USA Olympic Hockey Team 2014: Stock Watch for Every Player Ahead of Sochi

Allan Mitchell@@Lowetide_Featured ColumnistFebruary 3, 2014

USA Olympic Hockey Team 2014: Stock Watch for Every Player Ahead of Sochi

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    USA Hockey returns nine forwards, two defensemen and two goalies from the 2010 USA Olympic hockey team for Sochi in 2014. It's a veteran group with tremendous skill and impressive two-way ability.

    The American team is built to face the Canadians, with goaltending, speed and skill at the forefront. The U.S. will also need to be aware of the Russians, who are also skilled and will be very tough on their home soil.

    There are 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goalies named to the USA team. Here's how they're doing as they get closer to the Sochi Olympics. 

1. Jimmy Howard, G, Detroit Red Wings

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    Last 10 Games: 5 GP (2-2-1), 3.20 GAA, .907 SV%

    Key Indicators: He is the only new goalie for Team USA at this year's Olympics. The Red Wings starter is 25th in save percentage. Howard has been playing in front of an inconsistent Detroit team this year.

    Stock: His stock is falling. Howard probably goes into the Olympics as the No. 3 goalie on the depth chart, and his recent play hasn't been stellar. A return to form during the three games this week is vital. 

2. Ryan Miller, G, Buffalo Sabres

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    Last 10 Games: 7 GP (2-3-2), 3.11 GAA, .910 SV%

    Key Indicators: He was a top story for Team USA at the 2010 Olympics and could easily play the same role again. Miller ranks inside the top 30 in even-strength save percentage among goalies with 800 or more saves. 

    Stock: Miller's stock remains the same. His status as the American starting goalie is not certain, but his reputation may get him the first opportunity. The veteran may not give anyone else a chance if he is named starter. 

3. Jonathan Quick, G, Los Angeles Kings

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    Last 10 Games: 9 GP (2-6-1), 2.16 GAA, .910 SV%

    Key Indicators: Quick enters the Olympics as a strong option for No. 1 goalie for Team USA. He ranks among the league's 30 best goalies in save percentage. 

    Stock: His stock is rising. Quick's status as an elite goalie took an early shot when he struggled in October and then missed time to injury. Since returning, he's been very good and could be the starter in Sochi. 

4. John Carlson, D, Washington Capitals

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 7 PTS, -3 +/-

    Key Indicators: He can play a wide range of roles for Team USA. Carlson ranks among the league's top 10 defensemen in goals and is top-five in shots on net among blueliners. 

    Stock: Carlson's stock is rising. He is a unique player, capable of playing a shutdown and offensive role. Carlson will probably used as a defender first based on the makeup of the Olympic team. 

5. Justin Faulk, D, Carolina Hurricanes

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS, +1 +/-

    Key Indicators: He is young enough (21 years old) to play on several future Olympic teams if the NHL chooses to attend them. Faulk plays a lot of tough minutes for Carolina every night. 

    Stock: Faulk's stock is rising. He's a fantastic skater and will no doubt flourish on the big Olympic ice in Sochi. His youth may limit him to a complementary role.

6. Cam Fowler, D, Anaheim Ducks

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, -2 +/-

    Key Indicators: He's improved a great deal this season. Fowler says one of the main reasons for the step forward is changing over to his more natural left side on defense.

    Stock: Fowler's stock is rising. A mobile defenseman with natural offensive instincts, his improvement defensively makes him a possible impact player at Sochi.

7. Paul Martin, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Last 10 Games: 7 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT, -3 +/-

    Key Indicators: He's been hurt this season and has struggled at times. However, Martin remains the Penguins' leader in even-strength time on ice in 2013-14 (as he was last season). 

    Stock: Martin's stock is down. He's a valued veteran but has missed playing time to injury. In the time since his return, Martin hasn't been himself. A strong run to the Olympic break might elevate his status.

8. Ryan McDonagh, D, New York Rangers

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 1 G, 4 A, 5 PTS, +5 +/-

    Key Indicators: He's scoring more points in the last few weeks, but that isn't the big part of his game. McDonagh is an even-strength and penalty-killing force for the Rangers. 

    Stock: McDonagh's stock is rising. He's a 24-minute-a-night defenseman who is effective in a shutdown role. Team USA will use him heavily during the important games in Sochi.

9. Brooks Orpik, D, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT, 0 +/-

    Key Indicators: He's a mobile stay-at-home defender who can play it tough. Orpik may not be ideally suited for the big ice, but he'll be valuable as a penalty-killer and shutdown defender. 

    Stock: His stock is rising. Orpik missed much of December with a concussion but has played well in recent weeks. Team USA will rely on his experience.

10. Kevin Shattenkirk, D, St. Louis Blues

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 PTS, -3 +/-

    Key Indicators: Shattenkirk is among the league leaders for power-play points by a defenseman in the NHL this season. His ability to move the puck quickly should make him an effective regular for Team USA.

    Stock: His value is rising sharply. Shattenkirk could end up being a feature player on the power play. His transition game should fit well on the big ice in Sochi.

11. Ryan Suter, D, Minnesota Wild

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS, +3 +/-

    Key Indicators: He's a workhorse every night for Minnesota. Suter leads all NHL skaters in time on ice this season and is a tireless worker. Suter was named alternate captain for Team USA at the Olympics.

    Stock: Team USA will use Suter in all situations at the Olympics. His incredible stamina will be put to the test as the American team attempts to win the gold medal in Russia.

12. David Backes, C, St. Louis Blues

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 PTS, -1 +/-

    Key Indicator: He is the best shutdown forward on the team, and his impressive offense (41 points in 49 games this season) confirms his status as a complete player.

    Stock: Backes' stock is up. He might be the most valuable forward on Team USA. He'll be relied on to play the toughest opponents and outscore them in the biggest games in Sochi.

13. Dustin Brown, RW, Los Angeles Kings

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, -6 +/-

    Key Indicator: Brown is on pace for a worse offensive year than he posted during the shortened 2012-13 season. The most recent 10-game stretch is cause for alarm.

    Stock: Brown's stock is down markedly. His reputation as a winger who plays on a skill line to provide truculence may no longer apply. He's well off his career average and should play on a checking line in Sochi. In sharp contrast with the numbers, Brown was named alternate captain for Team USA this week.

14. Ryan Callahan, C, New York Rangers

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 1 G, 3 A, 4 PTS, +1 +/-

    Key Indicator: His offensive output is off slightly, but his wide range of skills allowed him to make this team. Trade rumors are swirling in New York, but it won't impact Callahan's performance.

    Stock: Callahan's stock remains the same. He is a quality two-way center who plays aggressively in all areas. A natural leader, he'll do a lot of the heavy work in Sochi for Team USA. 

15. Patrick Kane, RW, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 PTS, 0 +/-

    Key Indicator: He is one of the NHL's best skill players and is on pace for close to 90 points this season. Kane also gives Team USA its swagger, as his confidence and ability is obvious every shift.

    Stock: His stock is rising. Kane is the feature player for Team USA. His outstanding skill and versatility will be relied on at the Olympics. It's likely Kane will play the wing, but don't discount the possibility that he moves to center. If the Americans win at Sochi, Kane will be a big reason.

16. Ryan Kesler, C, Vancouver Canucks

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 PTS, -3 +/-

    Key Indicator: Kesler has played in all of Vancouver's games, meaning he's healthy and playing a physical game. He is also having a good season winning faceoffs, which will be a key element for him at the Olympics. 

    Stock: Kesler's stock is rising. At 29 years old, he'll be one of the leaders of Team USA in Sochi. His arrival at the Games healthy is a major positive. 

17. Phil Kessel, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 9 G, 10 A, 19 PTS, +2 +/-

    Key Indicator: More than any other forward for Team USA, Kessel's scoring ability is at an elite level. He is on pace for 40 goals this season.

    Stock: His stock is up. Team USA is going to need goals, and Kessel is the ultimate first-shot scorer for the Americans. He'll receive heavy playing time on the power play and late in important games. Kessel's chemistry with James van Riemsdyk may be a key for Team USA.

18. TJ Oshie, RW, St. Louis Blues

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 4 G, 2 A, 6 PTS, 0 +/- 

    Key Indicator: Oshie is having a very good campaign, and this is the most consistent season of his career. He can do so many things to help a team win even if he's not scoring.

    Stock: His stock is rising. Oshie was something of a surprise selection for the team. Considering his range of skills and the fact that he's physical and tough to play against, he'll be a welcomed member of the Olympic team. 

19. Max Pacioretty, LW, Montreal Canadiens

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 4 G, 2 A, 6 PTS, -5 +/-

    Key Indicator: Despite the current period of average production, Pacioretty is on pace for more than 35 goals this season. His emergence is one reason for the outstanding depth on Team USA.

    Stock: His stock is up. He is a goal scorer and a power-play sniper, and Pacioretty will be front and center for Team USA at the Olympics in Sochi.

20. Zach Parise, LW, Minnesota Wild

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    Last 10 Games: 5 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, +2 +/- 

    Key Indicator: Parise's games leading up to the Olympic break will dictate how Team USA uses him in Sochi. He missed 14 games due to a foot injury, which originally made him a question mark, but his performance since returning have been exceptional. 

    Stock: Parise's stock is rising. Team USA badly needed him to come back from injury and show well. Thus far, he has delivered. He was named captain of the Olympic team this week. 


21. Joe Pavelski, C, San Jose Sharks

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 8 G, 3 A, 11 PTS, +5 +/-

    Key Indicator: He is on fire this season and is on pace for more than 40 goals. He has delivered solid two-way play during this time of elite-level scoring.

    Stock: Pavelski's stock is up. He is enjoying a career year and is very versatile. Team USA has a lot of weapons, but Pavelski can move around to different situations and thrive.

22. Paul Stastny, C, Colorado Avalanche

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    Last 10 Games: 7 GP, 3 G, 3 A, 6 PTS, -1 +/-

    Key Indicator: Stastny is having a quality rebound season after struggling in 2012-13. He missed a couple of games due to a knee injury but has been effective. His offensive numbers are up, and he should play a key role at the Olympics. 

    Stock: Stastny's stock is rising. He will likely center two of the four best wingers available and could slide between James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel on a high-end skill line for Team USA.

23. Derek Stepan, C, New York Rangers

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 3 G, 5 A, 8 PTS, +7 +/-

    Key Indicator: Stepan's scoring rates are down from last season, and that's a concern. A lot of his value comes from offense, so if he's not firing on all cylinders, he may not play much in Sochi. His most recent 10-game sample shows he's recovering from an early-season slump.

    Stock: Stepan's stock is rising. His presence on the American roster came from a strong 2012-13 season, and there was some concern earlier in the year about him. Stepan's recent hot streak is encouraging. 

24. James van Riemsdyk, LW, Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 5 G, 6 A, 11 PTS, +2 +/-

    Key Indicator: He's already reached his career high in points and appears to be heading into impact-player levels of performance. He is on pace for a 30-goal season

    Stock: Van Riemsdyk's stock is rising. Due to the short preparation time available to the Olympic team, he may end up on one of the skill lines with fellow Maple Leaf Phil Kessel. He is primed to be a major story at the Sochi Olympics. 

25. Blake Wheeler, RW, Winnipeg Jets

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    Last 10 Games: 10 GP, 6 G, 6 A, 12 PTS, +10 +/-  

    Key Indicator: Wheeler is having an outstanding season, and just passed the 20-goal mark. Team USA is hoping he can keep this hot streak going through the Olympics. 

    Stock: His stock is rising. Wheeler will play even if he cools off, but if his scoring touch remains, expect him to play big minutes for Team USA in Sochi.