The Winter Olympics are quite a ways away at this point, but that doesn’t mean that teams can’t start taking shape. Coaches have already been selected for the Canadian and American teams (and probably some others). Camp invites are going to be sent out soon, and most roster choices are pretty obvious.
The Stars have had good representation in the Olympics for the past couple of decades, but that looks to finally change this season. Of the current players on the roster, only Sergei Gonchar (Russia) was on an Olympic roster. Stephane Robidas was an alternate for Canada.
Let’s take a look at the chances for the Stars players this time around.
Goalie: Dan Ellis
Defensemen: Stephane Robidas, Trevor Daley, Aaron Rome, Jordie Benn
Forwards: Alex Chiasson, Erik Cole, Cody Eakin, Vernon Fiddler, Ryan Garbutt, Shawn Horcoff, Lane MacDermid, Rich Peverley, Antoine Roussel, Ray Whitney, Valeri Nichushkin
85 percent of the roster can be eliminated right off the bat. A majority of these guys are Canadians who just won’t make it onto a stacked roster.
The same applies to Erik Cole and the Americans. Roussel would have been a lock to be on the French roster, but France didn’t qualify for the Olympics. Nichushkin is too young at the moment for Russia’s team.
Robidas was a part of the 2013 Canadian IIHF World Championship roster as most of their team was a “B-squad”, but there’s no way he’s making the Olympics. There are way too many better options.
Highly Unlikely – Brenden Dillon
Dillon has made some big strides in the eyes of the Canadian coaches during his short NHL career. He was a part of the Canadian World Championship team last year, which was coincidentally coached by Lindy Ruff. Ruff will be a part of the coaching staff again and might be able to put some clout behind Dillon’s name.
The problem here is that Canada is stacked on defense. Locks to team this year are Olympic veterans Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty and Shea Weber. P.K Subban and and Alex Pietrangelo are too good not to make the team. Francois Beauchemin had a breakout year with the Ducks and should be on the team. Kris Letang will probably make the team despite his defensive issues.
That leaves one (maybe two) spots on defense for Dillon to try to break onto. He’ll be competing with guys like Brian Campbell, Brent Seabrook (an Olympic vet), Dan Hamhuis, Dan Girardi, Jay Bouwmeester and Justin Schultz.
Camp invites are out soon, so it’ll be interesting to see if he gets much consideration.
Finland has way too many solid goalies on their roster. Pekka Rinne is a lock as the starter for the team. Tuukka Rask has emerged as a top goalie in the league this year and should be on the team.
That leaves one spot on the roster to be decided most likely between Lehtonen, Antti Niemi and Niklas Backstrom. Miikka Kiprusoff has been the starting goalie for the past two Olympics and might get a spot just for veteran presence.
It would probably benefit the Stars more if Lehtonen didn’t make the team so he could rest and protect his always fragile groin issues. Lehtonen is in contention though and has a good shot at making the team.
Goose is an interesting case. He’s only been on one major international team in his career (2012 WC) and the U.S team has some solid defensemen to choose from. Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh and Keith Yandle are assured spots on the team. Brooks Orpik, Kevin Shattenkirk and Jack Johnson will most likely make the team.
That leaves two spots at most for extra defensemen, and there’re a lot of guys in contention: Paul Martin, Dustin Byfuglien, Erik Johnson, Zach Bogosian, Cam Fowler, Matt Carle, Justin Faulk.
It’s going to be an uphill battle for Goose to make the team.
Gonchar is going to have a tough battle to make the Olympics. He’s an Olympic veteran on a Russian team that enjoys the skill players, and he’s certainly got plenty of skill, but he’s oooooold and would have a ton of trouble with the speed and skill of other forwards on the open Olympic ice. Russia has a lot of solid, young defensemen who are more mobile.
Gonchar might get on the roster to be a veteran presence on the blue line.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin
Benn and Seguin would both be locks on the rosters of any other team in the world. They just happen to share the nationality of the deepest, most talented group of players in the world, the Canadian forwards.
Of the 14 or so spots available, at least nine of them are locked up for Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, John Tavares, Eric Staal and Martin St. Louis.
Good bets to make the team are Logan Couture, Taylor Hall and Rick Nash. That leaves two spots for a plethora of players, not including Benn or Seguin: James Neal, Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Getzlaf, Jason Spezza, Milan Lucic, Patrick Sharp and the list goes on.
Benn is a better bet to make the squad. He’s a bit older and has some international experience with the Canadian team. He wouldn’t need to play out of position on the wing and is a bit more well-rounded as a player. Out of all the players on the Stars roster, either he or Lehtonen have the best chances of making the Olympics, but there are no sure locks anymore for the Stars (miss ya Loui).