zach parise 3

I won’t get too deep into my own background here, but the short version is I’m a dual citizen who’s lived in both Canada and the US for roughly 15 years each. Buuut, the bulk of my young memory-forming years – from ages six-to-20 or so – were in Canada, so needless to say, I was hooked up to the country’s hockey IV and saturated with the good stuff from an early age.

I’ve got a lot of love for the US in pretty much every regard…except when it comes to hockey. Canada did not fail to win my loyalty on the ice.

And so, we come to me selecting the US hockey roster for the 2013 Olympics. As fun as it would be for me to select a bunch of dogs, the truth is – and you should know this up front – this is not the official Olympic roster. I don’t actually get to choose it. Because of that reality, I’ll do my best to select the best available team.

This is my opinion, and we’ll get to yours in the comments. 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies, let’s go:

Forwards

The Locks

David Backesdavid backes 3

Dustin Brown

Patrick Kane

Ryan Kesler

Phil Kessel

Max Pacioretty

Zach Parise

Joe Pavelski

Bobby Ryan

I don’t really have much to add here, aside from “please remember my policy of not giving much of a darn about forward positions.” These guys are making the team. Moving on.

***

With Decent Starts, Yeps

Ryan Callahanryan callahan 3

James Van Riemsdyk

Blake Wheeler

Derek Stepan

Holy hell, that makes 13 forwards, we’re almost there without too much stress. I realize that any of the above names could come out perilously slow next season and scare the American team away from picking them, but basically if that group gets off to decent starts, they’re going to make the team.

Soooo let’s stress about the last spot.

***

Just Barely Made It

tj oshieTJ Oshie

I’m a big fan of T.J. Oshie’s game – he’s more than just points, even though he’s produced those at a decent level too. But he’s killed penalties for years with Backes, he brings great energy, and he’s miserable to play.

***

Bubble Guys

Paul Stastnystas

Brandon Saad

Alex Galchenyuk

Kyle Okposo

I think Stastny is your first fill-in (always nice to bring another center along, and his composure and decision-making ability could go a long way on the big ice). That said, it’s impossible to predict what to expect from sophomore NHL seasons, so if someone’s hurt (and someone will be), I wouldn’t be shocked to see either Saad or Galchenyuk be given real consideration.

To the (surprisingly strong) back-end!

***

Defensemen

The Locks

Ryan Suterryan suter3

Keith Yandle

Barring injury, their names will be on the back on US jerseys in Sochi.

***

The Quite Likelys

Zach Bogosianzach bogosian

Paul Martin

Dustin Byfuglien

Ryan McDonagh

It boggles the mind that some people are still unsure about Byfuglien here. Footspeed is no concern because I don’t believe that you need faster players with bigger ice, you need guys that are more contained and composed, because if you stray too far you can leave even bigger holes, and it’s often the speedy guys who stray a lot knowing they can usually recover. I’d have zero qualms about taking Big Buff.

***

Right Side of the Bubble

Jack Johnson

jack johnson

Jack Johnson may be an advanced stat nightmare, but he’s entering his peak years as a defenseman, he’s talented and strong and is used to eating big minutes. I wouldn’t be surprised if he has a great season and really starts to figure some things out. D-men can take awhile to mature, especially the ones who fall in love with what they can do instead of what they should do, as I think Johnson has in the past.

Kevin Shattenkirk

Shattenkirk gets the nod for me because I believe he’s showing signs of being a great top pair NHL d-man, while the guy in the category below has been given every opportunity on Earth to demonstrate that, and hasn’t.

***

Wrong Side of the Bubble

Erik Johsonerik johnson

He’s not bad, and I’m not writing him off by any means, but at some point real soon it’s going to start feeling like we’re forcing a career on this guy that he hasn’t earned. Ah, the perks of the high draft pick. (What a dickish picture selection, Bourne.)

Brooks Orpik

I think Orpik is…fine. He’s reliable, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him make the team. I’m just not so sure why everyone loves his game so much. He’s…fine?

John Carlson

If Carlson gets off to a good start I think he’ll get a real long look.

***

The Next Ones

Jake GardinerBoston Bruins v Toronto Maple leafs

Justin Faulk

Cam Fowler

I’ve been pretty open about my infatuation with Jake Gardiner’s skill set, so I might as well add to it by saying that making Team USA is entirely doable, and entirely up to him. There’s a tire fire of players with all the tools who never find a way to put it together, but I don’t think we’re going to end up tossing Gardiner on it. If he takes the step many of us have predicted he will, he could find himself in Sochi.

***

Goaltenders

Cripes, what an embarrassment of riches the US team has in the crease. And that’s with Tim Thomas left out of the equation, who left the game at a faaaiiirrrllly high level just two years ago, if you recall.

Your Starter

Jonathan Quickjonathan quick3

My favourite part of the selections I’ve made here: the five goalies listed are in order of their save percentage from the 2013 season.

Wait, I said that wrong — the five goalies listed are in order of their 2013 save percentage in reverse. Last year: Anderson (.941), Schneider (.927), Howard (.923), Miller (.915), Quick (.902).

A couple of my co-workers here in the office have not been shy about predicting some not-great things for the career of Jonathan Quick, but to me, he seems like the best of the bunch. He’s confident, crazy-athletic and very capable. So for now, he’s my guy.

***

The Back-Up Duel

Ryan Millerryan miller 3

Jimmy Howard

I feel like Ryan Miller is better than his numbers the last couple years (still league average or above), and you have to remember he’s been behind a poorus (spelled that way on purpose) Sabres defense corps. It’s also a contract year for him, so I think he’ll be looking mighty fine come 2014.

Jimmy Howard has multiple seasons of success under his belt. There’s not much guessing when it comes to him.

***

It’s Up To Them

Cory Schneider

cory schneider3

Not good enough to be a starter anywhere, so forget him.

…I kid, I kid. We’ll see what kind of start Schneider has. I could definitely see him playing his way into the conversation, and to be honest, I wouldn’t be jaw-on-the-floor shocked if he ended up the starter by the time it’s all said and done. Now that’s depth.

Craig Anderson

Do you believe a goalie who pitched a .913 in 63 starts in 2011-12 is suddenly a .941 starter? Me either. Anderson had a great 24 games last year, but was due to come back to earth.

***

And so, your roster, with a reminder that the lines aren’t important to me for now, nor are the pairings. That’s another game (which we’ll get to eventually) entirely.

As long as you’ve got enough centers you can figure it out from there, and I’d rather take the correct defenseman than worry about which side the puck is coming from when they make their decisions.

Forwards

Kessel – Parise – Kane

Pavelski – Kesler – Backes

Pacioretty – Brown – Ryan

Van Riemsdyk – Stepan – Wheeler

Callahan – Oshie

Defensemen

Suter – Yandle

Byfuglien – Martin

Bogosian- McDonagh

J. Johnson – Shattenkirk

Goalies

Quick

Miller

Howard

So, what are your thoughts? What would you add or subtract?

Comments (30)

  1. If Schneider does put up solid numbers but only gets limited starts (remember, he’s in NJ now playing behind that Brodeur guy) between October and January, then does he crack his way in or will he have to be starting on a consistent basis?

    • Maybe not getting a full workload could help, in this situation. “Hey, I’m going to have you play 40 NHL games, with tons of back-to-backs because we had to work in a couple week break for the olympics, then we have to fly you half way across the world to play more hockey. Feeling good?”

  2. I agree with nearly all your player selections, but perhaps you can explain your position (as opposed to line) choices: Pavelski and Backes, both of whom play lots at center, are on the wing, while Parise and Brown are in the middle. Parise has not played center (or centre) in several years. Brown was drafted as a winger, and has remained there his whole career.

  3. Bruins fan so take this as you will but I’m not all that high on Wheeler. I wasn’t all that sad to see him leave. Other than that can’t really complain. Would love to see a trio of Schneider, Quick and Howard for nothing other than the fact that they were all Hockey East goalies (not that that matters and I don’t think you can really go wrong with any of the goalies you listed).

    • Wheeler has really produced a lot in Winnipeg–he’s a 60-70 point player now. Considering the Americans will be bringing along 50pt players like Callahan and Brown, hard to leave off a guy that produces much more.

  4. Players are about right, Lineup doesn’t have a chance at being right. There are four centers on the team with Stepen, Pavelski, Backes and Kesler. Three of them are not going to play on the same line.

    If I had to guess, we will see

    Parise-Kesler-Ryan
    Kane-Pavelski-Kessel
    Pacioretty-Backes-Brown
    Van Riemsdyk – Stepan – Wheeler

  5. Give me Stastny over Wheeler but otherwise I’m pretty much ok with it.

    • I definitely agree with this! Stastny is a great player for the big ice in that his hockey IQ is huge. He’s done well in other international tournaments including last year’s WC.

  6. Kane-Kesler-Kessel needs to happen, AKA the Three Strikes Line. (Although I guess both Kane and Kessel are RW.)

    • Only have 3 LWs(Parise, Pacs and Van Reimsdyk), someone is going to be out of position.

      • Dustin Brown plays either wing. He was drafted as a right winger, but, has played left wing very effectively for the Kings the past 2 seasons.

    • Whoa, easy there Tim Thomas.

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      • Is there a joke here I’m missing?

  7. Maybe he makes it because Bylsama is the coach but Paul Martin hasn’t been very good in Pit. the last two year. Would literally prefer any other name you listed over him especially Carlson.

    • Martin was actually very good last season. A complete 180 from the year before. It was remarkable.

      • If by very good you mean the 3rd or 4th best Pittsburgh defenseman

        • I feel like Martin gets a lot of (deserved) flak for his poor 11-12, but really, in his last six seasons he has one bad one (11-12), one injured one (09-10), and four good ones. Gotta think the good is the norm here, not the bad.

  8. Did you consider positions when making those lines? I ask, because, well…

  9. This is just being nitpicky, but assuming that Bylsma is going to match power with power I’d switch Pavelski and Parise. Pavelski is much better defensively, and also has outscored Parise over the last 4 years.

    I’m curious to see what kind of numbers Miller puts up when he’s got something to play for. It’s been a rough 3 years in Buffalo and he strikes me as a guy who will play a lot better when there are some real stakes.

    • Pavelski outscored Parise over the last 4 years, because Parise only play 10 games one of those years. All three years they were both largely healthy, Parise outscored Pavelski by healthy margins.

      Good example of making stats fit a point though. Parise scored .88 PPG over that stretch, Pavelski scored .77 PPG.

  10. Jesus Christ. He said right in the damn article…3rd Sentence before he lists the lines….

    “with a reminder that the lines aren’t important to me for now, nor are the pairings.”

    3 of the first 12 comments….Troll much?

  11. My problem with Buff isn’t that he’s slow, it’s that he doesn’t make great defensive decisions. Heckuva shot, and tough, and mean, and dedicated, for sure — but a circa-2009 Zdeno Chara he ain’t.

  12. Just curious what makes you pick Bogosian over Shattenkirk. Is Bogosian much more solid in the defensive end? His size? Shattenkirk brings much more offense scoring more points that bogosian in nearly 100 less games.

  13. i like this line up more than i like Canadas line up.. although it doesnt matter cause Russia is going to smoke everyone, but yes JB good call on this shit, i’ve seen so many line ups that had Paul Stastny and not Derek Stepan.. made no sense

  14. WCHA fan here…

    Many don’t realize Backes doesn’t want to play Center, he is actually a natural RW.
    Oshie doesn’t like to play to LW, he likes Center. (He centered a kid named Jonathan Toews in college, look how that turned out for JT getting drafted 3rd overall hahaha)

    Hitchcock admitted he had no idea Oshie played Center, and that Backes was raised a Winger, but he likes big bodies down the middle, because that’s Hitch hockey…

    I think Shattenkirk is a 2nd pairing D-man on this Team. He won’t be playing 27+ minutes for the Blues because J-Bo get’s that.. He won’t be playing 25+ minutes because Pietrangelo get’s that.. But he will be playing 23+ minutes with Leopold, which will help raise his stock on Team USA’s radar..

    I’m so thankful J Bourne left off Erik Johnson off the team. The guy get’s way tooooooooooooooooo much credit for playing 1 good Jr tournament in 2005/2006.

    Also never understood the hoopla with Wheeler, he was drafted earlier than a guy like Oshie, yet hasn’t scored at the pace of Oshie, yet he’s considered a better player, is it because he played without a visor? (LOL)

  15. Scheider MUST make the team, because Luongo vs. Schneider is why.

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