The Bruins are getting a well-deserved bye week. We here at Bruins Daily, however, don’t have that luxury. So, to make the most of the next few days, your’s truly and Anthony Travalgia came up with an idea to project the men’s hockey rosters for this year’s Winter Olympics if they included the talented players from the National Hockey League.
Today in the final part of our projections we look at Team USA and Team Canada. Check back later for Anthony’s reveal of the NHL Canadian Olympic squad.
If anyone took a hit with the Under-23 North American hockey team at the World Cup of Hockey, it was Team USA. Luckily for the Americans, they get to pick from that fine core of young talent in this scenario.
The 2014 fourth-place finish in Sochi and 2016 World Cup disaster didn’t sit well for USA Hockey. Thanks to a core of young players and solid veterans, this assembled team would’ve had a chance of medaling in Pyeongchang, at least in this humbled writers estimation.
Without further ado, here’s a look at how the 25-man Team USA roster with NHLers.
Forwards: Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Tyler Johnson, Dylan Larkin, Vincent Trocheck, Phil Kessel, Patrick Kane, Blake Wheeler, Johnny Gaudreau, Anders Lee, James van Riemsdyk, T.J. Oshie and Brock Boeser
Rationale: You can never have enough centers and the depth here is pretty deep with Matthews, Eichel, Larkin, Trocheck, and Johnson. All five made the projected lineup as you’ll see below. A mix of skilled players and power forwards provides flexibility at wing. Gaudreau, Matthews, Kane, Eichel and Kessel easily get top-six nods, with the flexibility to put van Riemsdyk, Larkin, Wheeler or Johnson into a second line role.
With Lee having a career year and Boeser a Calder Trophy favorite, the two young talents nab two of the final forward spots. We pegged 13 forwards instead of the usual 14. There’s a reason for that as you’ll see below.
Defensemen: John Carlson, Ryan Suter, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh, Seth Jones, Zach Werenski, Charlie McAvoy, Kevin Shattenkirk and Cam Fowler
Rationale: Wow, was this a tough roster to project on the defensive side. Leaving out Jacob Trouba and Shayne Gotosbehere was difficult, but that would leave two extra right-shot defensemen. Here you have one extra for each side.
The Werenski-Jones combo in Columbus is too good to pass up. A Suter-Carlson shutdown pairing would really give other country fits. Outside of that, McDonagh and Shattenkirk bring experience, while Fowler and McAvoy provide another dosage of well-rounded defensemen for the Americans.
Though he’s transitioned to defense nicely in Winnipeg, having Byfuglien as a flex option is intriguing. He can be either a 12th forward or sixth defenseman on a deeper American squad. For now, we’ll put him as a forward who can easily transition back to D if needed.
Goalies: Jonathan Quick, Ben Bishop and Cory Schneider
Rationale: Here we have a two-time Stanley Cup winner and a pair who competed in the Cup Finals. Quick gets the nod as the starter, but fellow Hockey East alums Bishop and Schneider also have a case for the top netminder position.