2014 USA men’s Olympic hockey team projections

The 2014 winter Olympics in Sochi are upon us, and that means Olympic hockey action. The USA men's team is looking to bounce back after a silver-medal finish in 2010.

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Clay Sohngen

The players who are lock to make the 2014 team

The 2014 Winter Olympics are upon us, taking place in Sochi, Russia. One of the most exciting events in the Winter Olympics every four years is Ice Hockey. With Canada dominating the scene in 2010, crushing the Americans dreams with one shot from Sid the Kid to seal the deal for the Canadian National team, team USA is looking to bounce back and give the Canadians a run for their money in 2014.The roster for the 2014 USA Team has not yet been announced. The team will be decided not only by who was on the team and performed well in 2010, but also which individuals are doing well in the first half of the season this year in the NHL, which gives some of the rookies and newcomers a shot at living the dream.  USA Hockey officially announced that the roster will be revealed at the Winter Classic game, held on New Year’s Day.

Here are my predictions for the 2014 USA Men’s Ice Hockey Team roster:

Forwards:

David Backes (STL)*: (28) David Backes is known for his relentless physical play on the ice, delivering big hits at crucial times for the St. Louis Blue. What Backes can bring to this team is the leadership it needs, him having the experience as being the captain for the St. Louis Blues. David Backes will be an enforcer in Sochi, and is a no brainer pick.

Ryan Callahan (NYR)*: (27) Callahan is seemingly a lock for this team. He led all Americans last year in the NHL with 13 power play goals. Also, being a captain for one of America’s best teams should help him be a leader for this squad. Callahan always comes up clutch when his team needs him, and will do so on this team.

T.J. Oshie (STL): (26) Oshie is coming off a great season with 35 assists. He is a playmaker and will create opportunities for his fellow Americans to score some goals. In the 2011-2012 season, Oshie tallied up 54 total points in 80 games, with 35 helpers.

Jason Pominville (MIN): (31) Pominville was the captain of the Buffalo Sabres during his time there, and is now a vital part of the new and improved Minnesota squad. Pominville has always been a scoring threat, and will be creating opportunities for his teammates as well, and providing leadership to this team.

Zach Parise (MIN)*:  (28) Parise was team USA’s leading scorer in the 2010 Olympics and has been progressing as a player and blossoming into a superstar in the NHL with his new team, the Minnesota Wild. Parise, without a doubt, will be selected to return for the 2014 Olympics.

Derek Stepan (NYR): (23) Stepan would be the youngest player on this team, but deserves a spot. In his rookie season (2010-2011), Stepan accumulated 45 points, and the following year 51. Stepan is a hard working player and should be one of the players that should be sticking around for future Olympic teams.

Phil Kessel (TOR)*:  (25) Kessel has been an elite player and a standout in the NHL, has a deadly shot. Kessel is always up at the top for points and goals at the end of each season, and is a threat on the power play. He could be the key to a successful USA power play unit.

Joe Pavelski (SJ)*: (28) This team could use as many centers as possible, and Pavelski can fill that void, proving to be an elite player in the NHL on the San Jose Sharks. Pavelski has always been a playmaker, and will create more opportunities and scoring chances for this team.

Dustin Brown (LA)*: (28) The 2012 Stanley Cup winning Kings’ captain is looking to return for the 2014 Olympics fresh off one of his best seasons, and can be a potential captain, or vital leader, of the team.

Patrick Kane (CHI)*: (24) Patrick Kane has proven to every hockey fan that he can do it all in the past couple of years. Kane led the Chicago Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup victory last season, and will be looking to add a gold medal to his collection.

Bobby Ryan (OTT)*:  (25) Ryan has scored 30 or more goals in his last four seasons, a great argument for his spot on this team. He has proven to be a productive player, and will produce on this team in 2014.

Defensemen:

Ryan Suter (MIN)*:  (28) Suter is arguably the best defenseman in all of the NHL. He has a very physical style of gameplay, which will come in handy for this team in Russia. Suter is looking to pick up a gold medal to match his father’s, Bob Suter.

Kevin Shattenkirk (STL): (24) Shattenkirk has always found success on the power play, and could be a perfect fit for a line with Jack Johnson for just the situation. He has been a force for the Blues and a recognizable name around the NHL, and should bring a lot to the table in Sochi.

Keith Yandle (PHX): (26) Yandle is a rising star in the NHL out in the Arizona desert with the Coyotes. Yandle arguably should’ve made the 2010 team, and will now get his chance to be a star on the team.

James Wisinewski (CBJ): (29) It’s never easy being a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, but for the games that Wisinewski has actually played, he has accumulated an exceptional amount of points as a defender.

Jack Johnson (CBJ)*: (26) Jack Johnson is great on the power play, and will be a lethal weapon on this USA team. Johnson has a deadly shot and creates opportunities for his wingers from the blue line.

Dustin Byfuglien (WPG): (27) Dustin will be the biggest player for the Americans at 6-foot-5 and 265 lbs., something the team could really use. Byfuglien is known for his versatile play, and could help out in the forward position if need be.

Brooks Orpik (PIT)*: (32) The hard-hitting Brooks Orpik of the Penguins surely will add some physicality to the team, and will undoubtedly play the body and lay some people out. He will also be one of the veterans on this team who will be a true leader on and off the ice.

Goaltenders:

Jonathan Quick (LA)*: (27) Quick is a Stanley Cup champion and also a Conn Smythe award winner. Quick always seems to keep his composure under pressure, and has ice in his veins. Quick will inevitable rise to the challenge of facing what the rest of the world brings to the table in Sochi.

Ryan Miller (BUF)*: (32) Miller is aging, but that does not stop him from making another appearance in these Olympic games. Without Miller, there would not have been a silver medal for the boys in red, white, and blue last year, and he is looking for redemption in that gold medal.

Cory Schneider (NJ): (27) Schneider lived in the shadow of Roberto Luongo for five seasons in Vancouver, and finally got his own gig in New Jersey. Schneider has had above a .925% save percentage his last five years.  Schneider will not start, but should be along for the ride.

 (*) On 2010 USA Team

Olympic action is just around the corner in Sochi in 2014. This team will be shaping up to be very experienced and physical. After a heartbreaking loss in overtime to a Sidney Crosby top shelf wrister, Americans are looking for revenge against our Canadian neighbors, and are seeking the gold medal.