2014 US Olympic Hockey Team Roster: Predicting Stars for Sochi

Alex EspinozaCorrespondent IIIJanuary 1, 2014

ANN ARBOR, MI - JANUARY 01:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs walks back to the ice surface after being selected to the U.S. Men's Nation Team for the 2014 Sochi Olympics after the 2014 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on January 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The Maple Leafs defeated the Red Wings 3-2 in shootout overtime.  (Photo by Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Following a 3-2 Toronto Maples Leafs shootout win over the Detroit Red Wings in the 2014 Bridgestone Winter Classic on Wednesday, select members of the United States men's hockey team were introduced to the Big House crowd at Michigan Stadium.

An unproven USA team claimed the silver medal at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, with the 2014 Sochi roster featuring 13 returning players along with more young talent. The Americans have been placed in Group A along with Slovakia, Russia and Slovenia and will open against Slovakia on Feb. 13.

With the Olympics just a few weeks away, the United States is considered one of the favorites behind Russia, Canada and Sweden. Here's an entire look at the roster, followed by predictions for three stars who will shine on the Olympic stage in Sochi.

2014 US Olympic Hockey Team Roster
PlayerPositionDOBNHL Team
Jimmy HowardG03/26/84Detroit Red Wings
Ryan MillerG07/17/80Buffalo Sabres
Jonathan QuickG01/21/86Los Angeles Kings
John CarlsonD01/10/90Washington Capitals
Justin FaulkD03/20/92Carolina Hurricanes
Cam FowlerD03/05/91Anaheim Ducks
Paul MartinD03/05/81Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan McDonaghD06/13/89New York Rangers
Brooks OrpikD09/26/80Pittsburgh Penguins
Kevin ShattenkirkD01/29/89St. Louis Blues
Ryan SuterD01/21/85Minnesota Wild
David BackesF05/01/84St. Louis Blues
Dustin BrownF11/04/84Los Angeles Kings
Ryan CallahanF03/21/85New York Rangers
Patrick KaneF11/19/88Chicago Blackhawks
Ryan KeslerF08/31/84Vancouver Canucks
Phil KesselF10/02/87Toronto Maple Leafs
T.J. OshieF12/23/86St. Louis Blues
Max PaciorettyF11/20/88Montreal Canadiens
Zach PariseF07/28/84Minnesota Wild
Joe PavelskiF07/11/84San Jose Sharks
Paul StastnyF12/27/85Colorado Avalanche
Derek StepanF06/18/90New York Rangers
James van RiemsdykF05/04/89Toronto Maple Leafs
Blake WheelerF08/31/86Winnipeg Jets
USAHockey.com

 

Patrick Kane, F

Whether he's scoring goals of his own or setting his teammates up with slick passing, Kane is America's most explosive offensive option on the ice heading into Sochi. For Steve Rosenbloom of the Chicago Tribune, Kane has elevated his status to even greater heights this year, citing his improvement as a defensive player:

In his seventh season with the Chicago Blackhawks, the 25-year-old winger ranks second among NHL points leaders with 53, six off the pace of Sidney Crosby, while he also ranks third in the league with 23 goals scored.

You could argue that Kane has become the face of American hockey. After playing a big role in the 2010 run that ended with a loss to Canada in the gold-medal game, Kane said he's looking forward to representing the United States once again.

“It was amazing to see people in the crowd after Canada won, crying and hugging each other, taking it all in. You look back, obviously wish you could’ve won gold, but it was still an amazing experience,” Kane said, via CSN Chicago's Tracey Myers. “It was great for the sport and the game. To be part of that game was awesome.”

 

Ryan Suter, D

 

There's no question who will anchor the USA defense with Ryan Suter on the roster.

He has been one of the NHL's best blueliners this year, leading the league with an average ice time of 29 minutes, 42 seconds per game. As Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune noted, Suter is also seasoned in international competition:

Suter's experience and reliability will be huge for a defensive unit that stands as the biggest question mark on a talented American squad. The nine-year NHL vet and current member of the Minnesota Wild will also be joined by his teammate Zach Parise on the national side:

Parise is just part of what's expected to be a very potent American attack, but Suter's role will be magnified against the world's top scorers. Suter is expected to be paired with Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Paul Martin on the first line.

 

Ryan Kesler, F

A 67-year-old Canadian man received quite the text message recently, one that was intended for Vancouver Canucks forward Ryan Kesler. Gord Miller of TSN shared the humorous story, which involves the U.S. men's Olympic hockey team:

Funny anecdotes aside, Kesler's addition to the team gives the United States one of hockey's premier two-way players, according to Scott Burnside of ESPN.com:

In our estimation, Kesler is the single-most important forward for the American squad. He will occupy one of the top two center positions. At his best, he's one of the world's best two-way players, and Kane has been very good for the past couple of months. Look for him to get a look playing with Kane.

The center has recovered nicely from wrist, hip and shoulder surgeries to lead the Canucks with an average ice time of 22 minutes, 6 seconds. In all, he has 15 goals and 27 points in 41 contests for Vancouver this year.