…who would I pick for Team USA? We can talk lots about Burkie’s TML decisions, but let’s not. Instead, let’s look at a team with a much brighter future – Ze Amerikans! 34 players were invited to camp but only 23 make the team. Who would I choose?
Goalies: Ryan Miller (Buffalo), Tim Thomas (Boston), Jonathan Quick (LA).
That’s it, there’s no more goalies. I choose Miller to start because, while Timmy T is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, I don’t think he’ll repeat his performance this year coming. Miller is a more stable goalie. However, if Timmy T does managed to stabilize and give another great year, he can take the job from Ryan. I suppose the starting position is Ryan Miller’s to lose.
Defensemen: Mike Komisarek (Toronto), Ryan Whitney (Anaheim), Brian Rafalski (Detroit), Erik Johnson (St Louis), Jack Johnson (LA), Brooks Orpik (Pittsburgh). Almost there: Ron Hainsey (Atlanta), Paul Martin (New Jersey).
This group has it all. Youth (the Johnsons), experience (Rafalski), big shots (Whitney and EJ), passing (JJ and Rafalski), big bodies (Orpik and Komisarek), big hits (Orpik), and more. Hainsey is just a little old and slow to slot in, but he could fill in for Whitney or one of the Johnsons. Martin is a veteran, stable player from Jersey, who could help calm down any lineup, but he just doesn’t have the talent level to crack the top 6.
Forwards: Chris Drury (NYR), Patrick Kane (Chicago), Phil Kessel (Boston), Jamie Langenbrunner (New Jersey), Ryan Malone (Tampa Bay), Mike Modano (Dallas), Zach Parise (New Jersey), Paul Stastny (Colorado), Dustin Brown (LA), David Booth (Florida), David Backes (St Louis), Joe Pavelski (San Jose).
USA could have gone with their veteran players, but they have chosen youth, a very promising youth set. I make no secret of my love of Paul Stastny, and there should be no doubt he’ll be top line centre for this very promising team. It has some great defensive forwards as well. I wouldn’t put this team in the same rank as Canada and Russia, but it is definitely a medal contender.