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Who makes U.S. Olympic hockey team for Sochi 2014? Yahoo Sports picks the roster

Greg Wyshynski
Puck Daddy

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The U.S. Olympic hockey roster will be named on Jan. 1, 2014. The writers of Yahoo Sports and Puck Daddy have compiled their picks, with justification, for who will make up the U.S. and Canadian rosters in Sochi for the Winter Games.

We’ll cover Canada on Saturday; today, we’re picking the U.S. team.

Nick Cotsonika, Yahoo Sports NHL writer

Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown-David Backes-Bobby Ryan
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie
Derek Stepan, Ryan Callahan

Ryan Suter-Kevin Shattenkirk
Ryan McDonagh-Paul Martin
Keith Yandle-Brooks Orpik
Cam Fowler, John Carlson

Jonathan Quick
Ryan Miller
Cory Schneider

Up front, the Americans’ strength is on the wing. The challenge is matching the right centermen with the right wingers. The top two lines have a mix of grit, speed and skill, and Kesler and Pavelski are responsible defensively, backing up Kane and Kessel. Brown, Backes and Callahan could be an amazing energy line, but because Callahan is hurt, he’s in reserve for now. Ryan brings size and adds some score punch. Stastny is playing better than Stepan at the moment and holds the fourth center spot, but either could make plays with wingers like Pacioretty and Oshie. Toughest omissions: Brandon Dubinsky, Blake Wheeler.

Each defensive pair can move the puck and stay solid in the U.S. end. Suter should log heavy minutes and lead the corps, just as he does for the Minnesota Wild. Coach Dan Bylsma would be comfortable with Martin and Orpik, two of his Pittsburgh Penguins, assuming Orpik recovers from a concussion.

Cam Fowler might be the most controversial choice here. He’s only 22, but he’s in his fourth NHL season. He has offensive ability and has made strides defensively. As impressive as Seth Jones has been for David Poile’s Nashville Predators, he’s still only a 19-year-old halfway through his first NHL season. Dustin Byfuglien puts up the points in the NHL but is too much of a risk defensively, especially on the big ice. Other tough omissions: Erik Johnson, Justin Faulk.

Jonathan Quick should start in net if healthy and on top of his game. He’s the type of goaltender who can get hot and steal not just a game, but a tournament, like Dominik Hasek once did for the Czechs. Ryan Miller, who led the United States to silver in Vancouver, and Cory Schneider have played well in challenging situations in the NHL this season. Both belong ahead of Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Tim Thomas and Craig Anderson.

Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy Editor

Zach Parise- Joe Pavelski -Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk-David Backes-Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown-Derek Stepan-Ryan Callahan
Max Pacioretty-Ryan Kesler –Bobby Ryan
T.J. Oshie, Paul Stastny

Ryan Suter-Kevin Shattenkirk
Keith Yandle-Ryan McDonagh
Erik Johnson-Paul Martin
Justin Faulk, Jack Johnson

Jonathan Quick
Ryan Miller
Cory Schneider

Not a ton of surprises here. A lot of familiar faces from 2010. If you've been in the Team USA program, you'll be rewarded by GM David Poile. The selection process wasn't based on the three months of the 2013-14 NHL season, but a player's entire body of work, including the times they've represented the U.S. at international competitions.

This is why Justin Faulk, a young up-and-comer, and Jack Johnson, a veteran, make the cut as extras. Both have donned the red, white and blue numerous times, with Johnson having played 128 games in his career for the Americans.

Quick and Miller are the obvious choices for two of the three netminders.Quick was the young netminder brought to Vancouver in 2010 or the experience. Now he'll challenge for the No. 1 role.

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Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy Columnist

Zach Parise - Ryan Kesler - Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk - David Backes - Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty - Joe Pavelski - Bobby Ryan
Kyle Okposo - Paul Stastny - Blake Wheeler
Alex Galchenyuk, TJ Oshie

Ryan Suter - Keith Yandle
Dustin Byfuglien - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ryan McDonagh - Cam Fowler
Erik Johnson, Justin Faulk

Ryan Miller
Cory Schneider
Jonathan Quick

Pretty straightforward lineup, in terms of "you want to bring your best players instead of trying to fill roles." Leave locks-in-the-preseason Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan (both with just 7-6-13 this season) home in favor of guys who are actually putting the puck in the net. There's still more than enough leadership on the team.

Mix up the centers if you really want to, because they're all about the same in terms of quality at both ends of the ice. Kessel and van Riemsdyk are not exactly known for their defensive prowess, though, so maybe you keep Backes, perhaps the most responsible of the bunch, with them.

On defense, play Suter 38 minutes a night, then rotate everyone else in as needed. Who cares, he's top-3 in the world.

As for the goaltending, I don't buy that Ben Bishop is an elite enough goaltender to be on this team. I don't think my preference for the netminders themselves has changed since the summer, but the order certainly has; Ryan Miller has just been outstanding.

Jen Neale, Puck Daddy writer

Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Bobby Ryan
Brandon Saad-Phil Kessel-Patrick Kane
Justin Abdelkader-David Backes-Dustin Brown
James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Jason Pominville
TJ Oshie, Nick Bonino

Ryan Suter-Cam Fowler
Torey Krug-Erik Johnson
Ryan McDonagh-Kevin Shattenkirk
Matt Niskanen, Dustin Byfuglien

Ryan Miller
Jonathan Quick
Ben Bishop

The forward groupings for Team America have specific duties. Line one is the snipers; all three can score from about anywhere on the ice. Line two is all about creating turnovers and using their speed to break off into odd-man rushes. Line three will go against the other team's top line. They are physical and can annoy the crap out of the opposition. Justin Abdelkader is the only question mark on the line; he's currently out with a concussion.

The final line is the 'blue collar' line. They crash the net, dig in the corners, do anything and everything to try to score. Oshie can be added anywhere in the lineup but would fit best with the grinding third or fourth lines. He has enough pest in him to draw calls and can score. Bonino is the super wild card. If the Ducks have beaten your team, Bonino probably played a part in it and was barely noticed. He's the ultimate utility forward. He can play center or either wing, he block shots, he kills penalties, he's just a smart, tough, do whatever it takes kind of player.

The defensive group is a gamble. They're relatively young and still coming into their own at the NHL level. Only Ryan Suter and Erik Johnson played in the D-corps on the 2010 team in Vancouver. What will make this defense work is the speed and their ability to force the other team to out-skate them to get to the net. Adding Byfuglien to the initial group of defensemen was tempting. His inconsistency is what keeps him from being a lock. His size would be good for playing against big teams like Russia but he's a slow skater and would be a liability against teams like the Swedes and Finns, especially on bigger ice. Matt Niskanen has stepped up for his coach, and Team USA's coach, Dan Bylsma while all the Penguins are injured. If something isn't working in the initial look at the defense, Bylsma can insert Niskanen and know what he's going to get.

If this were six months ago, Jonathan Quick would be starting, hands down. He suffered a pretty serious groin injury in mid-November and is just getting back to practice again. Who knows what kind of shape he's going to be in by February. If he's playing well, he should backup Miller instead of starting. Miller is on a terrible, terrible team but his play isn't the problem. He's been fantastic. Playing in Sochi will be a kind of redemption for Miller. Crosby beat him in the gold medal game in Vancouver and now he gets another shot to tell Crosby where to shove his gold medal. Ben Bishop is an afterthought. He's had a good season for Tampa but not 'starting in the Olympics' kind of good.

Greg Wyshynski, Editor

Zach Parise-Joe Pavelski-Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk-Ryan Kesler-Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown-David Backes-Bobby Ryan
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-T.J. Oshie
Brandon Saad, Ryan Callahan

Ryan Suter-Kevin Shattenkirk
Keith Yandle-Ryan McDonagh
Paul Martin-John Carlson
Cam Fowler-Erik Johnson

Jonathan Quick
Ryan Miller
Cory Schneider

The forward group carries over the majority of its players from the 2010 team, with a few additions to keep them hungry. The top three lines give you some dynamic offense and a virtual wrecking ball of a third line that will match up physically with any other group in the world (hi, Getzlaf/Perry).

I think Brandon Saad’s speed and adaptability at forward make him an asset on international ice. I’m hesitant to not bring an extra center or to leave Blake Wheeler home, but if he's healthy I think they end up taking Callahan for his veteran leadership and net presence.

The defense is well-rounded with some solid puck movers. As much as I’d like to see Justin Faulk make the team – he’s earned it – I still think the U.S. opts for a guy who’s been there in Erik Johnson.

The goaltending picture went from the uncertainty of a blessing of riches to the unfortunate clarity of Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard having sub-par seasons. I don’t see Ben Bishop overtaking Schneider here.

Harrison Mooney, Associate Editor

Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-Phil Kessel
Dustin Brown-David Backes-Bobby Ryan
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Blake Wheeler
T.J. Oshie, Ryan Callahan

Ryan Suter-Kevin Shattenkirk
Keith Yandle-Ryan McDonagh
Cam Fowler-Dustin Byfuglien
John Carlson-Justin Faulk

Jonathan Quick
Ryan Miller
Cory Schneider

This is how I would build the silver-medal winning American team. It's a formidable group up front, with a lot of really strong, nasty two-way players. Parise, Kesler, and Kane is your money line, with forechecking talent like crazy in Parise and Kesler, and serious offensive skill in Kane. I think it's wise to keep Kessel and JVR together, since they know each other, and it'll be fun to see what they can do with a real center between them. As for that third line, good lord. They're going to hurt people.

I think the top four for the U.S. is set. Suter, Shattenkirk, Yandle and McDonagh are all sturdy, smart defenders who can make up a reliable core. They're not better than Canada on the back-end, of course, but it's close enough, and in hockey, sometimes that'll do. I think you can let Dustin Byfgulien freewheel on the third pairing, and Fowler is the natural lefty that draws the assignment as his other half.

In goal, Ben Bishop is knocking on the door, but I think the American trio is settled. You take Miller because he's done this before, and he's done it well. You take Quick because he's the starter. And you take Schneider because he's the heir apparent.

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