Predicting Which Los Angeles Kings Will Play in the 2014 Winter Olympics
Given the Los Angeles Kings are among the favorites to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2014 and it's an Olympic year, there is a chance a L.A. player (or two, or three) could win both titles.
Seven players from the Kings were invited to Olympic training camps this summer, while another player is all but assured a spot on his team's roster. This slideshow will discuss which Kings will play in the Olympics and why others may come up short of their goal.
A few are locks to make their nation's team, some are on the fence and one is a long shot. Right now it appears there will be at least as many L.A. players at the 2014 Sochi Olympics as there were at Vancouver in 2010.
With that said, here's a look at which Kings will be heading to Russia come February.
Stats courtesy of NHL.com.
With Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger out of the mix, there should be no doubt that Doughty will make his second Olympic appearance. Doughty was the youngest player on Canada's roster in 2010 and should play a bigger role this time around.
Shea Weber and Duncan Keith appear to be the other locks on the blue line and Doughty should see time on the top pairing with one of the two. At 6'1", 208 pounds, Doughty has the size, strength, speed and offensive ability to be a highly effective defenseman on international ice.
Mike Richards was one of the last forwards to make the 2010 Olympic team and he went on to be one of Canada's best all-around forwards besides Jonathan Toews. However, Richards is far from guaranteed to make this squad.
Canada has a seemingly endless pool of potential centers, including Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Joe Thornton and the Staal brothers, just to name a few. Richards would likely play wing were he to make the team, something he's been comfortable with in the past.
But with so many skilled, speedy youngsters there may only be room for either Richards or Jeff Carter, as was the case in 2010.
Carter just missed out on making the 2010 team and was at the top of the replacement list.
After scoring 26 goals in 48 games last season, Carter made his case for the Olympic team as an elite sniper. He is a great skater with a rapid release and at 6'4", 212 pounds, he offers great size and strength, although he doesn't usually play a physical game.
So, Richards or Carter?
When Team Canada's management makes its final selections look for Richards to get the nod over Carter because of his penalty-killing ability and relentless style of five-on-five play.
Jonathan Quick isn't a slam dunk as the team's starting goaltender, but he will certainly be on the roster. His main competition will come from 2010 starter Ryan Miller and Martin Brodeur's backup, Cory Schneider. That said, also be on the lookout for Detroit's Jimmy Howard and Ottawa's Craig Anderson, who could work their way into the conversation.
Quick's struggles in the lockout-shortened season were well-documented, but when it came to the playoffs he was back to performing at an all-world level. He is quick in the crease, has great positioning and solid rebound control.
If Quick plays like he did during L.A.'s 2012 Stanley Cup run, Team USA should find itself back in the Gold Medal game.
As an alternate captain for Team USA in 2010, Brown was one of the team's leaders, a role he should retain in 2014. Brown is one of the best American power forwards in the NHL today. He uses a mix of grit, physicality and skill to play tough, two-way hockey.
He has shown he is capable of playing in any situation, which is likely one of the reasons why the Kings signed him to an eight-year, $47 million contract in the offseason.
Brown will be crucial to the U.S. attack, along with Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Phil Kessel. These four will need to produce early and often in Sochi if the Americans are going to avenge their devastating overtime loss to Canada in 2010.
Lewis' chances of making the American squad are very slim. Unless he has an absolutley spectacular start to the 2013-14 NHL season, he will likely be passed over in favor of some other young players.
The 26-year-old has good size, strength and plays well at both ends of the rink. However, he lacks the offensive firepower that many of the other forwards vying for spots on the team have.
The U.S. has 10 forwards from the 2010 team who should be back in 2014 and James van Riemsdyk, Brandon Saad, Justin Abdelkader, Kyle Okposo and Blake Wheeler are just a few of the players who could fill out the rest of the roster.
Voynov is just 23 years old, but the native of Chelyabinsk should be a member of the Russian team that will try to capture gold on home ice.
Drafted 32nd overall in 2008 by the Kings, Voynov has made great strides in the last couple years to improve his skating and defensive abilities. Standing 6'0" and weighing 194 pounds, Voynov has great puck-moving skills and good offensive instincts.
He notched six goals and 19 assists for 25 points in 48 games last season. He was a key contributor in the postseason, finishing with 13 points in 18 games. Voynov also has plenty of international experience, having helped Russia medal in two Under-18 Championships and three consecutive World Juniors.
Look for Voynov to play on the second or third defensive pairing and to see plenty of ice time on the power play.
This is by far the easiest prediction to make.
Anze Kopitar is guaranteed to play in the Olympics as a member of Team Slovenia. It's the first time in history that the country will compete in Olympic men's hockey and the name Kopitar is of vital importance.
Anze is by far the team's best player. His brother Gasper is also on the team and the duo should play together on the first line. On top of that, their father Matjas Kopitar is the head coach.
Anze Kopitar is an elite NHL forward who uses a combination of size and skill to dominate on offense. The 26-year-old has led the Kings in scoring in each of the last six seasons, which is a remarkable feat. He will lead Slovenia into battle come February, but the team isn't expected to make much of a dent in the tournment.
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