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Olympics could help shape next generation of NHL stars

Feb 12, 2014, 9:55 AM EDT

USA defenseman Justin Faulk runs through a drill during a training session at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Monday, Feb. 10, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson) AP

After all the buildup, the 2014 Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament is finally about to get underway.

This tournament is about hockey’s best showing what they can do on the international stage, but it’s also an opportunity for a select group of highly talented young players to be exposed to a level of play that could help shape their careers.

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty would make that argument, given that he feels playing for Canada in 2010 changed him for the better.

“I’d never faced anything at that high of a level, nothing with that much pressure,” Doughty told CBC. “I’m a visual learner. I learned a lot watching Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger.”

Doughty was 20 years old at the time and while he was already clearly a great player, the following year he excelled in the postseason to play a key role in the Kings winning the Stanley Cup.

Canada doesn’t have a player quite that young on its roster this time around, but the United States has 21-year-old blueliner Justin Faulk and 22-year-old defenseman Cam Fowler on its squad. Meanwhile, 18-year-old Valeri Nichushkin will see first hand the type of pressure the Russian greats are under as they fight to win the gold at home.

Then there’s guys like 21-year-old Martin Marincin, who Zdeno Chara has promised to take under his wing.

So while this promises to be a memorable couple of weeks, the impact of these games could last far longer than that.

  1. wtfkwp - Feb 12, 2014 at 10:57 AM

    The article doesn’t mention that he went from basically the bottom of the roster to playing in crunch time during the Gold Medal Game. His stock skyrocketed during that Olympics.

    • c9castine - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:53 PM

      thats true he was just a could-be until that tournament.

  2. 19to77 - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:54 AM

    Let’s not forget Barkov has gone from being drafted in the NHL to top centre for Finland in the course of less than a year. Granted, because of injuries, but still, the kid was chosen as an Olympian at 18 years old.

  3. flash8910 - Feb 12, 2014 at 1:00 PM

    Drew’s stats:

    2009: 81 games, 6-21-27, -17
    2010: 82, 16-43-59, +20
    2011: 76, 11-29-40, +13
    2012: 77, 10-26-36, -2
    2013: 48, 6-16-22, +4
    2014: 59 8-22-30, +16

    Consistently declining numbers are for the better???

    • c9castine - Feb 12, 2014 at 11:55 PM

      here we go again.

      goals + assist + plus/minus = players worth

  4. djshnooks - Feb 12, 2014 at 9:53 PM

    Nice article…but why no mention of Sabres rookie/top prospect Zemgus Girgensons?

    He is 19/20 years old and basically the leader and best player on Latvia.

    He is gonna be special…and you missed an opportunity to explain why, or even give him the slightest bit of exposure.

    Not to mention he is actually playing for his team…can’t say the same for Nichuskin.

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