Jan 1, 2014, 5:02 PM EST
Shortly after USA Hockey announced the players heading to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, a new discussion began — on who wasn’t going.
Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, a silver medalist with Team USA at the 2010 games in Vancouver, and a pair of defensemen — ’10 silver medalists Jack Johnson and Erik Johnson — were left off, along with Kyle Okposo, the NHL’s second-leading American scorer this season, and Dustin Byfuglien, the top American d-man scorer.
Ryan, though, is the biggest and most high-profile omission.
The 26-year-old is a four-time 30-goal scorer and, as mentioned above, represented the U.S. at the Vancouver games, scoring two points in six conests. He’s also the fifth-leading American scoring forward this season and leads Ottawa in goals, with 18.
Ryan missing the cut shouldn’t come as a massive surprise, however. USA Today’s Kevin Allen – granted access to some of USA Hockey’s selection committee meetings — floated the idea in a recent piece where he made his own roster picks:
The most difficult decision was leaving off Bobby Ryan (Ottawa Senators). He might be en route to his fifth 30-goal season. His hands are exceptional. But the Americans are deep on the wing, and other players have more to offer.
Ryan is not a skater, nor a defensive zealot. [Jets forward Blake] Wheeler was my pick over Ryan because of his speed, size and reach. All are important on the wider surface.
Ryan also represented Team USA at the ’12 World Championships — a team that featured another snub, Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson.
Johnson, who has been a loyal soldier for the U.S. internationally — playing at numerous World Championships, captaining the ’12 team — won’t be going to Sochi. The 26-year-old currently leads all Blue Jackets skaters in TOI per game (23:18) but has struggled in other facets this year, recording just 11 points in 40 games with a minus-10 rating.
Another Johnson, Erik, will also miss out on Sochi after serving in Vancouver four years ago. The Colorado defenseman is having a strong campaign (17 points in 39 games, averaging 22:32 per night), repped the U.S. at the ’13 Worlds and believes he’s playing some of the best hockey of his career.
It’s worth noting the Johnsons are the only two omissions that played in Vancouver and got invited to this summer’s orientation camp.
As for other notable snubs…
Despite sitting third among all American defenseman in points (27), Yandle was bypassed. The development will be a disappointment for the 27-year-old rearguard, who told the Arizona Republic he liked his chances of making the team.
“I think I’ve given myself the best opportunity,” Yandle said. “I thought I’ve played well. I showed what I can bring to the team.”
Okposo trails only Patrick Kane in scoring by American forwards — 14 goals, 40 points in 41 games — and is a veteran of the international game, having represented Team USA on a number of occasions at the Worlds.
Recently, Isles head coach Jack Capuano talked up Okposo for the Olympic team.
“His numbers are real good, but more importantly, this is a guy who’s been a leader wherever he’s been,” Capuano told Newsday. “He’s a high-character guy and those are important ingredients when you’re putting a team together like the Olympic team.”
The big-bodied Winnipeg rearguard (6-foot-5, 265 pounds) brings a unique skill set, able to play both forward and defense. He’s also a versatile weapon on the power play. No American defenseman has more points this season (29), but Byfuglien also has a minus-11 rating and there are questions about his defensive game skating ability on international ice.
— Minnesota’s Jason Pominville sits fourth among American forwards with 17 goals, but didn’t make the cut. It’s worth noting Pominville wasn’t even invited to this summer’s camp, getting passed over in favor of the likes of Trevor Lewis and Nick Bjugstad.
Jan 30, 2015, 7:05 PM EST
It could happen at the World Cup though.
Jan 30, 2015, 5:16 PM EST
“We would be thrilled to have them play at our venue.”
Jan 30, 2015, 4:24 PM EST
Ville Pokka is a fun name.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:57 PM EST
Spent last season in Buffalo.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:37 PM EST
Oklahoma City and Worcester do not.
Jan 30, 2015, 3:26 PM EST
Key Western Conference tilt tonight at Honda.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:48 PM EST
Not that that’s likely. Just…possible.
Jan 30, 2015, 2:17 PM EST
News and notes from around the crease…
Jan 30, 2015, 1:01 PM EST
Xavier Ouellet sticking around?
Jan 30, 2015, 12:52 PM EST
Pittsburgh d-man won’t play tonight against New Jersey.
Jan 30, 2015, 12:39 PM EST
They play in Vancouver tonight.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:42 AM EST
Ducks and Rangers have been hot.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:37 AM EST
Just one day after Artem Anisimov drew back into the lineup.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:21 AM EST
St. Louis’ forward depth about to be tested.
Jan 30, 2015, 11:06 AM EST
Rangers d-man has struggled to get games recently.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:33 AM EST
74-year-old was the first player to ever have his jersey retired by the organization.
Jan 30, 2015, 10:19 AM EST
Will he make his NHL debut?
Jan 30, 2015, 9:56 AM EST
There’s lots of interest in him, but teams that see him as a rental might balk at that price.
Jan 30, 2015, 9:02 AM EST
Both are out Friday.
Jan 30, 2015, 8:04 AM EST
Friday’s collection of links.
- Comparing the records of all 30 teams in the last two months 57
- Lightning ride Paquette’s first hat trick to Atlantic lead 8
- Price wins goalie duel vs. Lundqvist as Habs edge Rangers 4
- Leafs’ luck: Bernier gives up long distance goal, things unravel in third 20
- AHL announces new Pacific Division — who could go west next? 35
- Babcock didn’t think Wings would be ‘near where we’re at’ 16
- Brodeur announces retirement, leaves ‘the game with a big smile on my face’ 16
- NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks 5
- NHL on NBCSN: Rangers, Canadiens seek edge as divisional battles intensify 2
- Struggling Kings complete the comeback against Blackhawks 12