Now that London 2012 is behind us, I figured it'd be fun to look ahead to Sochi 2014, and predict which Ottawa Senators will be representing their respective nations.
Obviously, one of the caveats with this is that NHLers may not be attending the Olympics at all. For arguments sake, though, I've assumed that they will be going.
I've divided it in to sections: Locks are players who I am almost certain will make it; Potential Locks are players who will make it, should they be playing; and Hopefuls are players who I think will be in the mix, but aren't locks to make the team.
Finally, I have included current Senators, and while some will very likely not be Senators by the time Sochi rolls around, there's not much I can do about that (unless someone has a crystal ball?)
- Erik Karlsson, Sweden: At this point, he is as much of a lock as anyone in the world can be. He's young, fast, and offensively explosive. The Swedish national team gets to trade one Norris winner at the end of his career, for another just starting it. Lucky !@#$'s!
- Milan Michalek, Czech Republic: Played for them in 2010, and has improved ever since. He will still be in his prime for the Olympics, so, barring any injuries, he should be there.
- Kaspars Daugavins, Latvia: has played extensively for Latvia internationally: WJC's, numerous WC's, and the 2010 Olympics. In a nation with very little NHL level talent, the Dogman should crack the lineup again.
- Daniel Alfredsson, Sweden: The only question for Alfie is whether or not he is still playing. He is the elder statesman in Sweden, and is a guaranteed member of this team, should he not retire. I sincerely hope he plays up to this point.
- Sergei Gonchar, Russia: In the same boat as Alfie. Has played for Russia in numerous tournaments over the years and, should he still be playing, will be guaranteed a spot on team Russia and a chance to play on home soil. I debated putting him in the Locks category, but his age held me back.
- Peter Regin, Denmark: He has played in a number of WJC's and WC's for Denmark, and should be on the team if they make the Olympic tournament. That is a big IF though, as they have never qualified in 90+ years.
- Jason Spezza, Canada: Has been passed over a couple of times for the Olympic squad. His skill is not in question - in my opinion, he'd be a lock if he played for any other country in the world. It just speaks to Canada's extraordinary depth that he isn't a lock to be on the team.
- Craig Anderson, USA: Has played internationally for the US at the WC's. Ryan Miller and Jonathan Quick should be locks, but after that, it's not as clear. Tim Thomas will be a year removed from competitive hockey, if he returns at all, and I think Craig should be considered if he keeps up his strong play.
- Jakob Silfverberg, Sweden: Is something of a folk hero in Sweden, after his well documented MVP season in the SEL. He will have a good shot at making team Sweden, should he continue his steep upward trajectory.
- Jared Cowen, Canada: This one may seem like a stretch, but I think it's a possibility. He has steadily improved since entering the league, and will be a top defender in Ottawa for years to come. His offensive numbers aren't great, but they aren't terrible either. His development in the next two years will have to be significant, but it isn't unheard of for young defenders to make the Canadian team, as Drew Doughty was only 21 in Vancouver.
- Robin Lehner, Sweden: The crease for Sweden belongs to Henrik Lundqvist. Beyond him though, it's a toss up. His backups in Vancouver are not options at this point (Stefan Liv was killed in the Yaroslavl accident last year, RIP; and Jonas Gustavsson's stock is at an all time low), while the most recent WC goalies are largely unproven talent (Jhonas Enroth and Victor Fasth). I am by no means saying that Lehner is better than all of these potential goalies, but he is certainly not far behind them.
Thanks for taking the time to read! I'd love to hear your opinions.