The decisions have been made and now the public knows which NHL players will be representing the United States at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. A roster of 25 of the top Americans in the game today will head into Sochi, Russia, with eyes on winning gold after falling just a goal short of accomplishing that feat in 2010.
The U.S. roster was unveiled in front of a packed house at Michigan Stadium upon the conclusion of the Winter Classic game between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. The players not in attendance were represented by youth hockey players wearing their Olympic jerseys.
Here's a look at who made Team USA.
NOTE: These are not projected lines or pairings, but players are listed by position they are expected to play in Sochi, then in alphabetical order.
|Line||Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Line 1||Dustin Brown||David Backes||Ryan Callahan|
|Line 2||Max Pacioretty||Ryan Kesler||Patrick Kane|
|Line 3||Zach Parise||Joe Pavelski||Phil Kessel|
|Line 4||James van Riemsdyk||Paul Stastny||T.J. Oshie|
|Extra Forwards||Derek Stepan||Blake Wheeler|
|Pairing 1||Cam Fowler||John Carlson|
|Pairing 2||Ryan McDonagh||Justin Faulk|
|Pairing 3||Brooks Orpik||Paul Martin|
|Pairing 4||Ryan Suter||Kevin Shattenkirk|
1. Ryan Miller
2. Jonathan Quick
3. Jimmy Howard
A total of 13 players return from Team USA's 2010 squad that won the silver medal in Vancouver.
Among the NHL teams represented on Team USA's roster, the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Buffalo Sabres, Los Angeles Kings, Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Vancouver Canucks Minnesota Wild, New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets.
Among those not selected for Team USA, Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan, Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. All three played roles on Team USA in 2010 and would appear to still be in the prime years of their career, but all are on the outside looking in. The biggest shock is Ryan, who is a perrenial 30-goal scorer.
Also on the outs were bubble candidates Keith Yandle and Dustin Byfuglien who were among the best producing defensemen in the NHL over the last five years. Perhaps defensive deficiencies were their downfall.
While the U.S. went young on its blue line with guys like Carlson, Faulk, Fowler and Shattenkirk, rookie Seth Jones also was not part of the final roster.
Though some omissions are more shocking than others, this U.S. team certainly is going to be incredibly fast. With the exception of a few players, this team has speed throughout the lineup. It's defensive corps is mobile and filled with guys who move the puck well.
Up front, the U.S. is led by Kane, Kessel and Parise, who should be looked to for a lot of scoring. Pacioretty, van Riemsdyk and Wheeler have also shown an ability to put the puck in the net frequently this year.
In goal, it was really not too much of a surprise to see who made Team USA's final list. Quick based on his playoff performances in recent years was always a favorite to make the team. It could end up being Miller who takes the starter's role, however, as his Olympic experience and competitiveness in a bad situation in Buffalo have made him an attractive option. Meanwhile, Jimmy Howard gets a nod based on the body of work than his half season. The U.S. goaltenging pool has underperformed as a whole, so there's nothing wrong with taking the larger sample.
It's an interesting roster, with a lot of youth, and also a lot of guys that have good NHL and Olympic experience. Team USA won't be as deep as Canada when it comes to Sochi, but as constructed, they should be a lot of fun to watch. Speed throughout the lineup could be the great equalizer in Sochi.