Russia is coming in as the number 1 ranked country in the world & the odds on favorite to win the Gold. Back to Back Gold medalists at the World Championships, they have regained the top ranking that they let slip away after the end of the Soviet Union. Only a few years ago they were ranked down as low as 7th, but have come roaring back & will be looking to cement their ranking here.
Of course, this roster will feature some of the most prominent talents in the NHL in Ovechkin, Malkin & Semin. But not to be outdone is the home grown Russian hockey league the KHL which will make up a notable chunk of this roster.
In goal, its Nabokovs job to lose. Ilya Bryzgalov may make a serious case for the spot, but they will go with Nabby first & if he stumbles, then maybe Bryzgalov gets a chance to shine. I expect Varlamov to be the 3rd goalie, if Khabibulin is not back (which I dont think he will be. The KHL goalies will likely be on the outside looking in for this Olympics.
Defensively, Sergei Gonchar will lead the pack offensively, with Markov giving support. They will look to Volchenkov & Vishnevsky to be the defensive defensemen here. It is probably the Russian weakness, but still a competent bunch.
Forwards are so oozing with offensive skill they should probably be forced to play with their hands cuffed together, just to make it a bit more fair. Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Malkin, Semin are names every North American knows as offensive dynamos. Butit might be Morozov, Zaripov, Shushinski & Radulov that visitors to Vancouver go away remembering as they will add their own offensive impact to the team. Offense will never be a problem for this bunch, so much so, that guys like Kovalev & Kozlov from the NHL & Yashin, Mozyakin & Filatov in the KHL will likely be overlooked, or werent even considered.
Evgeni Nabokov- SAN JOSE SHARKS (NHL) Barring injury or a horrid choke job, Nabby will be the starter thru the tourney.
Ilya Bryzgalov- PHOENIX COYOTES (NHL) Ilya will certainly have the teams confidence if starter Nabokov falters, but he will more than likely be here as a back up & maybe get 1 or 2 starts against the weaker opponents.
Semyon Varlamov- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) Just here for the experience. Only injury would ever see him even on the bench, playing is highly unlikely.
Sergei Gonchar- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NHL) The Russian PP #1 unit QB, Sergei will probably take regular shifts with a more defensively sound dman to balance out his offense driven game.
Andrei Markov- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Despite a serious injury, he is still being considered a lock for the team since he just came back from injury well ahead of schedule. If healthy, he is a lock to QB the 2nd PP unit & take 1st line ES minutes.
Fedor Tyutin- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (NHL) Expect to log lots of PK time, as well as regular shifts.
Anton Volchenkov- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) Expected to be a shut down dman who will get lots of PK minutes as well.
Denis Grebishkov- EDMONTON OILERS (NHL) Will fill out a top 6 unit well, may even get top 4 unit minutes.
Ilya Nikulin- KAZAN AK BARS (KHL) Despite a soft -4 plus minus rating, Nikulin has done well at both ends of the ice this season & will likely get 3rd line minutes here.
Vitali Vishnevsky- YAROSLAVL LOKOMOTIV (KHL)- Has been consistent at both ends of the ice all year. His +20 is by far the tops of all Russian contenders for a defenseman spot.
Alexander Ovechkin- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) I kno, I know. Shocker that I added Ovi. In other ground breaking news, its been reported the earth rotates around the sun.
Alexander Semin- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) Ovi needs his sidekick to go to Vancouver with. luckily for him Semin is also quite the skilled hockey player too, so he wont be there just to hang out with Ovi & party.
Ilya Kovalchuk- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) When Ovechkin isnt on the ice, expect Kovalchuk to be terrifying goaltenders with his impressive array of shots.
Pavel Datsyuk- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) A guy thats been far over a pt per game player for 4 straight seasons isnt usually seen as a checker, but Pavel will take that role here, all while making the checking line incredibly dangerous offensively as well.
Alexander Frolov- LOS ANGELES KINGS (NHL) Even with only 6 pts in the last 12 games, Alex has probably done enough early on to stick on the team as a 3rd liner.
Evgeni Malkin- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NHL) The man likely to centre Kovalchuk, Evgeni is a playoff MVP of the recent Stanley Cup champions & the Art Ross Trophy winner for league scoring champion. Yet he will probably be on the 2nd line here.
Maxim Sushinski- ST PETERSBURG SKA (KHL) People in N.A. may not take the KHL overly serious still, but Maxim Sushinski will be coming here to show you all it is serious. The leagues current scoring leader & leads the league in GWG. Dont be fooled he will be looked at to light up a 2nd line or be a quiet 3rd line scoring threat. Whichever the case, expect results from him.
Alexander Radulov- UFA SALAVAT YULAYEV (KHL) Former NHL malcontent, Alex has flourished since moving back home & is now considered a superstar there. He will come here to show that KHL players can do as good or better than NHL players & will be vying for some time on a top 2 line spot perhaps.
Alexei Morozov- KAZAN AK BARS (KHL) Leads the league in PP goals with 9. 2nd in GWGs this season. Was the playoff scoring champion last season, continually near the top of the league ins coring. Another lethal Russian offensive weapon.
Evgeni Artukhin- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) The only real checking forward the NHL has to offer, a big frame at 6'4 255 lbs gives Artyukhin the edge he needs to get into this line up. His role will be unquestionably as a checker on the 4th line.
Sergei Fedorov- MAGNITOGORSK METALLURG (KHL) Former NHL offensive weapon, Sergei has turned into a defensive specialist in Russia. Expect lots of 4th line time for him & if hes pair up with Datsyuk, you could see the most offeneively lethal checking line ever put together as Feds still has some offense left in him too.
Danis Zaripov- KAZAN AK BARS (KHL) Will be on whatever line Morozov ends up on as his set up man. They are a terrific combo in the KHL.
Maxim Afinogenov- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) I didnt really think when I started putting prospective teams together weeks ago he would be here in the end, but now I am more sure he will be...even if its as an extra body.
maybe- Alexander Yeremenko, Nikolai Khabibulin, Dmitri Kalinen, Dmitri Kulikov, Sergei Zubov, Oleg Tverdovsky, Vitali Atyushov, Sergei Zinoviev, Sergei Mozyakin, Oleg Saprykin, Viktor Kozlov, Alexei Mikhnov.
With every roster, I wont be surprised to have some wrong. But with Canada, I actually wont be shocked if I have a 1/3 of it wrong. There was just too many to choose from for too few open spots.
Team Canada, the host country. Canada will come in with enormous pressure on them to perform, not just by media who often act like a hockey championship should just be anointed to us, but moreso the fans, especially the unknowing fans who dont realize how lethal the other top tier countries really are. You would think 1 gold medal in 57 years would simmer our fans egos, but it doesnt. We expect gold from these guys & anything less will be considered failure. Despite them coming in ranked #2 in the world & only a couple years ago, were as low as 3rd. All that is irrelevant to the minds of Canadian hockey fans. In their minds Canada is here to pick up their Gold medals & the rest are just competing to see who shares the podium with them as silver & bronze medalists.
Reality is, the Canadian team actually looks strong on paper & thus will warrant such Gold medal predictions by the pundits & armchair analysts alike. I have complete confidence in GM Steve Yzerman to pick a strong team. I like the choice of him as a GM. I think he actually has an eye for the game & will be able to do something that his pre-decessors couldnt, put loyalties aside & pick solely on talent for the position.
Even though I know better than to toss aside the Russians, Swedes, Finns, Americans or Czech Republic as after thoughts, I too feel Canada SHOULD be the Gold favorites for 2010.
With only a few days till they announce their roster, here is what I think the team might look like.
Martin Brodeur- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) All time leader in wins & Shutouts, the backstop of the last Canada Gold Olympic medal, Marty has nothing to prove to anyone to make this team. Only question legitimately is, will be the starter?
Roberto Luongo- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) The winningest goalie in G.M Place...err Canada Hockey Place history will possibly be the starter in that very building. Great record at home this year helps his chances as well.
Marc Andre Fleury- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NHL) With the collapse of Steve Mason, MAF has leaped into the limelight for the 2010 consideration. He will still need a horrible miracle to get into a game, but he will at the very least be on the team.
Dan Boyle- SAN JOSE SHARKS (NHL) The most minutes of any Canadian defenseman means Dan has had all sorts of situations this season in SJ. He can QB a PP, play ES & kill penalties. He is a lock.
Chris Pronger- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (NHL) He probably has helped Matt carle get a spot on the U.S. roster. Having a strong year in Philly....even if the team itself isnt.
Drew Doughty- LOS ANGELES KINGS (NHL) A month ago I must confess, I foolishly told someone I dont think Doughty will be on Team Canada. I was standing ona street & didnt have the wealth of info I have here infront of me & just foolishly thought there must be more top tier Canadian dmen than him. I was wrong.
Brent Seabrook- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) I revised this spot & took out Mike Green. Seabrook has lots of chemistry with Keith & was a strong consideration & I think in the end his defensive game will bring more than Greens offensive only game. So I have switched out Green for Seabrook in the end.
Duncan Keith- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) An often used dman for Chicago in all situations, Duncan will likely come here with the task of being a shutdown dman & Penalty killer. He has some offensive punch too if its needed.
Shea Weber- NASHVILLE PREDATORS (NHL) The hard hitting Weber will be expected to anchor the 3rd pairing.
Scott Niedermayer- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) Even with the non-Niedermayeresque year he has had, Scott is still a solid lock for this team, if for no other reason than experience. The fact that statistically hes done well enough to warrant consideration helps the cause too.
Dany Heatley- SAN JOSE SHARKS (NHL) Hidden behind the strong start his teammate Joe Thornton is having is Dany. He'll be the top line left winger, regardless if his teammate centres him or not.
Sidney Crosby- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NHL) You cant make a Canada roster without Sid. Doing so is clearly a sign of 1 of two things. Either a severe hate for him, or mental instability. In either case the young Stanley Cup winning captain will be the centrepiece of the teams top line.
Jarome Iginla- CALGARY FLAMES (NHL) Probably the most well rounded player for Canada, Jarome will most certainly be on the top line, or 2nd line. Depending what type of forward pairings the coaches have in mind. In any case, he will certainly be a huge piece of any offensive attack Canada has.
Joe Thornton- SAN JOSE SHARKS (NHL) The leagues top scorer will likely take a back seat her e& play 2nd fiddle to Sid the Kid. Expect Joe Thornton to still be the set up man on the PP though. Might be no better passer right now.
Corey Perry- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) A big body who eats up big minutes & is offensively skilled, Corey Perry will be a loc for the team along with his linemate & countryman Ryan Getzlaf.
Brad Richards- DALLAS STARS (NHL) Having another terrific offensive campaign, Brad Richards in my opinion has done all he can to make a case for being on the team. He could be the victim of "too many Centresitis" if they decide to thin the roster out from Centre based players. But he should be here still.
Mike Richards- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (NHL) A penalty killing specialist by description, Mike also has offensive capabilities as well. He will be out on almost every PK situation Canada may get.
Rick Nash- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (NHL) 40 goals last year, on pace for more than that this year. A lock for their top 2 lines & PP units.
Patrick Marleau- SAN JOSE SHARKS (NHL) Great in all sections of the game, Patrick can be used on the PP, ES & PK. He'll likely be logging a lot of minutes. What line, that is still a question.
Mike Fisher- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) Yes, Canada needs checkers. So whats even better than a checking forward? One that has offensive flair as well. Mike Fisher will likely get 4th line minutes by the bunchloads, expect him to do a a lot of PK time too.
Dustin Penner- EDMONTON OILERS (NHL) I surprised a lot of people by saying this in conversation. Most of them dont think hes as legit as the point totals suggest. I have been big on him for awhile, and I think hs size is the final straw in adding him to the line up. Great 3rd line pressence & possible big body for the PP.
Ryan Getzlaf- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) You cant pick Perry & leave Getlaf off. They are going to be paired together to see if they can mesh on the world stage as well as they do in the NHL.
Martin St Louis- TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (NHL) All offense, Martin might get into the line up if some more offensive spark is somehow required. For the mostpart, he is probably watching from the press box though.
maybe- Marty Turco, Chris Mason, Brent Seabrook, Jay Bouwmeester, Stephane Robidas, Mike Cammalleri, Ryan Smyth, Brenden Morrow, Jonathan Toews.
The defending Olympic champions come into the 2010 Olympics ranked 3rd.
Sweden will be looking to repeat their 2006 performance. They seem to have a Gold, bronze or 5th place mentality when it comes to the Olympics in recent years. They havent finished in a spot other than those three places since 1972. 2 golds, 3 bronze, 3 5th place finishes in that time.
The team will be coming in with a legitimate star studded team that could include the likes of Peter Forsberg if his comeback over in Sweden is coming along as well as he hopes it is. With the Sedin twins, Alfredsson & Zetterberg rounding out the top offensive units, you can expect them to be able to play a run & gun game with any country out there.
In goal, all world star Henrik Lundqvist will be front & centre. The back up role will likely go to NHLer Johan Hedberg. The 3rd string goalie may be NHLer Gustavsson if he is healthy enough to play, but its more than likely going to a SEL goalie, perhaps Markstrom.
On defense they have Nick Lidstrom. Do you really need more? Some of their younger guys like Enstrom, Edler & Stralman have all had terrific years & make their d-core much stronger than it might have been even a year ago.
Henrik Lundqvist- NEW YORK RANGERS (NHL) The top goalie in Sweden is undoubtedly Lundqvist. He'll be given the number 1 spot & even if he stumbles, its unlikely he'll be replaced.
Mikael Tellqvist- KAZAN AK-BARS/LUKKO RAAMA (KHL/FINLAND) A former NHL back up, Mikael started the year in the KHL did well there, but recently moved to Finland to play. I originally had Johan Hedberg in this spot, only to find out he isnt eligible for the tournament.
Jacob Markstrom- BRYNAS IF GAVLE (SEL) Barring injuury, Markstrom is probably just here to watch the tournament.
Nick Lidstrom- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) 6 Norros Trophies. Enough said.
Niklas Kronwall- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) If hes healthy enough, hes in for sure.
Tobias Enstrom- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) Having an exceptional year offensively. Tobias will very likely be seen as a QB for the PP.
Alex Edler- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) Having the best year of his career so far, Alex has a minor injury right now, but is expected back in plenty of time for the Olympics. Will be primarily 2nd unit ES & PP.
Anton Stralman- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (NHL) Another player having an exceptional career year, Anton will get some PP time & probable 3rd unit ES time.
Niklas Hjalmarsson- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) Expect him out there on most PK situations & ES.
Henrik Tallinder- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) If the are looking for more defensive responsibility, Tallinder might draw in ahead of Stralman. Another PK option.
Daniel Sedin- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) After an early season injury that kept him out 6 wks, he has returned with a vengeance & has helped his twin brother vault near the top of the leagues scoring leaders.
Henrik Sedin- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) Right now 3rd in the entire NHL in pts. Henrik showed he isnt just an exceptional passer this season, but capable of scoring too. His brother & him will be 2/3 of the top line.
Nicklas Backstrom- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) One of the top players on one of the top teams, Nicklas has cemented himself as a probable number 2 centre. Only question will be if Forsberg is handed that spot instead.
Daniel Alfredsson- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) Whether its Forsberg or Backstrom, Alfie will be the other top end scorer on the 2nd line.
Henrik Zetterberg- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) Probable top line linemate for the Sedin twins. Question right now with a recent injury. If it is long term, he might not be added.
Peter Forsberg- MODO ORNSKODLSVIK (SEL) Absolutely dominating the Swedish league since returning. Peter could be the #2 centre, if not he'll at the least have the 3rd line spot.
Tomas Holmstrom- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) One of the best 2 way players in teh game, Tomas will be looked upon for offensive support, and defensive responsibility. A 3rd line lock who could fill in 2nd line duties if someone struggles.
Loui Eriksson- DALLAS STARS (NHL) An offensive contributor, will likely get 3rd line duties here.
Samuel Pahlsson- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) A checking forward who is a near lock for the teams checking line.
Mikael Samuelsson- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) I'm not sold on him being there, but due to a lack of other options (Bergfors ineligible & Franzen still injured) Samuelsson will probably make hiw way onto the team. If Franzen is healthy, he'll bump Samuelsson most likely.
Tom Wandell- DALLAS STARS (NHL) Will probably be another checking line addition with Pahlsson.
Mattias Weinhandl- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL) Strong contributor in the KHL offensively, Mattias might sneak into a top line spot with the Sedins where he has played & had success before.
Tony Martensson- LINKOPING HC (SEL) The top scorer in the SEL, Tony will probably be here more for image in Sweden than actual playing time. Might get into the line up, but will more likely be scratched most nights.
maybe- Jonas Gustavsson, Johan Holmqvist, Viktor Hedman, Doug Murray, David Petrasek, Johan Franzen.
Finland is coming in the 4th ranked country by the IIHF.
A silver medal last Olympics & a silver & 2 bronze in the last 4 World Championships has the Finnish team seriously thinking medals here too & they certainly are capable of the feat.
In goal, they might have the strongest duo in the tourney with Kirpusoff & Backstrom. Whoever they pick for the 3rd goalie is also very likely going to be a decent pick for the 3 spot, whether its Nittymaki, Rask or new up & comer Antti Niemi.
On defense, they have a capable unit. Although it might be their weakness overall, its still not too shabby with the likes of Timonen, Salo & Pitkanen patrolling the line. But it is a more offensively skilled than neccesarily defensively skilled unit.
Up front this team has some offensive skill, but if Teemu Selanne cant go, it will be offensively challenged in comparison to the other top tier countries. The Koivu brothers & Olli Jokinen will be expected to fill in as secondary scoring to the Finnish Flash.
Miika Kiprusoff- CALGARY FLAMES (NHL) Kipper has come out & said he wont go if he isnt the starter. Since then he has done pretty much everything he can to justify him being the starter. Finland will quite likely give him the spot. But if he falters even slightly, they will not hesitate to jump to Niklas.
Niklas Backstrom- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) Could be the starter if Kiprusoff falters even slightly. Most deserving of a number 1 spot, but will probably play back up so that the Finns can keep Kipper happy.
Tuuka Rask- BOSDTON BRUINS (NHL) Has been a top prospect for awhile & has played very well this year, Tuuka will probably be the 3rd goalie, although he has some competition lurking around in the form of Nittymaki & Niemi. But I think hes just been more consistent & consistently good out of the 3, so he'll get the nod.
Kimmo Timonen- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (NHL) Leads in every offensive category for Finnish defenders. Will be on the top unit & top PP unit. Will also be expected to play considerable SH time.
Sami Salo- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) Although hes having a quiet year offensively so far, the potential for what he can do on the PP gives Sami a lock on this team. Maybe anchoring the 2nd unit & the other option on the 1st PP unit.
Joni Pitkanen- CAROLINA HURRICANES (NHL) Has been a decent set up man this year, but defensively is struggling greatly. Expect to see in even strength & PP situations.
Sami Lepisto- PHOENIX COYOTES (NHL) Will very likely round out the 3rd unit & get some PP ice time.
Toni Lydman- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) He'll get some game action, whether its just as a 3rd unit piece, or if he gets any SH & PP time is still up in the air.
Lasse Kukkonen- OMSK AVANGARD (KHL) The best of the bunch overseas has probably been Kukkonen, so he will probably beat out part time NHLer Salmela & SEL PP star Puistola for the final spot.
Ossi Vaananen- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) A former NHL defenseman who has had a resurgence in Russia this season. Not going to be relied on offensively, he will be able to work solely on being a shutdown dman.
Teemu Selanne- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) Assuming he is back in time to play, Teemu is a lock. He will be their top offensive weapon & will be relied on heavily in PP situations. If he cant go, the Finns are going to notable struggle offensively, even with the other NHL level players they have.
Saku Koivu- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) He might not be an offensive dynamo anymore, but he still has a touch. he'll get top 2 line minutes for sure & some PP time on the top unit perhaps.
Mikko Koivu- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) An offensive weapon who is also a strong checker, Mikko will be out there probably the most of all the forwards as he can play in all situations.
Olli Jokinen- CALGARY FLAMES (NHL) An underperforming year offensively right now, Olli is still looked at as one of the countries top offensive weapons. Expect lots of PP time & top 2 lines time.
Niklas Hagman- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) A strong offensive year from Niklas will get him a look as a top 2 line forward. He has done the role of checker before, so if needed he can fill in there too.
Antti Mietinen- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) A recent offensive struggle has perhaps triggered some concerns for a guy the Finns probably had penciled into their top 2 lines. Regardless, he will still be here, even if its as a 3rd liner.
Tuomo Ruutu- CAROLINA HURRICANES (NHL) Having a relatively good year offensively, they will look at Tumo as a probable top 2 line player.
Jarkko Ruutu- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) A tough checker who has some offensive skills. Jarkko will be a 2 way player on the 3rd line that they will rely on to aggitate the other teams top players.
Jussi Jokinen- CAROLINA HURRICANES (NHL) A reasonable offensive year & a penchant for shootout goals, Jussi will come in as a 3rd line type player who will be relied on heavily if a game is headed to the dreaded shootout.
Jere Lehtinen- DALLAS STARS (NHL) Getting a bit older, but still has a decent grasp on the defensive side of the game. A checking role is his for sure.
Valtteri Filppula- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) If he is unable to go, this spot will go to his teammate Leino. If he is able to go, expect him to be out there potentially in all situations.
Niko Kapanen- KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL) In Russia he has developed into a decent checking forward. Will probably get a role like that here.
Petteri Nokelainen- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) Will be there solely for his defensive game & not much more.
maybe- Antti Niemi, Antero Nittymaki, Anssi Salmela, Ville Koistinen, Pasi Puistola, Ville Leino, Jarkko Immonen, Jukka Voutilainen, Tuomas Pihlman, Ville Peltonen, Hannes Hyvonen.
At 5th in the IIHF rankings the U.S. team the 2010 Olympics will see, is coming in with hopes of a medal. The hopes for any medal contention will fall solely on the shoulders of Ryan Miller. Tim Thomas might be the Vezina trophy winner, but Miller is far & away the better goalie. The battle for number 3 is one that I wont be surprised if I get wrong. Its in my opinion a 4 horse race. Early in the season Craig Anderson looked like a lock. Lately Jonathan Quick seems like the odds on favorite, but few have considered Ty Conklin & Jim Howard, both who have had exceptional seasons as well. Theres even the small (although highly unlikely) potential of Robert Esche, one of the top goalies in the KHL this season being on their radar, but I think he will be snubbed for a North American playing goalie.
The team on defense is young, but not as young as it would have been had Tyler Myers been eligible to play for it. The 18 yr old stud defenseman, American born, opted to play for Canada in the junior championships & thus is not eligible for the U.S. team.
Forwards are a good mix of young, old, speedy & skilled. With young studs like Parise, Stastny, Kane & Ryan, they wont have to worry about scoring. Guys like Kesler, Rolston & Langebrunner will be able to play solid defensive games and contribute a bit offensively.
Overall, the U.S. squad is one of the more rounded ones they have had in awhile. Chances for a medal are decent.
Ryan Miller- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) The undisputed best goalie in the U.S. right now. Leads in GGA, SPCT, SO & 1 win out of 1st in wins. He is the starter without hesitation.
Tim Thomas- BOSTON BRUINS (NHL) Solely based on his performance last season Tim will be here as the back up. Realistically, hes had an average season & there is likely more deserving players, but a Norris trophy winner last year gets him a partial pass on an average season so far.
Jim Howard- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) I am picking him solely because in the last few weeks hes had amazing stats, hes been a starter now & hes managed to climb from the bottom of my prospective goalies list to almost the top in a matter of weeks. Best of the bunch over the past while & has been the backbone of a resurgence of the Wings lately. This is by far a lock though, especially if Burkie had his choices made prior to the start of December for his goalies.
Erik Johnson- ST LOUIS BLUES (NHL) The probable 1st unit PP QB for USA, Erik will be a probable top pair starter.
Alex Goligoski- PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (NHL) Although hes cooled off a touch this last couple weeks, he is still having a sound defensive game as well & clearly has an offensive flair as well which makes his capable in all situations.
Matt Carle- PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (NHL) Maybe its Chris Pronger who has had something to do with it, but Matt Carle is set to possibly have the best season of his short career already.
Ryan Suter- NASHVILLE PREDATORS (NHL) The Preds are climbing the standings right now & you can put a large chunk of that on their defense core, including Suter. With 7 pts & a +8 in their last 8 games, he has cemented what was already a probable spot before then.
Ryan Whitney- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) His strong offensive game will be his ticket onto the team. If they dont feel the need for his offense, he might not be here though. Defensively there are better options.
Andy Greene- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) Who had Andy Greene even on their short list at the start of the year? Probably no one, including me. But injuries in NJ (including Paul Martin who might replace him depending on his return status) has seen Greenes stock rise dramatically & right now, I would have to question leaving a dman with 3 GWG & 4 PP goals off your roster. That +8 rating likely doesnt hurt his chances either.
Brian Rafalski- DETROIT RED WINGS (NHL) One of the most experienced dmen the U.S. has. Brian will be here not just on his past championship & major international tourney experience, but on the fact hes had a decent year again at both ends of the ice.
Zach Parise- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) The top goals, assists & points scorer for the U.S. last year, Zach has returned to that same form this year, leading the American offensive charge again. He will be expected to carry the load offensively.
Paul Stastny- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) The Avs are fighting for a division title early in this season, and much of that is because of Paul Stastny & his offensive contributions. USA will hope for the same contributions in Vancouver.
Patrick Kane- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) His off season issues have not seemed to have damaged his game much. Patrick is again having a solid year offensively. A pt per game pace & a likely top line spot & lots of PP time will make him dangerous.
Ryan Kesler- VANCOUVER CANUCKS (NHL) A Selke trophy finalist last season, Ryan has perhaps even improved on that performance this season. Offensively he has picked his game up a notch, maybe even two.
Jamie Langenbrunner- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) Has lots of offensive talent, but is also an exceptional defensive minded forward who will probably get lots of time in all situations.
Ryan Malone- TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (NHL) A literal resurgence for Ryan Malone this year has placed him on this team. He is struggling a bit lately, but his early season efforts have him safely on the team. The American staff is just hoping he gets that touch back by February.
Bobby Ryan- ANAHEIM DUCKS (NHL) If this tourney was a year later I think he would be on the top line. Since its now however, he'll do quite fine as their 2nd unit winger.
Phil Kessel- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) The Leafs have come on strong since Kessel returned from an injury. His pt per game avg has him on the team, even if the National teams GM didnt have a club team connection to him in Toronto.
Tim Connolly- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL) Will fill a 3rd line scoring role. Could be moved to a 2nd line spot if others falter.
RJ Umberger- COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (NHL) Long as he can get along with sure thing Ryan Kesler, RJ Umberger should do well in a checking role & still bring offensive skills to the position.
Dustin Brown- LOS ANGELES KINGS (NHL) A good offensive player, it will be a defensive role the American staff will probably put on him here though. Expect him as a 3rd liner.
Jason Blake- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) Playing for the National teams GM will get him on the team. Brian Burke will put Jason here for no other reason but to hopefully give his player a boost of confidence for the rest of the NHL season. He has the stats to justify it as well.
Brian Rolston- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) my first roster at the end of Oct, he wasnt even on my "outside chance" list. Mid Nov list still not on it. Finally at the end of Nov I placed him at the bottom of my "outside chance" list. If I am wrong about him being here I wont be shocked. His surge has been only recently & maybe its too late to get recognized. But his stats & experience make me consider him an option & if he keeps it up thru till decision day, maybe Burkie scratches out whoever he has here & puts him in instead.
maybe- Craig Anderson, Jonathan Quick, Brooks Orpik, Zach Bogosian, Jack Johnson, Keith Tkachuk, Dustin Byfuglien, David Booth, Jason Pominville, Kyle Okposo.
The Czech Republic comes into 2010 Olympics ranked 6th by the IIHF. They havent medalled in a World Championship in 3 years, finishing no higher than 5th in that time. Their 6th ranking is the lowest they have had in many years.
Dont count this jekyl & hyde team out though, its still loaded with stud star players. The team is ripe with all-stars & hall of fame calibur players.
Tomas Vokoun- FLORIDA PANTHERS (NHL) Whether Dominik Hasek can go or not, Vokoun is likely the starter.
Dominik Hasek- PARDUBICE HC (CZECH). When unarguably one of the best goalies in the history of the game says he wants in, you dont argue much with him being there. Even if there are multiple obstacles, most notably, an injury that has seen him only play 3 games this season. If he can go, he is there. If not, the back up will be Pavelec & the 3rd string will likely be young Michael Neuvirth.
Ondrej Pavelec- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) If Dom cant go, he is the uncontested back up.
Tomas Kaberle- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) Clearly far & away the top defenseman from the Czech team. Tomas will be expected to play heavy minutes against the top units of the opposition.
Marek Zidlicky- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) A power play specialist, Marek will log lots of PP time & likely #2 unit ES minutes.
Pavel Kubina- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL) This 6'4 rock will take a lot of the checking duties & will likely play with Zidkicky who is a bit less defensive minded.
Roman Hamrlik- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Another PP specialist, with a strong shot. Roman will log lots of PP mins, but has a defensive skill set as well which will make him usable in all situations.
Ladislav Smid- EDMONTON OILERS (NHL) A solid +13 this season, and some offensive skills will make him a usable piece in all situations.
Jaroslav Spacek- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) 700 NHL games & a strong season this year at both ends of the ice are hard to ignore. Should be on this team.
Karel Rachunek- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL) The best of the European based dmen should make this team. What capacity is not entirely sure.
Martin Havlat- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) Having a slow year offensively adjusting to the Wild system of play. Still expected to be a top unit contributor though.
Patrik Elias- NEW JERSEY DEVILS (NHL) Since returning from injury, he has shown flashes of his old self. Minus a small 3 game blip a couple weeks ago, Hes scored pts in 10 of 11 games.
Milan Hejduk- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) Will be expected to score goals, and likely will fill that role.
Vaclav Prospal- NEW YORK RANGERS (NHL) The Rangers have been lucky enough to catch Prospal on an even numbered season. The epitome of Jekyl & Hyde is doing it again this season, having a stellar year after a letdown one last season. The Czechs must be thrilled the Olympics are this year for this reason.
Jaromir Jagr- OMSK AVANGARD (KHL). Like Hasek, he is there simply by default. But he has done well in the KHL to validate his spot. The all time leading scorer amongst Czech players in the NHL will only really need to think about whether he is on the top line, or 2nd line.
Tomas Plekanec- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) The top scoring Czech in the NHL is a lock for the team, just what line will he play?
Tomas Fleischmann- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) Yes I know. Anyone could score with Semin, backstrom, Greene or Ovechkin helping them. But dont be fooled, he showed these skills even in the AHL where none of them were there to help him.
Martin Erat- NASHVILLE PREDATORS (NHL) A few weeks ago I doubted his spot on the team, but hes strengtehned his offensive game lately & now I see him as a probable top 2-3 line guy.
Milan Michalek- OTTAWA SENATORS (NHL) A slow Decemeber has dropped his stock some, but hes still expected to be on the 2nd line, or 3rd line.
Jiri Hudler- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL) Forget Jagr, Jiri Hudler is the top scoring Czech in Russia this year. He'll be used in offensive situations certainly, but in probably will be 2nd or 3rd line mostly.
Petr Sykora- MINNESOTA WILD (NHL) if he is back from his concussion by then, he'll make the team.
Roman Cervenka- SLAVIA PRAHA HC (CZECH) The runaway scoring leader of the Czech league will probably be on this team. Will he be used in an offensive spot is still to be determined. Too many offensive weapons, not enough spots. But he'll still be here for no other reason but to reward his great play this year in the Czech Republic.
David Krejci- BOSTON BRUINS (NHL) After last seasons superb campaign, there were high hopes for David this year. he hasnt met them YET, but shows flashes of last years skills. He'll be here solely based on what he showed last year.
Radim Vrbata- PHOENIX COYOTES (NHL) Has offensive skills, but will be expected to play generally a checking role here.
maybes- Michael Neuvirth, Zbenek Michalek, Ales Kotalik, Jakub Voracek, Robert Lang, Michal Frolik.
Belarus comes into the 2010 Olympics ranked 8th, the highest ranking this nation has ever had. Of course, they are still remembered for their miracle run in 2002 where they eventually fell to the powerful Russians in the bronze medal game after their miracle victory in the semi-finals over power house Sweden.
After that amazing finish they fell on hard times, doing as poorly as 18th just 2 years later in the World Championship tournament. The last 4 years have shown some promise as they have finished 6th, 11th, 9th & 8th just last year.
These Olympics they are going in looking to improve on the standings they have reached currently. They certainly realize another medal game isnt likely, but with 2002 still fresh in the minds of many, they will still try for another miracle run. They have a few NHLers scattered thru the line up, but they are not realistically going to be a huge threat to the top tier of teams again.
Andrei Mezin- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- The man behind the miracle 2002 run is still seen as the overwhelming #1 for this team.
Vitali Koval- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- A back up to Andrei in the KHL, Vitali will fill the same role here too.
Stepan Goryachevskikh- YUNOST MINSK (BELARUS)- Unlikely to get much if any playing time, he has been one of the better goalies in Belarus & is young enough that the experience of being here will pay off for the country down the road when Mezin retires.
Ruslan Salei- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) As the sole member of his teams defense core in the NHL, Ruslan will be expected to take on big time minutes.
Vladimir Denisov- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- Putting up decent numbers in the KHL this year after a reasonable year in the AHL last season.. Probably will get lots of PP time.
Sergei Kolosov- GRAND RAPID GRIFFINS (AHL) His year & 1/2 of AHL play is enough to give him a notable spot on this team.
Alexander Makritsky- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- If healthy, he is on the team. Only 3 GP so far this year though.
Viktor Kostyuchenok- MOSCOW SPARTAK (KHL). A trade this season has slowed his offensive game, but he should still be on this team in some role.
Dmitri Korobov- UNKNOWN (last in KHL). At 20 yrs old & 6'6, he should be a lock for the team...even though I cant find where he is playing this season if anywhere. Maybe in Belarusian league? Hard finding stats from there.
Alexander Riadinski- UNKNOWN. Probably in Belarus. Was on their World Championship team last year & played the most minutes of any of their dmen. This gives me reason to believe he'll be there for 2010.
Andrei Antonov- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) By default of being in a major pro league, he will fill out the defense core.
Mikhail Grabovski- TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (NHL) The teams top offensive weapon will be expected to get along with his countrymen the Kostitsyn brothers, there is unfriendly feelings between them.
Andrei Kostitsyn- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Having a slight downturn offensively this year, Andrei will still be expected to take top line ice time.
Sergei Kostitsyn- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Where Andrei is, Sergei will be there too. Whether its supporting Grabovski, or on their own line is still to be answered.
Konstantin Koltsov- UFA SALAVAT YUALYEV (KHL)- A very good 2 way player will be expected to be a leader for the team & probably will be out there in all situations.
Alexei Kalyuzhny- MOSCOW DYNAMO (KHL)- Will likely be on the 2nd line. Just a question of with who.
Oleg Antonenko- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- a trade this season has possibly hindered his chances some, but even at 38, he is still producing decent enough numbers to see a spot on the team in one of the top 3 lines.
Alexei Ugarov- BALASHIKHA MVD HC (KHL)- Will be a suitable 3rd liner who can take 2nd line minutes if needed.
Sergei Demagin- NIZHNEKAMSK NEFTEKHIMIK (KHL). An early season trade away from Minsk has lit a fire under him. Gone from 1 pt in 7 GP to 19 pts in 23 GP since the trade.
Dmitry Meleshko- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) First full year in Minsk is showing that he can produce offensively. Defensive game will be what they will probably require of him here though.
Dmitry Dudik- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- Has taken his role as a 3rd liner well, and will be expected such duties on this team will be within his capabilities.
Roman Voloshenko- UNKNOWN. A once promising top NHL prospect, Roman has quite literally fallen off the major hockey map. I'm assuming hes in Belarus, but not sure. I cant find anything about him having any career ending injury. So I am assuming hes still playing. I am putting him here purely on the fact he was a capable AHL scorer only a few seasons ago. Could be off the team if is regression has actually been this severe.
Sergei Zadelenov- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL)- playing checking line role in Minsk means a good chance he'll get that call on this squad as well.
Yarloslav Chupris- MINSK DYNAMO (KHL) Top scorer on Minsk last season has TWO whole points this year. Might make team based on last seasons performance.
maybes- Ivan Usenko, Aleksandr Zhurik, Andrei Mikhalev, Sergei Drozd, Sergei Kukushkin, Evgeny Kurilin.
Canadagraphs Hockey Blogs
From time to time I have something to say on hockey. Whether its the Vancouver Canucks, NHL in general, Womens Hockey or International Hockey...if I have something to post, it will be in here.