11 New York Rangers Who Could Play in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics
Orientation camp invites have been released, and Sochi, Russia, should see them at least match that 2010 number in 2014.
We'll take a look at the eight who received camp invites, who's a lock to land on a roster, who's on the bubble and who's getting snubbed.
All statistics courtesy of hockey-reference.com.
Rick Nash, Canada
Save perhaps Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash has the most success to speak of in international play.
The beginning was bittersweet. Nash was a member of the 2002 World Juniors team that gave up a lead and lost to Russia, 5-4. In the tournament, he tallied three points in six games.
He's played in 34 IIHF World Championship games spread across four tournaments, scoring 23 goals and 21 assists en route to one gold and one silver medal.
The pinnacle so far was his contribution to the 2010 team that took gold in overtime against the U.S. in Vancouver. He scored two goals and three assists in seven games.
Nash will be a key component in Canada's attempt to repeat as gold medalists. Expect him to skate on the second line.
Henrik Lundqvist, Sweden
Hailed by many as the world's best goaltender, Henrik Lundqvist will get a chance to reclaim gold.
In 2006, Lundqvist lifted Sweden to a Gold Medal in Torino.
Statistically speaking, the King was even better in 2010 than he was in 2006, with a .927 save percentage, 1.34 goals-against average and 2 shutouts.
Lundqvist appeared in one World Juniors U18 tournament, two World Juniors tournaments, three IIHF World Championship tournaments and two Olympics. The 2006 Olympics is the only tournament Lundqvist has won the gold medal in.
While the goaltenders behind him are much better than what they have been in years, there's very little that will stop Lundqvist from playing every minute tending goal for Sweden in Sochi.
Ryan Callahan, USA
Ryan Callahan got a taste of what it's like to play against the world's best players in 2010 as a fourth-line player. Expect him to play a much more pivotal role now that he's surpassed expectations and established himself as a top-six player.
Success for the U.S. will hinge on players like Callahan and their ability to use superior skating to their advantage in Olympic-sized rinks.
What Rangers fans will be more concerned with is the Olympic break not having a burnout effect on Captain Cally. Despite coming out hot in Ottawa after the tournament with two goals, he'd only score two more goals and one assist in the remaining 14 games of the season in 2009-10.
Callahan will have to earn his minutes, but it'd be very surprising if he didn't see time on the third line and special teams for Team USA come February.
Mats Zuccarello, Norway
Mats Zuccarello's play in international tournament's in 2010 helped put him on the New York Rangers' radar.
His lone goal in four games in the 2010 Olympics showcased his ability to succeed on a North American-sized rink. All tournament long, he was flying up and down the ice and utilizing hard work to compensate for any disadvantage his small stature may pose. He also tallied two assists in the Olympics, and in the IIHF World Championships later that year, he scored three goals and one assist in six games for Norway.
Zuccarello should be a shoe-in for Norway's squad, as Bleacher Report's Franklin Steele has him on the top line with Patrick Thoresen and Morten Ask.
As the winger's July 31 arbitration date with the Rangers inches closer, it's unclear what the future holds.
To make matters possibly worse, SNYRangers reports that Zuccarello's Olympic bid could be in jeopardy because of an endorsement deal with a Norweigan betting company that rivals a sponsor to Norway sports.
Norway would be making a huge mistake if they let business get in the way of fielding the best team they could.
Zucc will be on the top line for Norway if he's healthy. No endorsement conflict will stop that.
Ryan McDonagh, USA
Brian Rafalski and Ryan Suter were top-pairing anchors for Team USA in 2010. Suter is a lock for the 2010 roster, but Rafalski has long since retired. McDonagh could be the one to fill his shoes.
He may not have the Olympic experience that Rafalski did, but he's well-seasoned when it comes to matching up against some of the best talent in the world every shift.
Racking up time on ice is nothing new to McDonagh either. In 2014, his average time on ice was 24:21, tied for 20th in the league among defensemen with Niklas Kronwall.
The University of Wisconsin product has played in three international tournaments and doesn't have an overly impressive stat line to show for it, but he was a part of the 2007 U18 World Juniors team that won silver after falling to Russia 6-5 in the Gold Medal game.
McDonagh's challenge this year will be to blossom as an offensive player. The Rangers and Team USA are both putting a lot of stock in his ability to do so.
While he'll get a long look to take the top pairing spot alongside Suter, he'll likely be the second-pairing left defenseman.
Derek Stepan, USA
Derek Stepan had a breakout season for the Rangers, and now he'll look to crash the Olympic scene in 2014.
An afterthought before last season, Stepan earned an invite to orientation camp over names like Jason Pominville, Brandon Dubinsky and Lee Stempniak, among others.
Gold-medalist in the 2010 World Juniors, Stepan scored four goals and 10 assists in seven games as captain of Team USA. His game should translate well in the Olympics.
Stepan may start as an extra forward, but his ability to play special teams could lead to playing time. He should be a lock to make the roster regardless.
Marc Staal, Canada
The media may have a dream scenario come true in Sochi, as three of the four Staal brothers are expected to have a legitimate shot at making Team Canada's roster.
Marc Staal only appeared in 21 games last season after a scary eye injury kept him out from March through early May.
It's yet to be seen how Staal will play after his injury. He appeared in one playoff game before resigning himself back to the press box. Last season he told reporters he thought his eye was never going to be the same.
Despite all of that, Staal will battle 16 other defenseman for a chance at Canada's roster.
A defensive defenseman like Staal could be a good guy to have around in the press box, but it's unlikely we'll see him make the team as a starter. Expect him to be Canada's 7th or 8th defenseman at best.
Carl Hagelin, Sweden
Carl Hagelin's only international experience resulted in six games played, zero points in the 2007 World Juniors; however, Sweden did win Silver that year.
It's hard to make an argument for Hagelin to crack the top-nine for Sweden, but he could be a valuable fourth-line player, or at the very least an extra forward.
A spark plug like Hagelin with all that open ice could be fun to watch.
Hagelin could thrive under new Rangers coach Alain Vigneault. He should have a good camp with Sweden in August, too. Hagelin should make it as an extra forward who sees the ice for at least one game.
Oscar Lindberg, Sweden
Barring injuries, it's unlikely Lindberg will make the Rangers roster out of training camp this fall. However, Lindberg's already earned a camp invite from Sweden. He's known for his dominance in the faceoff circle and strong defensive play. He'll challenge forwards like Carl Hagelin, Viktor Stalberg and Marcus Johansson for playing time on the fourth line or a roster spot as an extra forward.
He's a long-shot to make Sweden's roster, but he's got good numbers in international play. He'll get a long look and fall short.
Anton Stralman, Sweden
Anton Stralman's been an unsung hero for the Rangers. He can play both sides on defense and not skip a beat, and he's established himself as a top-four defenseman on a winning team. Not bad for someone who couldn't make the Devils on a tryout-contract in 2010.
Without an invite to Sweden's orientation camp it will be an uphill battle, but this isn't Canada. A few injuries and Stralman could be in position to go to Sochi. What's more is of the thirteen defensemen invited to camp, Erik Karlsson is the only right-handed shot. While Stralman isn't right-handed either, he's spent most of his time in New York playing on the right side. His versatility would be a great asset.
It's a bit of a snub that Stralman didn't get an invite to camp. He's at least done well enough to be more deserving of an invite than Henrik Tallinder. He won't make the roster, but it won't be because he doesn't deserve it.
Dan Girardi, Canada
Analysts like Ray Ferraro at TSN thought not only would Girardi get invited to Canada's camp, but that he'd make the starting lineup.
Canada general manager Steve Yzerman had other plans, and felt there were at least 17 better options.
An undrafted free agent, Girardi has made a name for himself with his gritty style of play and the ability to shut down top offensive players. He's been privileged to have talented defense partners in Marc Staal and Ryan McDonagh for most of his NHL career, too.
Being snubbed from orientation camp doesn't necessarily mean he doesn't have a chance, but given Canada's depth, if he's not on their radar now it will take quite the start to the 2013-14 NHL season to earn a spot.
Should he defy the odds, it would be Girardi's first experience playing for Team Canada.
Girardi's established himself as one of the game's elite shutdown defenseman. There are simply too many of those to go around for Canada. He deserved to be invited to camp, but he will not make Canada's roster.
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