A look toward Vancouver, 2.0

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Last year about this time, we projected what the rosters for the top seven hockey-playing countries would look like for the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics (and reposted it in October). Well, now is a pretty good time to take a second look at those roster projections and make any necessary adjustments.

Instead of doing all seven teams in one gargantuan blog post, we are doing this over the course of a few days. Let’s take a turn for the patriotic today and the check out the old USofA.

UNITED STATES

Forwards

Zach Parise-Paul Stastny-Patrick Kane

Dustin Brown-Scott Gomez-Bobby Ryan

David Booth-Ryan Kesler-David Backes

Ryan Malone-Joe Pavelski-R.J. Umberger

Chris Drury-Blake Wheeler

Just missed: Jason Pominville, Phil Kessel

Defensemen

Ryan Suter-Brian Rafalski

Paul Martin-Mike Komisarek

Keith Ballard- Brooks Orpik

Tom Gilbert

Just missed: Ryan Whitney, Zach Bogosian

Goaltenders

Tim Thomas

Ryan Miller

Craig Anderson

Just missed: Ty Conklin

Skinny: The Americans are likely to be young, maybe the youngest team among the Big Seven, but they are also going to be talented. GM Brian Burke is likely to lean toward big bodies, especially on the bottom two lines because most of the high-end skill guys (Parise, Kane, Kessel) are diminutive.

Now, Kessel should be on this team, but will he be healthy in time to prove he is healthy enough to be on the roster? Same goes for Erik Johnson on the blue line and Rick DiPietro in net.

That group of forwards might lack guys like Alex Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby, but it is still a deep, intriguing group. Kesler and Pavelski are good faceoff guys, and that third line could cause fits for opponents with the combination of Backes’ toughness and Booth’s speed.Umberger deserves to be there as a proven playoff performer, though Pominville would make sense as a guy who can play the point on the power play because the defense corps could be short on PP quarterbacks.

The defense corps is light compared to the other top squads, and it also pretty hard to gauge. There are about 12-14 guys who are all on the same general level, with maybe only Rafalski and Suter being locks at this point. Others under consideration could include Jack Johnson, Joe Corvo, John-Michael Liles and maybe even Rob Scuderi. Tom Poti should be on that list, but he has a sordid history with Team USA and it is not clear if Burke and coach Ron Wilson would go to bat for him or not.

Picking between Thomas and Miller in net could be an interesting decision. DiPietro could also be in the mix as well, but Thomas probably deserves the first crack at being the No. 1 guy. One of them is going to have to be great for Team USA to have a chance.

The Americans will go to Vancouver expected to be the fourth- or fifth-best team, but a medal is certainly a possibility. Winning gold wouldn’t be a miracle this time around, but it would be an extraordinary feat with this field.

Wednesday: Time for the hosts — Team Canada

PREVIOUS ENTRIES

- June 3: Czech Republic

- June 4: Slovakia

- June 5: Finland

- June 8: Sweden

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