2018 Team USA Roster (If the NHL wasn’t stupid)
Let’s grow the game, send our stars over to the Olympics for the world to see. Make dynamic/exciting teams and produce a product that comes second in terms of importance to (most) players as the Stanley Cup. Unfortunately, we will not be able to see this happen. So I took it upon myself to create a roster for team USA if the NHL allowed player’s to participate. It is far from perfect, and I would love to hear feedback, criticism, and analysis from all. First glance and thoughts of this roster, I was under the belief that this would be a piece of cake. However, I ran into plenty of road blocks, tough decisions, and ultimately came up with the best roster I believe would put us in the medal round. Here’s a preview of what my team USA would look like:
Mike Sullivan-Head Coach
Phil Housley-Assistant Coach
Peter Laviolette-Assistant Coach
Mike Sullivan leading the pack, and basically a no-brainer with back to back Stanley Cups. Sullivan also ends up getting the most out of the current group he has including this past cup run with Marc-Andre Fleury back in a leading role for most of the playoffs, and no Kris Letang. Phil Housley gets his first head coaching shot with the Buffalo Sabres after a very successful stint as the defensive coach with the Nashville Predators which is recognized as one of the if not the top defensive core in the league. Peter Laviolette recently joined an elite group that includes Hall-of-Famer Scotty Bowman as being one of 3 coaches to lead 3 separate teams to the Stanley Cup Final (winning one). His offensive strategies can help lead this talented group of forwards to the goal scoring that was missing during the World Cup of Hockey. Other notable names that could be up for consideration: Jeff Blashill, Joe Sacco, or John Torterlla.
The World Cup of Hockey handcuffed Team USA because it took away some of our most important Americans that had to be on Team North America. Instantly, the addition of a few key players from that squad makes us better. Eichel, Matthews, Keseler, and Couturier is a very strong lineup down the middle with the mix of scoring, two way play, and face off percentage. Kane and Gaudreau provide a bunch of creativity and scoring opportunities for teammates. Kessel, Pacioretty, and Wheeler provide goal scoring with the lowest scored by any in the past four seasons was 23. Pavelski and Saad provide net front presence and toughness needed in power play and penalty kill situations. TJ Oshie, see the following video:
Last two reserve spots, I’m taking Cam Atkinson (who can easily replace Kessel) that has done nothing, but score 21, 22, 27, and 35 goals over the past four years and Dustin Byfuglien for his versatile forward/defense role.
B. Wheeler-J. Eichel-P. Kane
M. Pacioretty-A. Matthews-B. Saad
TJ Oshie-R. Kesler-P. Kessel
J. Pavelski-S. Couturier-J. Gaudreau
C. Atkinson, D. Byfuglien
Ryan Suter and Ryan McDonaugh are monsters in a variety of statistics including plus/minus. I do not believe in the traditional plus/minus stat, but you cannot deny what they bring on both sides of the ice. John Carlson and Seth Jones are steady defenseman that can still skate in today’s fast paced game while providing puck movement, and strong defensive games against top players. Keith Yandle and Justin Faulk are going to be this team’s offensive dynamic duo. Yandle’s assists over the past four years have been 45, 46, 42, and 36. Can I add one of those years was with Arizona? 15, 16, and 17 goals for Faulk for the last 3 seasons. I’m rounding out my 7th defenseman with Shayne Gostishbehere which we all know had a bit of hard time last year, yet still put up 39 points.
R. Suter – R. McDonagh
J. Carlson – S. Jones
K. Yandle – J. Faulk
Jonathan Quick is still the best option despite injuries and declining numbers. His athleticism and ability to steal a game will give team USA the best chance to win. Corey Schneider is an interesting goalie that I believe could make his way into the current top 5 goalie talk. A career save percentage of .922 and 2.28 goals against average are pretty impressive. If Quick were to falter, I think Schneider could rise to the occasion. John Gibson could take the 3rd spot with possibly a brighter future than the two in front of him on this depth chart. He makes those saves that makes you jump out of the seats, but also makes you scream what the hell are you doing at some points of a game.
GM Christopher Cimoch has done his work, reviewing stats, cutting the fat (except for Kessel), and making the bold moves needed to get to the medal round. That is my only prediction for this team because other teams may be in their way like Canada 1, Canada 2, Sweden, and Canada 3. We can all dream that the NHL listens to the fans, NHLPA, and everyone else that wants to see the stars in the Olympics. If it does not happen, at least we will see Alex Oveckin leave and score 20 goals against the minor leaguers that all the other countries put together. This was fun, enjoy the feedback.
Livin the Dream/Crestwood Kid/Christopher Cimoch