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Friday, February 19, 2010

The Olympic's Forgotten: Olympic National "2nd" Teams



Brian Burke, the GM of Team USA was recently quoted as saying that Team Canada could be competitive in the Olympics if they sent their second team, or their second twenty. This got me thinking about the relative depth of each team and how much talent each country left at home during the Olympics. Only the U.S. and Canada are full of NHLers, but there are some NHL Players from Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia, and Sweden that are all watching these games just as you and I are. So, what would Canada’s second twenty look like? What about the U.S.? Who from the other teams is sitting at home watching these games?


Canada’s second twenty:

Jeff Carter (27G, 25A) of Philadelphia was obviously the most publicized omission from this team, as he was the one player who was asked to come to Vancouver in the event that Ryan Getzlaf could not go. The Tampa Bay Lightning could have fielded one line for Canada’s B-Team. Martin St. Louis (22G, 49A) and Vincent LeCavalier (15G, 40A) are veterans for Team Canada who did not get the call this year, and newcomer Steven Stamkos (35G, 35A) is likely to be donning a Maple Leaf on his sleeve at future Olympic games. Brad Richards (17G, 49A) from Dallas staged a serious candidacy for the games in Vancouver as well. Patrick Sharp (19G, 33A) of the Blackhawks has turned into an effective NHLer as well. Shane Doan (17G, 30A), a seasoned veteran has probably done enough to make the B-Team as well. The rest of the forwards would probably be made up newcomers, including Vancouver’s Alexandre Burrows (26G, 25A), New Jersey’s Travis Zajac (19G, 32A), Montreal’s Mike Cammalleri (26G, 22A), Florida’s Stephen Weiss (21G, 27A), and Edmonton’s Dustin Penner (24G, 23A). Add seasoned veteran Ray Whitney (19G, 29A) from Carolina to wear the “C” for Canada’s B-Team and you’ve got some serious goal-scoring potential from Canada’s second team. Interestingly—Paul Statsny who is wearing the Red, White, and Blue but was born in Quebec would have to be a candidate for Canada’s B-team as well.
Sharp - Carter - Doan
Stamkos - LeCavalier - St. Louis
Cammalleri - Richards - Penner
Burrows - Zajac - Whitney

On defense, you would have to consider Mike Green (14G, 46A) from Washington, as one of the leading candidates, although he technically plays left wing. Chicago’s Brian Campbell (6G, 29A) would probably be his counterpart on the powerplay, peppering goalies from the point. The team would likely include Phoenix’s Ed Jovanovski (10G, 19A) and Dallas’s Stephane Robidas (10G, 23A). Add Boston’s Derek Morris (3G, 22A), Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf (10G, 14A), and Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester (2G, 21A) and you’ve got a very respectable set of blueliners. Canada has many other blueliners that would challenge for this team.
Green - Bouwmeester
Phaneuf - Robidas
Jovanovski - Morris

In net, Canada could have the potential of taking a hot hand, like Ottawa’s Brian Elliott (2.59GAA, .910 Sv %) but I think Yzerman would go with the guys that have been doing it longer. Likely candidates would include Dallas’s Marty Turco (2.63GAA, .915Sv %), Carolina’s Cam Ward (2.32GAA, .913Sv%). Nashville’s Dan Ellis (2.59GAA, .913Sv%), St. Louis’s Chris Mason (2.53GAA, .912Sv%), and youngster Carey Price from Montreal (2.81GAA, .911Sv%) would duke it out for the last spot—advantage Ellis, he’s been at it a bit longer than the other guys.
Ward
Turco
Ellis

Overall, Team Canada B is good enough to challenge for a medal and if Ward gets hot like he truly can and Green remembers that he actually has some defensive responsibilities, this team could win it all.

USA’s second twenty:

                The U.S. doesn’t have quite the hockey depth that team Canada does. Yet, there are still some guys that can light the lamp including Buffalo’s Tim Connolly (14G, 41A) and Columbus’s R.J. Umberger  (19G, 23A). Montreal’s Scott Gomez (10G, 32A) has been successful for a long time in the NHL, he would likely play alongside his longtime teammate Brian Gionta (17G, 14A). The rest of the forwards would be filled out by steady NHL second/third liners like the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo (13G, 27A), Carolina’s Matt Cullen (12G, 28A), St. Louis’s T.J. Oshie (13G, 23A), Philadelphia’s James van Riemsdyk (13G, 19A), Nashville’s David Legwand (10G, 22A), Rangers Brandon Dubinsky (13G, 18A), Boston’s Blake Wheeler (13G, 18A), and Anaheim’s Jason Blake (11G, 18A). NHL Veteran and Pittsburgh Penguin Bill Guerin (17G, 21A) would like have the “C” sewn on his sweater.
                Umberger - Connolly - Okposo
                Van Riemsdyk - Gomez - Gionta
                Oshie - Dubinsky - Guerin
                Blake - Cullen - Wheeler

                On the blueline, the team would be anchored by Phoenix’s up-and-comers Keith Yandle (10G, 20A), and Buffalo’s Tyler Myers (8G, 24A). Alex Goligoski (6G, 20A) from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia’s Matt Carle (4G, 22A) would likely pull on a red, white, and blue sweater as well. Washington’s Tom Poti (3G, 18A), Los Angeles’s Rob Scuderi (0G, 9A), and Carolina’s Andrew Alberts would likely fill out the team (2G, 8A).
                Yandle - Myers
                Goligoski - Scuderi
                Carle - Poti

                In net, the Americans would likely not have the luxury of picking a guy in net that has a long and storied history in the NHL. When there isn’t a guy that has consistently done it for a long time, you might as well roll the dice on the guy that’s doing it well now. I would hitch my horse to Colorado’s Craig Anderson (2.42GAA, .924Sv%), Detroit youngster Jimmy Howard (2.2GAA, .927Sv%), and I would hope that veteran Rick DiPietro from the Island (2.60GAA, .900Sv%) could be a steadying influence on these inexperienced netminders.
                Anderson
                Howard
                DiPietro

                This team would probably be able to beat the lesser-teams in the Olympics, Germany, Switzerland, et al., but would likely not be competitive against the top-tier teams like Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Russia, and Canada.

Watching at home on the local Prague telecast:

While the Czech Republic has brought us lots of talented NHLers, not many guys can be more disappointed to be left off their national team than the Ranger’s Vinny Prospal (14G, 33A). Phoenix 20-goal scorer Radim Vrbata (20G, 17A) was also left off the Czech team. Up front, Columbus’s Jakub Voracek (9G, 25A) and Florida’s Michael Frolik were also disappointed (13G, 19A). On the blueline, the Czech passed up stalwarts like Montreal’s Roman Hamrlik (6G, 19A) and teammate Jaroslav Spacek (3G, 16A). In net, the only Czech goalie who has logged a noticeable amount of minutes in the NHL that was left off the national team is Washington’s backup Michal Neuvirth                          (2.75GAA, .914Sv%).
This team would likely struggle with some depth in net and on the blueline.

Finnish Forgottens:

                Up in Helsinki, Jussi Jokinen (23G, 26A) from Calgary is wondering why he was left off the blue-and-white. Other than that, the Finnish forwards represent the highest point-scoring forwards of all Fins in the NHL. On the blueline, Anssi Salmela from Atlanta (2G, 5A) could be considered, but it’s pretty unlikely. In net, Pekka Rinne from Nashville (2.80GAA, .902Sv%) and Antti Niemi from Chicago (2.16GAA, .913Sv%) are likely wondering why they were left off the team.
                Finland picked a team based largely on statistics and any blue line that is lead by Anssi Salmela is poised for trouble against the big guns.

This is Bolshevik!

                Russia probably made the most news by loudly proclaiming that there team would be equal parts NHL and KHL. In the end, the forwards were mostly made up of NHLers, but the point remains— Russia was willing to pass on the NHL talent (they did surprisingly take Kovalchuk, Ovechkin, Semin, Malkin, and Datsyuk, though). Ottawa’s Alexei Kovalev (32G, 31A) is likely the first victim of this policy, as he was inexplicably left off the national team. The Kings’ Alexander Frolov (13G, 24A) was also cut from the Motherland’s team. The presence of Russian blueliners in the NHL is rather sparse, yet Dmitry Kulikov (3G, 10A) from Florida would have still liked the shot to play for his nation. In net, only one netminder who has played in the NHL was left off the national team, Pittsburgh’s Alexander Pechurski (1.67GAA, .923Sv%), although he has only played one game.
                Kovalev is the one guy who was obviously overlooked, this team would struggle to keep the puck out of their own net.

Sorrowful Slovaks

                Colorado’s Marek Svatos (6G, 4A) was left off the Slovakian national team up front, as was Boston’s Miroslav Satan (3G, 3A), although both players are not living up to their previous goal-scoring prowess. On the blueline, only Boris Valabik (0G, 2A) from Atlanta is the lone Slovakian NHL Defensemen to play and not get an invite from the national team.
                I don’t think I want to see what Svatos, Satan, and a bunch of other Slovaks can cook up—this team would likely struggle against the German national team.

Other Considerations from Stockholm

                What more could Columbus’s Kristian Huselius (17G, 30A) and Vancouver’s Mikael Samuelsson (21G, 19A) have done to make the Swedish National Team? Atlanta’s Niclas Bergfors (16G, 15A) is also due an explanation among the leading forward candidates. Columbus is also probably scratching their heads as to why Anton Stralman (6G, 23A) was left off the blueline as well. Vancouver’s Alexander Edler (2G, 26A) is also having a heck of a season and is worthy of consideration. No Swedish goaltenders other than the three selected for the national team have been logging consistent minutes between the pipes.
                The Swedes could field a second team that wouldn’t stand a chance at medaling but is probably good enough to play in the Olympics. Take the Swedish B-Team in a squeaker over Norway 5-4 in a shootout.

P.S. This is another Weagz's post, as he has obviously not taken the kind of stance that I have on the Olympics.  Great stuff, comment away!

2 comments:

  1. Myers has actually played for Canada in the juniors, not the US. He was born in the US but moved to Canada at an early age. Would he still make Canada's B team?

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  2. I think he would in this format, because Weagz isn't taking into account the fact that Olympics invites were done before this season started. If he did, guys like Stamkos, Myers, Van Riemsdyk, and Howard probably wouldn't make this list.

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