Ranking the 10 Best Goal Scorers in the Winter Olympic Hockey Tournament

Steve Macfarlane@@MacfarlaneHKYFeatured ColumnistFebruary 1, 2014

Ranking the 10 Best Goal Scorers in the Winter Olympic Hockey Tournament

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Winter Olympic Hockey tournament features the world's best players—well, except for the Czech Republic, which decided they'd rather trot Petr Nedved out for another spin—and that means goals should come in bucketloads.

    Even though there are some spectacular goaltenders who will take the international stage when the Sochi Games kick off this month, people will be tuning in to see the goals scored against them.

    There is no shortage of NHL (and KHL) superstars taking part. We break down which players to watch when it comes to lighting the lamp in Russia.

10. Sidney Crosby (Canada)

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    Chris O'Meara/Associated Press

    What Makes Him Dangerous: The Pittsburgh Penguins star is hands-down the best overall player on Earth. And when you surround him with the kind of talent the Canadian team is blessed with at the Sochi Games, he's bound to do some serious damage.

    Crosby could be teamed up with Rick Nash, or Steven Stamkos, and Pens teammate Chris Kunitz—and playing with a couple of heavy shooters on his flanks could take away from the center's own goal total. But he's bound to get a few juicy rebounds because of his tireless work in front of the net. He could lead the tournament in scoring.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Three or four. The Canadians will probably play six or seven games, and while he won't put in one for every contest, Sid the Kid will be up there among the top 10 snipers. He put up four goals—including the gold-medal winner—and seven points in seven games at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver.

9. James van Riemsdyk (U.S.)

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    What Makes Him Dangerous: The fact he's playing with Toronto Maple Leafs linemate Phil Kessel doesn't hurt. Van Riemsdyk has career highs in goals (22) and points (43) this season while playing almost every minute alongside Kessel. The 24-year-old is poised for a big breakout on the international stage in his Olympic debut.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Four. There's a possibility he could score more, or even lead the tournament if the U.S. gets to the gold-medal game. A bit of a dark-horse pick, but he's just entering his prime as a power forward who has the wheels to thrive on the big ice surface.

8. Daniel Alfredsson (Sweden)

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    Bruce Bennett/Associated Press

    What Makes Him Dangerous: The 41-year-old Swede is surrounded by talent on a roster many are picking to win gold for the second time in three Olympic tournaments. Alfredsson has seven goals in his last eight Olympic games and seems rejuvenated with the NHL's Detroit Red Wings this season after spending the rest of his long career with the Ottawa Senators.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Three or four. Alfredsson wasn't even invited to the information session in the offseason, indicating he wasn't likely to be named to the team. But he's healthy and motivated and is always an on-ice leader by example.

7. Marian Hossa (Slovakia)

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    What Makes Him Dangerous: The Chicago Blackhawks winger is the definition of responsible and opportunistic. He'll help shut down the opposition's best scoring threats and then turn their mistakes against them in a hurry. Hossa could be on a line with Hawks teammate Michal Handzus and his brother Marcel Hossa, who's having a nice season in the KHL.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Four. Hossa helped the Slovakian squad become the surprise team of the 2010 Games in Vancouver. They earned a fourth-place finish thanks to his four goals and seven points in seven games. You can expect a similar performance from Hossa, but maybe not the Slovaks as a team.

6. Corey Perry (Canada)

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    What Makes Him Dangerous: He made his Olympic debut in 2010 and scored four times in seven games, including Canada's second goal in the gold-medal game against the Americans. He isn't the most impressive skater, but he's far from slow. And he has a knack for finding open ice in prime scoring position, especially when Anaheim Ducks teammate Ryan Getzlaf is feeding him the puck—which you can count on in Sochi.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Four or five. There's a chance the larger ice surface will affect him in the first couple of games, but it's unlikely Perry will be kept off the scoresheet for long, and he has the tendency to score in bunches.

5. Zach Parise (U.S.)

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    Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

    What Makes Him Dangerous: Generously listed at 5'11", Parise's greatest quality outside of his quick release is his determination. He helped get the Americans into overtime against Team Canada with a rebound goal in the last 30 seconds in the gold-medal game in 2010, but hopes for more this time around.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Five. In six games at the Vancouver Olympics, Parise scored four times and added four more assists. If the U.S. is going to get back to the big game, Parise—the U.S. captain—is going to be the one to lead them.

4. Rick Nash (Canada)

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    Julie Jacobson/Associated Press

    What Makes Him Dangerous: The New York Rangers star is deceptively fast and agile for a big man. His international resume speaks for itself. He has posted more than a point per game on all ice surfaces—including the international size.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Five. Nash is holding a hot stick and hopes to carry that over to Russia.

3. Alex Ovechkin (Russia)

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    What Makes Him Dangerous: His lightning-quick release. His powerful slap shot. His shifty feet. Ovechkin does it all when he's on top of his game, and the Washington Capitals star is seeking 60 goals in the NHL this season, eclipsing the rest of the field in the Rocket Richard race.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Five or six. There may be no more motivated player in the Olympics than Ovechkin, who wants to give Russia gold on home ice the way Canada did in 2010.

2. Alex Steen (Sweden)

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    What Makes Him Dangerous: He has risen to elite goal-scoring status in the NHL, trailing less than a handful of his colleagues despite missing nearly a month with a concussion. He's made the St. Louis Blues' top line a threat to score on every shift. Imagine what he can do with a team full of stars.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Five or six. The Swedes will score as much as any team despite some tough goaltenders in the tournament, but Steen will earn every one of his.

1. Ilya Kovalchuk (Russia)

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    What Makes Him Dangerous: He's somewhat forgotten because he abandoned the NHL to play closer to home in the KHL, but people will quickly remember why he was such a pleasure to watch in North America once the Olympics begin. He has a rare combination of speed and power, and his wicked shot gives goaltenders nightmares.

    How Many Goals He Will Score: Six. Kovalchuk is having a great year in the KHL, and the New Jersey Devils sure miss his goal scoring despite a decent effort from the ageless Jaromir Jagr.