From USA Hockey.com
USA Hockey today announced that 34 players, representing 22 National Hockey League teams, have been invited to the U.S. Olympic Men's Ice Hockey Orientation Camp from Aug. 17-19, at Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Ill.Here's the orientation camp roster:
Goal: Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick, Tim Thomas
Defence: Tom Gilbert, Tim Gleason, Ron Hainsey, Erik Johnson, Jack Johnson, Mike Komisarek, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, Brian Rafalski, Robert Scuderi, Ryan Suter, Ryan Whitney
Forwards: David Backes, David Booth, Dustin Brown, Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan Callahan, Chris Drury, Scott Gomez, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, Jamie Langenbrunner, Ryan Malone, Mike Modano, Kyle Okposo, T.J. Oshie, Zach Parise, Joe Pavelski, Bobby Ryan, Paul Stastny
You would have to think that, barring injuries, the majority of Team USA will come from this group. Oh sure, there will be additions and subtractions, but there are some interesting names not invited here.
I'm surprised not to see youngsters like Blake Wheeler, Peter Mueller, Keith Ballard and Jason Pominville on the team. All four had rough spots in their season last year, so maybe USA Hockey is sending out the message that you must be consistently great all season to make the team. I have to think all four players are very much still on USA's watch list.
I'm also surprised not to see a fourth goalie in camp, if only to make drills and scrimmages easier. Why not invite Ty Conklin or Craig Anderson?
I am not terribly surprised to see some real veterans not invited. We already all know what they can do anyways, so the team should be using this opportunity to better get to know some of the younger players.
As I see Team USA right now they are impressive up front, big and physical with a nice touch of speed and talent. If Miller or Thomas can be hot at the right time, the Americans will make lots of noise in Vancouver 2010.
The weakness may be the blue line. The group seems lack a truly dominating defenseman. If healthy Canada could have 6 or 7 of them. None of the American players have a lot of "presence" about them.
The group should not be underestimated though. If they can keep the slot clean and clear the puck, they will do well. Sometimes keeping things simple is the key to victory.
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