealed. With little time left these next few weeks are crucial in putting together a team with the best chance of winning gold.

US general manager David Polie has many decisions still left. He says he has narrowed his defensive pool to 12 guys, which is four more than the limit allowed. On the goaltending side Polie says that six goalies are still in the hunt to make one of the three goalie spots.

A couple of injuries have affected this decision making process. Those included are Jonathan Quick and Paul Martin, both projected to make the team but both on tight schedules and both injured.

So with a month left here is my projected roster that will be announced New Years day in Ann Arbor

 

Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane

James Van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil Kessel

Max Pacioretty-David Backes-Bobby Ryan

Dustin Brown-Paul Stastny-Ryan Callahan

Extras: TJ Oshie and Brandon Saad

Outside looking in: Derek Stepan, Jason Pominville, Kyle Okposo

Obviously these lines are subjected to be changed but upfront the USA is once again very deep. With the ability to score and play well on the penalty kill the USA has what it takes to make a strong run at a medal and even gold.

The US has some interesting options to fill out the extra forward spots. A group of Oshie, Pominville, Okposo, and Saad all could be in the mix there. Those extra forward spots have some value in that whoever Team USA picks is likely going to bring a different element to the lineup.

The US also has a lot of experience on its side up front. With at least 10 returnees from the 2010 team looking to make the final roster, the US knows what it will be getting out of a lot of those guys.

There will be a combination of speed and size that will definitely help on any size ice surface. You can’t simply throw an all-skill lineup out there even though they’re playing on Olympic ice. There needs to be some balance with some defensive prowess and a little dose of grit never hurts. It looks like this US outfit should have that balance.

Here are a look at my projected defensive pairings and goaltender rotation.

Ryan Suter-Kevin Shattenkirk

Ryan McDonagh-John Carlson

Brooks Orpik-Erik Johnson

Extras: Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien

Outside looking in: Danny DeKeyser, Paul Martin, Jack Johnson, Seth Jones

Brooks Orpik replaces Paul Martin as I believe he will not recover in time from his injury. Although this isn’t a guarantee for Orpik, Danny DeKeyser has had a stellar rookie year and is a solid puck moving defenseman with speed. Seth Jones and Jack Johnson also are solid contenders for the last two spots as they both have proved themselves worthy of a shot.

Ryan Suter is the anchor of a shaky back unit, although it is no superstar cast they all will provide solid minutes needed to help Team USA win.

Suter and Ryan McDonagh both provide strong defensive skills that will give them two shutdown players against top tier opponents. Martin would be a huge asset as well and we’ll see if he can recover in time.

The US also has strong skating players that can move the puck very well. Kevin Shattenkirk is a great two-way dman who should play strong minutes, John Carlson as well.

As for the extra defenders we will see if the USA goes more offensive minded. If they had to choose one my pick would be Byfuglien as he is a more versatile option. Watch out for 2010 member Johnson, Jones, and DeKeyser as these three all could be on the team as I have them as my sleeper picks.

Goaltending is the biggest question mark this year or the USA. With Quick, Jimmy Howard, and Ryan Miller all struggling it is going to be a tough decision on who should be the starter. It also opens up the door for veteran Tim Thomas and young Cory Schneider.

Jonathon Quick

Jimmy Howard

Ryan Miller

Quick earns the the number one spot. Quick has proven himself as an elite goalie as he showed us in the 2012 Stanley Cup finals. He showed us that he can step up in the big moments. Jimmy Howard has proven himself as and elite goalie as well, while he has struggled this year, he also is coming off a great year. Ryan Miller will be the third guy if the other two fail, the 2010 starting goalie has declined ever since these Olympics and has struggled. Although most of it isn’t his fault due to how bad his team is.

Photo Credit: http://www.cbssports.com/nhl/eye-on-hockey/24300705/olympics-projecting-team-usas-final-roster-for-sochi

Follow me on Twitter: @cflaska94

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