Predicting 22 Members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Tab BamfordSenior Writer INovember 4, 2011

Predicting 22 Members of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

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    While the NHL still hasn't given a firm commitment to playing in the 2014 Winter Olympics, the process of putting together a roster isn't too far away. In 2010, a roster filled with NHL talent came up just short in an epic gold medal game against Canada.

    If the US wants to improve on that performance, it needs to start putting a team together sooner than later.

    What follows is a list of 22 players (seven defensemen, two goalies and 13 forwards) who could represent the United States in the 2014 Games. Some of these players have been to the Olympics before. Others haven't played two full seasons in the NHL.

    But in total, they represent the best talent the United States will be able to put on the ice when they make another run at the gold.

D-1: Ryan Suter

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    Age in 2014: 29

    The best active US-born defenseman, Suter will have a lot of questions in his NHL career answered between now and 2014. One question he shouldn't have to ask, however, is if his services are needed in the Winter Olympics.

    He's a stud and will be wearing the red, white and blue again.

D-2: Jack Johnson

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    Age in 2014: 28

    Johnson was one of the stars for the US in the 2010 games, and will still be in his prime for the Kings when the 2014 Games come around.

    He'll be skating top-four minutes for his country.

D-3: Kevin Shattenkirk

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    Age in 2014: 25

    Another good, young, puck-moving defenseman, Shattenkirk gets the puck to the opposite end of the ice quickly.

    On international ice and in games that turn into track meets, he's the kind of guy coaches need on the roster.

D-4: Nick Leddy

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    Age in 2014: 23

    Please read this statement carefully, because I'm not saying Leddy's going to win a Norris Trophy in the next three years: Leddy could be for the United States what Drew Doughty was for Canada in 2010.

    In his first full season in the NHL this year, he's skating top-three minutes in Chicago and has eight points in 12 games. He flies up and down the ice and makes good decisions with the puck.

    Leddy's a dark horse for a primetime role on the US roster in 2014.

D-5: Jonathan Blum

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    Age in 2014: 25

    A good shot-blocker who will, one way or another, be playing with one of the better defensemen in the league in Nashville (depending on whether that happens between Suter and Shea Weber), his game will continue to develop and he could push for top-four minutes in 2014.

D-6: Jake Gardiner

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    Age in 2014: 24

    One of the best young defensemen coming into the NHL, Gardiner has two NHL seasons to prepare for primetime in 2014. If he continues to impress as much as he has early this year, though, he'll give opponents fits in the tournament.

D-7: Erik Johnson

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    Age in 2014: 26

    Johnson, the former top overall draft pick, would likely find his way onto the US roster to add size with some puck-moving defensemen getting more ice time. There could be some kids who push Johnson for this roster spot, though.

G-1: Jonathan Quick

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    Age in 2014: 28

    Quick is starting to come into his own in Los Angeles this year, and his confidence should only continue to increase. Playing behind a familiar face in Jack Johnson, the communication should be clear and Quick will likely give the US its best option at a medal.

G-2: Ryan Miller

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    Age in 2014: 34

    Just as Tim Thomas was the elder statesman as the backup goalie in 2010, Miller will likely be watching much of the action from the pine in 2014. But his experience, leadership and clutch ability will be hard to keep off the roster.

F-1: Patrick Kane

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    Age in 2014: 26

    Kane could ultimately become a wild card for the United States. He's a point-per-game forward with some of the best hands on the planet, but now that he's playing center in Chicago, the trickle down throughout the forward rotation for the US could be incredible.

    His versatility heading into 2014 will be a big part of that roster.

F-2: Ryan Kesler

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    Age in 2014: 30

    He's the best US-born center, and was dominant in the 2010 Games. He might be on the top line for the US, but his ability to be a shutdown center could push him into a checking role.

    How the coaches use Kane and other forwards will likely play as much of a part in Kesler's role as his versatility will present options to the coaches.

F-3: Bobby Ryan

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    Age in 2014: 27

    Ryan is a big, physical scorer who could skate anywhere in the USA's top nine and would still be effective.

F-4: Zach Parise

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    Age in 2014: 30

    Parise is coming back from his injury well this year and is one of the most lethal US-born scorers who will be available to coaches in 2014. He'll be there, and he'll be skating top-six minutes and in crunch time.

F-5: Phil Kessel

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    Age in 2014: 27

    If he keeps scoring at the pace he's started in the 2011-12 campaign, he'll be one of the most dangerous forwards in the tournament in 2014. His speed will give opponents fits, and his ability to skate at center or wing is also useful.

F-6: Joe Pavelski

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    Age in 2014: 30

    Pavelski established himself as a bona fide top-six forward in 2010 between the Olympics and San Jose, and should only continue to develop. He would, shockingly, be one of the oldest players on the US roster.

F-7: Paul Stastny

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    Age in 2014: 29

    An experienced scorer who was on the 2010 roster, Stastny has been solid in international events (11 points in 13 games between the last Olympics and Worlds).

F-8: James VanRiemsdyk

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    Age in 2014: 25

    An up-and-coming forward who wasn't on the 2010 roster, van Riemsdyk is a big, young winger still coming into his own in the NHL. With two more full seasons to develop before the 2014 Olympics, he could be a key up front for the US.

F-9: Dustin Brown

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    Age in 2014: 30

    "Captain America" had an "A" on his sweater in 2010 for a reason, and he is in line to have one again in 2014. He does all of the little things well and accepts whatever role he's put in by the coaching staff.

F-10: Drew Stafford

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    Age in 2014: 29

    With 97 career NHL goals (through Nov. 3), Stafford is a legit scorer who also brings some size to the ice. As a bottom-six forward, he could present matchup problems for other countries.

F-11: David Backes

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    Age in 2014: 30

    Backes is the captain of the Blues who's an imposing physical player. He's also an underrated offensive threat, with two 31-goal seasons on his resume.

F-12: Ryan Callahan

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    Age in 2014: 29

    Callahan is an NHL captain and was a key member of the 2010 silver medal team. Olympic teams are usually filled with leaders who can finish, and Callahan is both.

F-13: Brandon Dubinsky

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    Age in 2014: 28

    Through Nov. 3, Dubinsky has 71 goals (14 game-winners) in 327 NHL games. At 6'1" and 210 pounds, he's an ideal swing forward who can finish. He'll have to fight to get onto the roster, but he'll have a chance to be there.