My boys still have a poster in their room from 2010, when the Nashville Predators sent six players to the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, but next month in Sochi the Preds will send a much smaller contingent as just two current players will compete. This morning, the remaining roster announcements have been made, so it's time for the nit-picking to commence...
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Shea Weber is on the blueline for the Maple Syrup Gang again, part of a team that will picked apart by observers on both sides of the US/Canada border. Interestingly, former Preds blueliner Dan Hamhuis will join Weber on the team.
No current Predators were in the mix here, but former Nashville defenseman Marek Zidlicky made it (notably, Martin Erat did not).
Pekka Rinne faced stiff competition even if he were healthy, but his hip infection has obviously cost him any chance at an Olympic debut this time around. In his absence, the Finns are going with Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi & Tuukka Rask, perhaps the top goaltending trio in the tournament. Former Nashville captain Kimmo Timonen is playing for Finland.
Our old pal Alexander Radulov will of course play a major role for the host country, a situation which I've long thought complicated any thoughts of his coming back to the NHL on a full-time basis. Once the Olympics are in his rear-view mirror, will he come back to North America this summer as a free agent and sign with the team of his choosing? It wouldn't surprise me one bit.
It looks like here is team RUS: G: Bobrovsky, Varlamov, Eremenko. D: Belov, Voynov, Emelin, Markov, Medvedev, Nikitin, Nikulin, Tyutin...— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) January 7, 2014
Rus (cont) F: Anisimov, Datsyuk, Kovalchuk, Kokarev Kulemin, Malkin, Nichushkin, Ovechkin, Popov, Radulov, Tarasenko, Tereshenko, Tikhonov— Dmitry Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) January 7, 2014
Patric Hornqvist was on Sweden's team in Vancouver, but he missed the cut this time around as the Swedes can boast a pretty stacked lineup. While Hornqvist's constant effort to drive pucks on net is appreciated here in Smashville, just 13 goals over his last 64 games dating back to last season apparently didn't impress outside observers enough.
Roman Josi will represent his home country once again, after a fine performance last year at the World Championships. Simon Moser, who has played in Milwaukee all season, will also head to Sochi. Here's their complete roster.
As announced immediately following the Winter Classic, no Nashville Predators made Team USA, but that was no surprise.
Between Timonen (Finland), Zidlicky (Czech), Hamhuis (Canada) and Ryan Suter (USA), that makes four former Predators defensemen going to the Games.
So what are your thoughts on the Olympic hockey rosters, and how the competition shapes up?
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