Sep
23

Putting together the next great USA Hockey roster

September 23, 2016, by
worldhockeyblog.com

worldhockeyblog.com

With last night’s loss to the Czech Republic, the United States capped off an absolutely humiliating overall performance in the World Cup of Hockey. This event was an embarrassment the USA Hockey organization had not experienced since 1998 in the Nagano Olympics, and highlighted the need for systemic change amongst their leadership.

With the archaic brain trust seeking to replicate David v. Goliath glories of old, specifically 1980 and 1996, the organization’s leadership lost sight of how to actually build a hockey team. They packed their suitcases with hard hats and sand paper, and headed off the World Cup to announce loudly and proudly that they truly do not understand the modern game.

Now in fairness, many very talented players were left unavailable due to their participation with Team North America, however, that did not stop them from leaving many of their most skilled players at home. Hoping to physically bully other nations into submission, the decision making process focused on character over talent, physicality over basic hockey skills.

Enough ink has been spilled on that topic. However, what I want to do this morning is examine the objective state of USA Hockey and see what the next great United States squad could look like, assuming both participation in the 2018 Olympics in South Korea, and the leadership of the organization actually taking their best players.

Additionally, this type of crushing loss allows you to close the door on the old guard and concentrate on your best young players for the future of international play. So, that will be the focus of this exercise.

Let’s start by dropping dead weight from the WCH roster. Justin Abdelkader, David Backes, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Kesler, both Johnsons (Erik and Jack), Ryan Suter, Zach Parise and Jonathan Quick: gone.

That’s nine players out of 23 without making a single tough decision. Next, let’s add back the guys from the North American team that should be locks: Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Auston Matthews, Brandon Saad, Vincent Trochek, Seth Jones, John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck. Now, you are back up to 22.

Now, let’s add back in the snubs: Phil Kessel, Tyler Johnson, Keith Yandle, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Faulk, Alex Galchenyuk, Kyle Okposo and Nick Leddy.

This brings us up to a roster of 30, and the hard decisions come in to play. Let’s start with the goalies. Ben Bishop will turn 30 in November, meaning he will be closing in on his 32nd birthday when the puck drops in 2018. This is the last time he would really have a realistic shot of making the team, especially with the talent behind him. He is probably still good enough, but I would look toward the future. With Quick already gone and Bishop along with him, that leaves us with Cory Schneider as the veteran starter, with Gibson and Hellebuyck in reserve.

Goalies

  • Cory Schneider
  • John Gibson
  • Connor Hellebuyck

Looking at the forward group, we were only down to seventeen for a thirteen-man roster. Kyle Palmieri is an easy cut, for me. Now, it gets extremely difficult. Very good players are going to lose their spot in situations like this, and I don’t have much of a choice other than to cut Derek Stepan, James Van Reimsdyk and TJ Oshie. It’s not that these players aren’t good enough to make this team (they are), but there are superior options. This also leaves talented Team NA options Dylan Larkin, Sean Coutourier and J.T. Miller at home.

Forwards

  • Jack Eichel
  • Johnny Gaudreau
  • Auston Matthews
  • Brandon Saad
  • Phil Kessel
  • Tyler Johnson
  • Alex Galchenyuk
  • Kyle Okposo
  • Patrick Kane
  • Vincent Trocheck
  • Max Pacioretty
  • Joe Pavelski
  • Blake Wheeler

The defense gets more challenging. We currently have eleven options for seven spots. For defense, I am looking for skating ability, transitional prowess and guys who can join the offense.   Justin Faulk and Kevin Shattenkirk are locks. Ryan McDonagh is veteran of international competition and can move the puck. Seth Jones is probably the best possession defender available to the Americans, along with Nick Leddy and Keith Yandle. The final spot is the hardest selection for me. I have three guys I would seriously consider in Dustin Byfuglien, Shayne Gostisbehere and John Carlson.

Carlson has the international experience and can produce points are a well above-average clip. However, his possession and transition numbers leave a lot to be desired. Ditto Gostisbehere, but he has specialized PP skills. Byfuglien is probably the most well rounded option, but he his skating is not on par with the other alternatives, especially in a speed-based tournament.   At the end of the day, I’m looking toward the future with a big shot and taking Gostisbehere.

All told, we are cutting John Carlson, Dustin Byfuglien, Matt Niskanen and Jacob Trouba, for a final defensive group comprised of:

Defensemen

  • Keith Yandle
  • Kevin Shattenkirk
  • Justin Faulk
  • Nick Leddy
  • Seth Jones
  • Ryan McDonagh
  • Shayne Gostisbehere

So there we have it, my vision for the next great American hockey team. What do you think? Hate any of my cuts? Leave anyone obvious off the roster? Sound off in the comments below.

"Putting together the next great USA Hockey roster", 5 out of 5 based on 12 ratings.

82 comments

  1. Msena88 says:

    Two goalies who have started 66 and 26 games respectively are locks for a tournament being played 2 years from now? Just underscores the ridiculousness in doing this exercise for something so far in the future.

    • Justin says:

      I would be more inclined to agree with you if they were in a position to need to carry the load. Sure, there could be unexpected events that change their career trajectory, but that’s why the team isn’t being picked now.

      This whole exercise was just a little bit of fun to highlight the philosophical change needed for the US to remain competitive in the international format.

  2. Walt says:

    Phil Kessel showed his true colors with his tweets, I wouldn’t put him on this team at all……………..Maybe he can be the garbage cheering leader, crying the blues, and showing what an asshole he really is !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Dave says:

      Really Walt? Come on, you’re better than that. He was snubbed by a flawed selection process.

      His tweet was not directed at the players. It was directed at Torts/Lombardi.

      • Chris A says:

        Yeah Walt, don’t let Backes’ butthurt mislead you about Kessel’s tweet. I agree with Dave, Kessel was aiming for Torts/Lombardi.

        • Pas44 says:

          when you talk to phil, tell him I said, this is no ones fault but his, he is obviously a problem child, and my guess is many more other them T/L didn’t want him around

          Sorry Rudolph… go play somewhere else…

          🙂

          • Chris A says:

            Why the Kessel hate? Please don’t go by the idiotic ramblings of the Bruins organization and the “Party Boy” tag they slapped on him. They did the same thing with Seguin, how did that turn out?

            • Pas44 says:

              Nah man, not hating, definately not.

              Phil didn’t fare to well in Toronto as well, thats 2 hockey organizations that didn’t want him.

              Every show, all the analyst, many who are past hockey fraternity all talk about his head…

              He hits pitt and plays really well, thank Hagelin.

              But no one has said he turned any page on the head thing, he just played well.

              he does;t get picked to play for USA, good or bad, I think he should have shut up, taking his medicine if you ask me, and not spoken out, publicly, by Tweet!

              I am old school, I think he dug his hole and if perhaps he worked and played well, gotten out…

              I just think he should have not made waves at this time for the players or coaches, be a mindful class act… let the pundits call it out, they would have without your stupid tweet, “home with my dog”

              as for Sequin, no doubt he hit the ground running in Dallas, I credit Benn for this a little bit, but maybe he also thought to himself, I better turn this around, I am awesome at hockey and want to go in the books as such…

              Can’t agree more about Boston being Idiots…
              Never any love for the B’s..

              • Chris A says:

                All fair points, except, I can’t blame Kessel for Toronto. Burke and his successor, Dave Nonis, did an absolutely terrible job.

                Add to that delusional fans and a press that makes the NY and Boston media look like a bunch of high school reporters, and there was no way Kessel was going to survive in Toronto.

                I know it sounds like a bunch of excuses, but, to me, it seems like the problem was less with the player and more with the city and/or team. Let’s not forget that Kessel is a cancer survivor. He is likely made of pretty stern stuff.

            • paulronty says:

              Hate? Bit of an overreaction there Chris.

              • Chris A says:

                I meant hate in the colloquial sense rather than Pas44 literally hates Phil Kessel.

              • Hatrick Swayze says:

                It’s just a lingo thing. ‘Why the hate’ basically means why the snub, or non-approval. Something as little as indifference could garner the same question in today’s banter.

        • Walt says:

          Chris

          The man was hurt, couldn’t play anyway, why put the team and the coaching staff down. I’m in no way a Tort’s fan, but Phil could have shown some class !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! So be it ……….

          • Chris A says:

            Kessel isn’t stupid. If he was too hurt to play I seriously doubt he would be tweeting that.

            • Walt says:

              So if he isn’t stupid, why post that garbage?????

              The guy has no class in my book………….

              • Mikeyyy says:

                Walt do you think people who speak their mind are classless?

                It needed to be said and the team mangamemt of team USA needs a whole not a piece of humble pie.

                What has less class a tweet or the absolutely piss poor performance of team USA.

                I applaud any player willing to say something.

                Even now torts is telling everyone team USA isn’t deep enough in skill.

                Too bad he benched all that skill for a patchwork lunchbucket crew who forgot that hockey requires passion and zeal to play.

              • Walt says:

                Mikeyy

                It just sounds like sour grapes!!!!!!!!

      • Pas44 says:

        interesting on so many levels.

        Tweeting is changing everything…

        But Dave, doesn’t his tweet say something about the players who were picked? Doesn’t his tweet put targets and make others talk about the players who were chosen in his place, if he deserved one or not?

        Why make any noise that could cause any waves?

        I wonder if Walter Payton would have tweeted…

        I think Phil is an obvious head case, and he made himself look less classy.

        🙂

        Great post, really showed how bad the NA team effects the USA.

        • Dave says:

          The Kessel hate is driven by Toronto media because he doesn’t have a hockey body. It has nothing to do with on the ice play, work ethic, or leadership in the room. It’s a lazy narrative.

          • paulronty says:

            That’s BS. Toronto media did not persecute Kessel & Burke(who’s an idiot) traded away a lot to get him. He & Phaneuf are both locker room idiots, which is why they are both gone.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              Phaneuf is gone because he is paid way more than what his performance should garner. Not because of his locker room antics or lack thereof. Similiar to if say, Girardi, were to be bought out or traded.

              • paulronty says:

                That was part of it, but he was reviled in the Flames locker room & he drinks too much. We’ve seen what can happen with locker room discord, PK is a good example too. Not that his teammates reviled him, he just sucked too much oxygen out of the room.

          • Pas44 says:

            So this Leadership & Ethic don’t count when he is at home and his country men, league and co workers are in a battle… a tournament…

            Let’s say what this is, Tweeting is a new form of attention and Phil misplayed his hand on this one…

            If he tweeted, “Go Guys” – “Wish I was There With You”

            or a number of positive things he would have shown this leadership… and in the room privately he could have made his negative message felt…

            “Im home with my dog doing ….something” whatever

            Thats a leader! yeah ok!

            Pass the Dutchie!

            • Chris A says:

              To be fair, they were no longer in the tournament when he tweeted that out.

              Was it a dick thing to do? Sure.

              Was Phil wrong? Nope.

              Was Phil saying what was on the mind of pretty much every person that watched the abortion that was Team USA? Definitely.

              My god, I just remembered that the corpse of Ryan Callahan was originally selected to play on this team as well.

      • Andy says:

        On a rare moment we don’t agree Walt. On Kessel he deserved to make the team. He does not always make his case in a good way, but Kessel is solid. His work ethic is questionable but his game is what you need for this type of tournament. He won the cup last year, in spite of many saying it would never happen. People can hate him all they want, but he was a big reason the Penns won, along with Bonino and Hagelin. The results of this years team USA were a disaster.

        • Pas44 says:

          I agree Kessel can play, I rarely hear otherwise, except for a spell he had in Toronto where he hit a rough patch scoring…

          I feel where there is this much smoke, there is fire.

          there are others that should have made this team too.

          I don’t think skill was or should be the only thing you go with when putting together a group of all stars for a competition…

          I think phil needs and now needs even more time to heal himself around players and coaches that also probable have their issues with things that happen to them in the NHL.

          Torts is a coach, a winning coach in the NHL. He has raised points towards the league, as he should… he takes his medicine and seems to keep the respect of organizations.

          Jumping up the chain, not working through the rungs…
          and acting out, like this recent tweet… I don’t like it.

          I think its a symptom of phil’s ongoing battle, with his own head.

          just my opinion…

          • paulronty says:

            Your opinion is right on the money. Pitt won the Cup, because they were well coached, they were far from the best team. They were all in & they have a guy named Crosby who was empowered by a smart coach.

            • Pootie Tang Jr. says:

              Kessel in 2016 playoffs: 10 goals, 12 assists

              Crosby in 2016 playoffs: 6 goals, 13 assists

              Who carried who in this year’s playoffs? Crosby had a much better regular season, to be sure, but Kessel was a deadly offensive weapon in the playoffs, dynamic and clutch–all while playing hurt. Arguably he & Murray were the 2 players who put Pitt over the top this year.

              • paulronty says:

                Say what you will, but Crosby is the straw that stirs the drink & you could see that with Sullivan talking to him all the time.

          • Chris A says:

            Torts is no longer a winning NHL coach.

            Since that Hank driven run to the Conference Finals in 2012, Torts’ NHL teams have picked up an awful 215 or 410 possible points (52.4%). That’s truly awful, that’s the kind of record that sticks a team in hockey purgatory, not making the playoffs and not picking in the top ten of the draft. .500 hockey is now losing hockey, thanks to the Loser Point.

            To put that 52.4% in context, a playoff team usually posts at least 96 points (there are outliers, like last year’s woeful Wild team that got in with 87 points and were promptly bounced in the 1st round), that would be 96 of 164 points, or 58.5% of the total points available to a team in a given season.

            Torts is a relic. The guy is a psychopath that tried to fight the entire Flames hockey team during an intermission rather than trying to formulate a way to win a game. That is the new, unhinged Torts.

            Also, I will never forgive Torts for sending out Alexandre Burrows to lay a dirty check on McD with less than a minute left in a meaningless April game. McD never recovered from that separated shoulder and that injury helped cost the Rangers the Cup in 2014.

            • Hatrick Swayze says:

              The only critique I would offer is in regards to the opener “Since that Hank driven run to the Conference Finals in 2012″….

              I’d argue that Lundqvist and Tortarella were the 2 reasons that the Rangers had the season they had that year. It wasn’t in spite of Torts, but rather (in part) because of…..

              Since that year, the wheels have fallen off and in my opinion, I’d like him as far away from the Ranegrs and USA hockey as possible. However, let’s not overlook the overall positive impact he had on the franchise while he coached here.

              • Chris A says:

                Two things about that season bothered me.

                One, was the 24/7 stuff on HBO, Torts really was ripping the team a new one on the regular.

                Two, the Devils line brawl (remember Stu Bickel, Center), while really entertaining, was a little bit off as Torts was taking a personal situation with De Boer and putting his players and the organization in the middle of it.

              • paulronty says:

                Well stated, let’s give credit where it’s due is never a bad option.

            • paulronty says:

              Torts is hardly a psychopath, a word that is so often misused in my experience because most people don’t know what a psychopath is. I agree that Torts has major difficulty controlling his emotions, which is his Achilles heel, but that does not mean he’s not a very good coach. When he goes into snake brain his thinking brain shuts down, just like it does with everyone else.

              • Chris A says:

                Ok, that’s true, is a psychopath one that does things with no care for the consequences of their actions?

                Back to Torts, isn’t part of being a good coach having a high level of composure? All those meltdowns have an adverse effect on the team and the more often he melts down the less effective each subsequent meltdown is.

                Torts has gone from feared disciplinarian to court jester that no one takes seriously. I wonder if the Rangers players turning on him set something off in the guy?

        • Walt says:

          Andy

          Plenty of other very good players didn’t get selected for this team, but none of them tweeted did they??????

          The guy was on a very good team, but I would venture to say that the Pens would have won the cup without Phil !!!!!! I never said he couldn’t play, but I wouldn’t want him on my team, EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          • Pas44 says:

            Pittsburgs locker room is high end, I doubt any type of room presence could shake it…

            Phil went to work in Pitt, No Doubt…

            The Line and The Coach helped him life the cup with that team…

            Still, I think if he showed some restraint for the stupidity this past week, I think it would have went a long way in his coming back into the status as a NHL’er that he very well could have been…

            Now he is a dumb mouthed, skilled, Moron…

            In My Book…

            with that said, we’ll probable pick him up in 6 more years.. lololol

      • Walt says:

        Really, they named a street for this guy, One Way !!!!!!!!!!!!!

        Let the thumbs down begin again, this guy sucks period !!!!!!!!!!!

      • Walt says:

        Really, yes !!!!!!!!!

        They named a street after this clown, One Way………….

        Let the thumbs down begin again, it’s fun that so many people defend this guy who no one wants around them !!!!!!!!

    • paulronty says:

      You are totally right Walt, you form a TEAM that has chemistry & not locker room idiots like the self centred Kessel. As the Canadian boys have said, to be a team you park your ego at the door.

      • Pas44 says:

        He couldn’t show any Ego, not until now that is..

        he entered the room with so many unreal egos that earned it…

        but now, he seems to not care again about his ego..

        Lets see how the other players feel about him in the room after his comment.

        Prarise said something along the lines of “dude, you were hurt”?

        that looks like he really understand phil, NOT!

  3. Doug Peters says:

    What about Kreider?

  4. Hatrick Swayze says:

    No convictions at all and a very strong roster. Given we’re picking a tournament 2 years out, you have to favor the young picks over some very competitive options. I don’t think I’d argue with many of the selections or reasoning. I’m surprised how good the final team, as well as the periphery cuts, look on paper considering the team I just watched go 0-3 in this tournament. What a god damn embarrassment that was….

    If you’re looking for a change in culture, this is probably the most effective way to get there- a silver lining of sorts.

    • Justin says:

      Thanks, Hatrick. I understand the American identity has traditionally been blue collar players that a greater than the sum of their parts. However, with the game being faster than its ever been, there are core skills that any team must have to be competitive.

      Chemistry and team concept are important and should not be ignored, but they do not trump talent. No one wants a team of mercenaries, but to deliberately leave your best players at home because they don’t fit the mold your team wants to identify with, you need to look at the decision making process.

      • paulronty says:

        It’s not about trumping talent, those things enable talent. A TEAM is more than the sum of it’s parts, which is the thing you overlook Justin.

        • Hatrick Swayze says:

          And this Spring Kessel not only proved that he could exist on a championship team, he can help to catalyze one. He not being a ‘team’ guy is not a fact and needn’t be paraded as one.

        • Dave says:

          That’s fine, but the parts for Team USA weren’t good this year. It’s like saying you can get a better car out of Kia parts over Maserati parts because the Kia parts fit well together.

          • paulronty says:

            Your analogy is flawed logic because we are not talking about a limited subset of parts, but a very heterogeneous set of parts with a major degree of complexity to them.

  5. Liam says:

    Don’t forget about other young guns that could develop quickly i.e. Noah Hanifin and I think Larkin will end up finding his way onto this team.

    • Justin says:

      I really like Hanifin and he could certainly earn his way into the conversation over the next two years. His possession numbers are severely lacking at the moment, but I don’t think that is indicative of who he is, as a player.

  6. amy says:

    there were notable omissions to the roster like Dustin Brown, Kyle Oposo and Brock Nelson and Nick Bonnino simply put the next gm better know what he is doing

  7. Dave! says:

    Gonna go ahead and predict Yandle won’t make your updated roster in 23 months.

    • Mike a says:

      I agree. I would take Carlson and trouba over yandle and leddy in 2 years

    • paulronty says:

      Yep, Yandle is a tire fire in the D-zone. He’s good on O, lousy on D. A good forecheck will render him useless.

    • Dave says:

      Depends on the age curve Yandle is on. Remember that Rafalski was on the 2010 team.

  8. Chris K says:

    I was thinking the same thing, i dont think in 2 years yandle will make this team. I think even if the team was to be playing this year, trouba should probably get the nod.

  9. Pootie Tang Jr. says:

    Some really good ideas here, Justin–but I’d agree that Yandle will not be making this squad. Would definitely keep Trouba in the mix, and I’m gonna go WAAAAAY out on a limb and say that Brady Skjei will be in the mix real soon for the US national team.

    Pavelski also ain’t a spring chicken anymore; and I think he was outplayed by Derek Stepan in this tourney. Stepan will be older too by then but will still be a good 3rd line center/penalty killer for USA I think.

    The joyful cuts from this team are your original 9 cuts–I agree heartily with all of them. And for the life of me I can’t understand team USA’s fascination with John Carlson….he puts up decent numbers in the NHL but I’ve always found something missing in his psychology, the guy just doesn’t have a killer instinct out there…he should be cut from this team going forward. Seen carlson countless times being involved in giving up big goals in the playoffs and in international play.

    Like your predicted goalies as well–spot on with all 3 picks. Schneider should’ve started this year for sure. Quick is a middle of the pack goaltender, he’s one of the most overrated players in the NHL….a bad positional goalie with really questionable decision-making out there.

    Next coach/GM is also a huge consideration. I’d give the coaching job to Sullivan, hands down, and try to keep Tortarella and Lombardi and Burke at least 25 miles away from any meetings, practices, or games. Jeff Gorton should be part of the front office for sure.

    • Chris A says:

      Carlson scored a Gold Medal winning goal, like, 5 WJCs ago. I assume that’s why USA Hockey is so loyal to the guy.

      Stepan will only be 28. For a guy who’s game isn’t predicated on speed, he should still be the same dependable player he is now in two years.

      Skjei, if he keeps developing, will definitely get a look. He’s played on WJC teams and World Championship teams. He’s on USA Hockey’s radar, for sure. Same with Chris Kreider.

      And Hayes, JT Miller, and Vesey could always force themselves into the Team USA mix. Although, if the next international tournament is the Olympics, there is a good chance the only current Rangers to make it will be Stepan and McD, with Miller and Kreider likely being in the top 30-35 players. The Team USA player pool of about 30 players will be set a year from now. That’s not really enough time for Skjei, Vesey, and Hayes to turn heads.

      • Pootie Tang Jr. says:

        Defense as a position is different–the US team obviously was lacking in that area, as neither of the Johnsons nor Byfuglien played well in the tourney. There aren’t a ton of impressive American defensemen in the NHL at the moment, I think that Ryan McDonagh proved to be the most well-rounded player of this version of team USA’s d corps. Would love to see McDonagh and Gostisbehere playing big minutes on their respective pairings next time around.

        The size/speed combo that Skjei possesses may force the issue. He’s a great skater and looks to be a pretty decent puck mover, traits that will hopefully be appreciated by the next team USA management group. Johnny Gaudreau should also be a huge asset for the national team going forward…

  10. SalMerc says:

    Is it too much to ask from this blog to possibly have the main bloggers begin to concentrate on the NY Rangers now that training camp has begun?

    World Cup is fun, but we are getting one or two topics a week. How about the main bloggers her(oh Suit, are you alive?) pick up the pace and get back to the main topic, which should be the New York Rangers!

    34 forward for 23 spots? The fight for 8 defensive spots! The new defensive mind behind the bench. Do you need some more possible topics? Is the trade market now closed until December?

    • Chris A says:

      I heard the physicals went super great yesterday!

      There is literally going to be zero news (barring bad injury news) coming out of Rangers Camp for the next few days, other than the WC participants trickling into camp.

      As for the position battles and what kind of difference Beuke will make, I think that’s all we have been talking about this summer. It’s a long season Sal, and we are literally on Day 2. Better to ease into it than dive in head first.

    • Hatrick Swayze says:

      Yeah, have to say I disagree and am enjoying the WC coverage as a nice change of pace. Once things actually start (for real) in Rangerland, then I’ll change my tune.

    • Pas44 says:

      Nah, really…

      its been so exciting, the coverage too.

      Seeing the future…

      Cosby Vs. Ovie for country!

      Maybe Henrik gets another great honor …

      ZUUUCCCCCC making plays … maybe he will score against hank.. if he does you know that little firecracker will give him a look…

      Austin Matthews first goal in Toronto.. off a sweet disc pass from McDavid…

      You gotta love it…

      as long as players don’t get injured!!!!

  11. Stranger Nation says:

    Yandle and Shatty on D in 2 yrs? so the idea is not to mark a man or play, you know, defense. Need the puck to transition the puck.
    Big Daddy and Trouba over those 2. Hopefully someone else emerges because that D is not looking too solid.
    .
    Larkin, JVR, Step, and Oshie over Pavelski, Kessel, Patches, and Okposo.
    .
    MacCapt looked very solid during the tourney, glad he is done

  12. Stranger Nation says:

    highlight of the event is Brett Hull’s commentary. Priceless!

  13. paulronty says:

    That lineup won’t do it, especially the defence which borders on horrible. You need guys who can defend & control the boards on cycles, and that group won’t be able to do that.

    • Justin says:

      The international game isn’t played along the boards on the cycle. It’s played in transition and on the rush. Need guys that can move the puck. You’re working with an outdated model.

      • Stranger Nation says:

        Canada winning with speedsters like Joe Thorton and Ryan Getzlaf upfront and Jay Bouwmeester, Brent Burns, Shea Weber and Jake Muzzin

        • Chris A says:

          Duchene almost single handedly killed off Team USA and he is Canada’s fastest forward.

        • Pootie Tang Jr. says:

          Thornton is a passing oriented center who is not a grinder at all; Burns and Weber have outstanding offensive ability to go along with solid defensive games; while Jake Muzzin is a good all-around player. Each player has better than average NHL speed. Your comparison is specifically selective in your choice of players and therefore pointless: any team has a few guys on it that aren’t burners. Sweden’s got Hags and Karlsson but also Hornqvist and the Sedins. Does that mean they can’t or won’t play a fast style? Of course not.

          Sweden and Canada are good teams because they’ve been well constructed by good GMs and coaches, instead of idiots who are 5-10 years past their prime.

      • paulronty says:

        Not at all, I’d say the same thing about you. It’s much easier to move the puck in international hockey because the rink is 15 feet wider, yet the game is way slower than an NHL game because you can take longer to make your decisions. Europeans always comment on that aspect. Board play is vital in any type of rink because if you go into the corner with a guy & he comes out with the puck, then you are at risk. That’s the genesis of possession. The Swedes gave up 6 breakaways to Team NA, with all that speed on the D. As AV said today, it’s team D we need to improve & it’s a good sign that he realizes that. Puck support was the weakest part of the NYR game last year.

  14. Ben says:

    I think you have to look at Torey Krug on defense. He is the best American defender when it comes to possession, and he can put up points too. He gets overlooked because of Boston’s downward trend but the guy is money.

    • Ben says:

      Also, Kevin Hayes has better possession numbers than any center on that list, other than Pavelski, who has frequently played wing. I still think that he can be a Joe Thornton lite.

    • Ben says:

      Sorry, not quite the best, but he is on par with both Leddy and Shatty.