Filling out the Team USA roster will require a mix of youth, international experience, and attitude. The Russians, the Canadians, and the upper echelon of European teams will not be intimidated by half the roster returning, or even two thirds. Part of what will be needed is a bit of familiarity, so anyone who has played with likely players wins the tie breaker over complete outsiders.

Top Priority:

  • Craig Anderson, he’s played with Erik Johnson, he’s the best goaltender in the NHL this season, and he’s got enough of a different style from both Miller and Quick that if the coach has to make a change, the opposition will have to make adjustments.
  • Dustin Byfuglien, big body, can play defense and forward, has won the Stanley Cup has played with Patrick Kane.
  • Jason Pominville, an infusion of skill is needed and this guy has it.
  • John Carlson, is highly talented, knows the tendencies of several of the big names from some of the other national teams.
  • Max Pacioretty has turned into one of the most interesting players in the NHL. Almost a point per game player on a team that has been injury prone over the last two seasons.

Priority:

  • Kevin Shattenkirk, has played well in the very defensive system in St Louis, has also played in the more free wheeling Colorado system in the past.
  • Seth Jones, has won World Junior gold, will likely be part of team USA for years to come, even if he only plays seven or eight minutes a game, good experience for the future.
  • Alex Galchenyuk, has played with Jones internationally, and plays with Pacioretty on the Habs.
  • Rob Scuderi, no international experience, but has won Stanley Cup’s in two radically different systems, the Los Angeles Kings and the Pittsburgh Penguins, among the leaders for US born defenseman in shorthanded ice time.
  • James van Riemsdyk has had solid international experience, currently playing with 2010 Silver Medalist Phil Kessel.

Possible:

  • Alex Goligoski, the Dallas Defenseman gets overlooked a lot, but it should be noted he’s putting up almost identical offensive numbers on the far less talented Dallas team as he did with the Penguins. Has a small amount of international experience.
  • Justin Faulk, great young defenseman burdened by a poor defensive team. Has played under the flag, plays in all situations, like Jones will likely be around for the next three Olympic cycles, has played with Gleason.
  • Drew Stafford, scored 52 points in 62 games including 31 goals two seasons ago, plays with Pominville, some international experience.
  • Erik Cole, former Olympian, World Championship experience, two time thirty goal scorer, played briefly with Galchenyuk, and a season with Pacioretty.
  • John Gaudreau, speedy little pure goal scorer,
  • John Gibson, WJC tournament MVP, stud goaltender.
  • Rocco Grimaldi, speedy, agile, had two goals in the WJC win over Sweden.
  • Blake Wheeler, great reach, good speed, plays in all situations.
  • J.T. Miller, played in on the WJC gold team with Gibson, Gaudreau, Grimaldi, Jones, playing for the Rangers and getting compliments from John Tortorello.

Long Shots:

  • Emerson Etem has proved himself at the junior level in the WHL, he’s yet to make a big mark in the NHL, but he’s got speed to burn and plays on the same team as Bobby Ryan, some games for the NAHL national team.
  • Tyler Myers if he can somehow get his grove back he’s undeniably talented, has developed some aggression, and is both a good skater and puck handler.
  • Brandon Dubinsky, has had a downturn in production lately, but had a good World Championship and is a great two way player.
  • Jack McCabe, captain of the gold team, solid defender, but the defense is the area where the team is likely to have the least turnover.
  • Jimmy Howard no slight on his talent, but he’s about the fourth best American goaltender in the NHL right now. National development team veteran.
  • T.J. Oshie, depending on how the top lines shake down he might find himself tapped to captain the penalty kill effort, also plays with Backes, some national experience, plays physical.
  • Kyle Palmeri has a hat trick this season, and half of his goals have been game winners, national experience, and plays with Bobby Ryan.
  • Paul Gaustad, incredible faceoff man, great penalty killer, like Oshie could end up as a “role player”, team guy.

Given the eventual composition of Teams Canada and Russia, ensuring there is a viable penalty kill, players at all positions who can skate, and guys who won’t wilt under physical play or the bright lights of Olympic play take priority over pure skill with questionable fortitude. With a deep enough team, playing against the weaker teams gets easier because you can use your whole bench and stay reasonably fresh for the games where one bad five minute stretch can bounce you from the metal round.

 

 

First you get money:

  • Cap space is one form of money, and the obvious one.
  • Real spendable income is the other.

For some teams, the only thing that matters is the cap, not every team can (or is willing) to spend to the cap. And spending money for the sake of appearing competitive doesn’t do much good. Even with the salary cap rising and rising since the end of the lockout, getting rid of bad contracts requires you to find a fool to take the contract, wait it out, buy it out, or bury it (if possible) in the minors.

Then you get the power:

  • One type of power is the ability from ownership to move and get a big name with presumably a big contract.
  • Another is having few enough contracts signed to make it possible to take in multiple contracts if need be.
  • Assets like draft picks and valuable prospects are highly useful.
  • Fan support. Moving a big player in or especially out can have an effect on ticket sales and merchandise sales, and tv ratings.
  • Manageable non-movement and non-trade clauses.

The balance of these powers isn’t always apparent, but they all play into the equation and whatever teams management say, the last one is a huge thing. Dennis Wideman was traded from Boston (in part) because he was being actively booed by the home crowd.  Vincent Lecavalier wasn’t traded out not just because of his contract before Stamkos hit the team because he was the only name the casual Tampa Bay fan knew.

After you get the power, then people will respect you:

  • Respect the other management enough to offer what they need at a reasonable price.
  • Be honest about the condition of the players.
  • Respect they players you are thinking of bringing in.
  • Respect what your team, and coach do.
  • The fan bases respect once lost (if ever acquired) is hard to get back.

Does anyone doubt the Canadiens fans would have been furious if two days after the Pacioretty hit the front office traded for Zdeno Chara? How well received do you think even the (apparently) reformed Matt Cooke would do with the Bruins fans (and players)? Can anyone anyone see Marty Broduer welcoming Sean Avery to the New Jersey Devils? I can’t see any of those things either.

When it comes to respecting what players do, if you’re looking to find a large physical pair of first line players who skate well and play gritty, trading for the Sedin twins is probably not your best option. Likewise Mike Green has several good qualities to his game, but if you need a premier shutdown defenseman, you’re shopping for a burka at Victoria Secret’s.

If you have a coach with a mouth like Boudreau’s, bringing in a guy like ‘hockey Tebow’ Rocco Grimaldi may not make for a great mix. Coaches who are well known for riding their veterans over young players, may not be the right guy to have in town if you’re attempting to rebuild with young talent. And of course a fairly young coach who played in the NHL recently might not be the best guy to put in charge of one of their former teammates or a player they had a contentious relationship with.

Coming up a look at who could land some of the big fish.