The Olympics are now less than a calendar year away, although the selection process is well underway for the participating countries. The defending Olympic champions (Sweden) are looking to repeat as gold medalists, but an influx in young Canadian, American, and Russian talent ensures that the 2010 games will be hotly contested. Last summer I wrote a piece on my ideas for a prospective Canadian lineup, and ideally I would like to cover the rest of the hockey powers at some point before February 2010. Here are my picks for the 2010 American lineup.
Zach Parise – Paul Stastny – Pat Kane
The top line of the USA (in fact the entire forward core) is going to be built around speed and skill. Parise is a lock for the top line left wing position, and he has a shot at becoming the first American-born player to crack the 100 point plateau since Doug Weight did it as an Edmonton Oiler back in 1996. At center, Stastny is the best two-way center from the States. He is relatively unproven at the international level, but as we have found out numerous times, picking based on past experience and success is usually a mistake. Stastny is flying a bit under the radar right now because he has had an injury-filled 2008-2009 campaign, but expect him to return with a big season leading up to the Olympic games. At right wing, the Americans have a few options, but their best bet is Kane of the Blackhawks. Kane is slumping right now (thanks to a nagging ankle injury), but he has already displayed his superstar talent in his brief NHL career.
Phil Kessel – Scott Gomez – Dustin Brown
The second offensive unit features the speed and skill of Kessel and Gomez combined with the forechecking and physical play of Brown. Gomez has had an awful season with the Rangers, but he is still an elite puck rushing center who can break down opposing defenses with his speed and hands. Kessel has developed into a go-to guy for the surprising Bruins, and he possesses an elite shot. Brown's offensive game is nothing to sneeze at either, but it is not what he is known for. Perhaps the most devastating hitter in the game, Brown will keep the opposition honest, and allow Kessel and Gomez to operate with lots of open ice.
Chris Higgins – Chris Drury – Bobby Ryan
The third offensive unit features the speed of Higgins and Drury paired with the skill of Ryan. Ryan has emerged as a top line player for the Ducks this season after a long and arduous journey to the NHL. The Ducks were extremely patient with him, and it is looking like they made the right move. Both Drury and Higgins are responsible defensively and good finishers at the