The U.S. hockey team’s Olympic orientation camp next month is expected to be full of newcomers.
Winning at the 2014 Winter Olympics is still the goal, but the U.S. is willing to give younger players a chance.
Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens, Jake Gardiner of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Jacob Trouba of the Winnipeg Jets will at least get a taste of Olympic life next month, even if they don’t make it to the final roster for the Sochi Games in February
Zach Parise and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild were those young players in Vancouver in 2010, and now they’re expected to be two of the best players on the team.
Of the group invited, 16 players were born in the 1990s, replacing some veterans who might be phased out as USA Hockey looks toward the future.
The idea, general manager David Poile said, is to reward success of players who have participated internationally, like Galchenyuk and Anaheim Ducks goaltending prospect John Gibson, who won a bronze medal with the USA at the most recent world championships.
It also means some from the 2010 silver medalists stand a good chance of being left out this time. That includes Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who will be at camp but could need a strong start to the 2013-14 NHL season while competing in a group that includes Jonathan Quick, Jimmy Howard, Craig Anderson, Cory Schneider and Gibson.
Poile made it clear the U.S. isn’t trying to make any roster decisions now and players who weren’t on the list of 48 invited to camp in Arlington, Va., next month still have a chance.
"It’s not the team, it’s just a start," he said.
Twenty-four NHL teams are represented and 16 of the invited players have prior Olympic experience. Among those past Olympians are Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings), Parise and Suter.
Other key NHL players invited include Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks), Phil Kessel (Toronto Maple Leafs).
Nine of the players competed on the bronze-medal winning US Men’s National Team at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation World, including Gibson (Norfolk Admirals); forwards Nick Bjugstad (Florida Panthers), Galchenyuk (Montreal Canadiens), T.J. Oshie (St. Louis Blues), Craig Smith (Nashville Predators) and Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche); and defensemen Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes), Erik Johnson (Colorado Avalanche) and Trouba (Winnipeg Jets).
The 2014 men’s team will be coached by Dan Bylsma.