Let's first look at the forwards:
Ryan Kesler, Patrick Kane, Dustin Brown
Zach Parise, David Backes, Phil Kessel
Paul Stastny, Ryan Callahan, Joe Pavelski
TJ Oshie, Blake Wheeler, Max Pacioretty
Derek Stepan & James van Riemsdyk
Ok. First and foremost in all the picks for Team USA, there are big injury concerns. I think over half the roster has dealt with or is still dealing with an injury from this year (I think Parise is still on IR?). I won't go into all the injuries but just check the NHL injury report and you will see.
The first eight guys on this list get a pass. They all have proven themselves, they have all shown they are more than capable at competing in International play, and they are all top US players that would probably make it to most Top 10 lists. They are also all returning from the 2010 Vancouver team which, as we all remember, got beat by Sidney Crosby.
With that being said, I don't think the same thing can be said for the last five guys. Blake Wheeler? Really? I guess I can see Oshie because of his skating ability and size as well as special teams play. I can even see van Riemsdyk, considering his resurgence this year playing alongside Phil Kessel. But Pacioretty? Over Bobby Ryan? Derek Stepan? Over Bobby Ryan?
What happened to Bobby Ryan? How do you put together an Olympic team without Bobby Ryan on it? I don't know. This was my biggest gripe with the forwards. I don't get that at all. UPDATE 1/3/14: And apparently I'm not the only one.
Now the D-men:
Kevin Shattenkirk, Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh
Cam Fowler, Justin Faulk, John Carlson
Brooks Orpik & Paul Martin
This collection of guys intrigues me. The first four on the list are basically lock picks based on what we already know they can do. I think the addition of Brooksie and Pauly, while solid, may not have been the best choices. With Orpiks injury this year and Martin coming off a few himself, I'm not sure I want to see two pivotal Pens in extremely intense competitive play that doesn't go toward an NHL Playoff run. Orpik probably got a pass because of his inclusion on the team in 2010.
What I can't understand here is why Keith Yandle or Jack Johnson weren't picked and can only speculated it was due to this season's play of Carlson and Faulk. But I would take Yandle over Carlson any day of the week. So what if the ice is bigger. The recent memories of the committee members seem to be helping the bulk of the newcomers see their first Olympic ice-time in Sochi.
And finally, the goalies:
Jonathan Quick, Ryan Miller, & Jimmy Howard
I think these guys are mostly easy picks to make. Ben Bishop got dumped because they thought he didn't have the experience in international play and weren't sure he would be solid, obviously ignoring his play for Tampa as of late. Cory Schneider was a consideration too apparently but the committee obviously thought Howard gave them a better chance at winning if he was called upon. I don't know if I agree with that necessarily since he hasn't been his stellar self this year for Detroit and he has dealt with injuries. But, I really can't argue with the top two guys here. For my buck, Miller is #1 with Quick right behind him.
What about the readers out there? Any comments about any of these guys being included, not included, etc? I'd also like to hear a few opinions from our rival team fans to the north. I'm sure there are many.