2010 Winter Olympics, Men's Hockey: Five Players That Might Surprise
One of the many great elements of the Olympics is surprise. Teams can surprise you, moments can surprise you, and single performances can surprise you.
Even though the Olympic squads for several countries are composed of NHL stars, there are several players that might catch viewers off guard. Let's face it: Outside of NHL diehards, the common Olympic viewer has no idea who some of these players are.
So outside of the Brodeurs, the Crosbys, the Ovechkins, and the Lundqvists, there are a number of players that might take people by surprise—even some NHL diehards.
Here's a look at five players that might not have as big a role on their respective teams, but might make people turn their heads.
Bobby Ryan, USA
A lot of Team USA's offensive attention might drift towards their top guys, but Bobby Ryan just might lead the team in goals by the time all is said and done.
Ryan, the second overall pick in the 2005 draft, is a professional goal-scorer.
After starting out of the gates slowly in the NHL, Ryan had his breakout party last season for the Ducks. Ryan spent the first part of last season playing in the AHL before Anaheim called him up in November for the remainder of the season.
There was no looking back.
Ryan scored 31 goals in the 64 games he played, just one behind the team's leader, Corey Perry.
This year is no different for Ryan, continuing right where he left off. Ryan is currently leading the Ducks in goals, lighting the red light 28 times.
**Since writing this, Ryan has opened the scoring for Team USA, scoring their first goal in a 3-1 victory over Switzerland.
Marcel Hossa, Slovakia
No. That's not a typo. That says Marcel, not Marian Hossa. Yes, the same Marcel Hossa that appeared to have stone hands during his six years in the NHL.
The pressures of living up to family expectations set by your older brother must be strenuous—not to mention when he is one of the most dynamic goal-scorers in the league.
I think that was the problem for Marcel in the NHL. Everyone expected him to be his brother. After being drafted by Montreal in the first round of the 2000 draft, Marcel had stints with the New York Rangers and Phoenix Coyotes.
Following the 2008 season, Marcel signed on with the KHL, where he has since blossomed.
Maybe it was the relief of the "You're supposed to be Marian" burden on his shoulders, or maybe it's the new surroundings, but whatever the reason, Marcel has developed into what every GM hoped he would eventually be.
After posting 22 goals in his debut in the KHL last season, Hossa has catapulted himself atop the KHL leaderboards.
Not only is Hossa leading Riga Dynamo in goals, but he's leading the entire KHL, with 32 goals through 53 games.
With most of attention going to his brother and the lethal Marian Gaborik, Hossa might just fly under the radars of some teams—especially if they remember him just as the younger brother of Marian that never panned out.
Alexander Radulov, Russia
Ufa Salavat Yulayev
Remember the movie the Bronx Tale? Remember what Sonny said the saddest thing in life was?
That's all I can think of when I see Alexander Radulov. The guy can be one of the most dominant players—when he wants to be.
Radulov, who was suspended by the NHL indefinitely after walking out on his contract with Nashville and bolting to the KHL, might just want to be that player we all know he can be during these Games.
The former first-round pick has been enjoying a nice season in the KHL, where he is currently fifth in the league in points scored.
It might be hard to focus on a guy like Radulov for opposing teams when Russia's top two lines are stacked with unreal talent.
Any time you look across from you and Alex Ovechkin, Pavel Datsyuk, and Alexander Semin form one line while Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Max Afinogenov are right behind them, the players on the third line should be the least of your worries.
That's the exact reason why Radulov might be dangerous. He's a top talent trapped inside of a slacker's body. He might not warrant the attention he deserves, and if that's the case, watch out, because he will burn you. Just like he did when he scored the game-winner to give Russia their second consecutive World Championships title in 2009.
**UPDATE: Since writing this, Radulov scored the second goal for Russia during their 8-2 victory over Latvia.
Jaromir Jagr, Czech Republic
Now, it's hard to say that a first-ballot Hall of Famer, and one of the greatest players to ever play the game of hockey, might catch people off guard.
But Jagr might have been forgotten in some minds since he hasn't played in the NHL the past two seasons.
Since leaving the NHL in 2008, Jagr has settled in nicely with Omsk Avangard of the KHL, the same team he played for during the lockout year.
Jagr is leading his team in goals, assists, and points, naturally. He also ranks inside the top 20 for points in the KHL this season.
After just celebrating his 38th birthday, it might be easy for some teams to look past him and focus on the younger players ahead of him on the depth chart.
Big mistake if that happens.
At any given moment, even at 38-years old, Jagr can simply take over a game. At last year's World Championships, Jagr was tied for 13th in overall scoring, with three goals and six assists in seven games.
Any time you have a guy on the opposite side as you that has 1,599 NHL points, you might want to pay him some attention.
If the Czech Republic is going to make a run at Canada, Russia, and Sweden for a medal, Jagr will play a big role in it.
Jagr and the Czech Republic kick off their tournament Thursday morning against Slovakia, 12:30am EST on CNBC.
That's right: Foppa's back!
Last, but certainly not least, we have Peter Forsberg.
Forsberg, in my eyes, should go down as one of the greatest hockey players to ever play the game. It's a shame what injuries have done to his career. The man is simply unstoppable when he's on the ice.
It seems like it was just yesterday when Forsberg scored that remarkable shootout goal against Canada to give Sweden the 1994 Olympic Gold medal and Forsberg his first of two.
When you look at Forsberg's career, there is nothing the man hasn't done, yet his determination has never been anything but top level.
He's a two-time Olympic champion ('94, '06), won two World Championships ('92, '98), and two Stanley Cups ('96, '01). Not only is he a member of the Triple Gold Club, but he's done everything twice!
Like I said, Forsberg's only downfall, to an otherwise stellar career, has been his injuries. Since departing from the NHL following the 2008 season, Forsberg's injuries have continued to follow him.
Foppa only played in three games for Modo last season, and has only skated in 17 of 48 games this year. His most recent injury, a finger problem, almost halted him from playing in Vancouver.
Most likely playing on the third line during the Games, behind Henrik Sedin and Niklas Backstrom on the depth chart, Forsberg should not be held lightly by the opposition.
Even at 36-years-old, Forsberg is still one of the most fascinating playmakers to ever play the game and should be a major part of Sweden's defending their '06 Gold medal.