Olympic hockey rosters would look like with NHL players

It’s arguably the most talented Team USA roster ever. The Americans have remarkable depth, especially on defense which led to some tough cuts. Byfuglien, Carlson and Faulk are close misses, while rookie McAvoy would make a strong roster case, especially after shouldering hefty minutes for the Bruins this season.

A theme in building this roster is blending veteran experience with the next wave of stars. For example, while Suter is a mainstay at manning the blue line, four of the eight defenseman are younger than 24. This sets the U.S. up for Olympic cycles to come.

Team USA beefed up its center position with Eichel and Matthews. Miller makes the cut for his versatility. And while the Americans could infuse even more youth — inviting rookie of the year candidates Boeser and Clayton Keller — the forward group is mostly filled with recognizable faces like Kane, Kessel and Pavelski. Anything less than than a silver would be considered a disappointment for this stacked roster. –E.K.

There isn’t an area of concern on this team. Those Crosby and Toews lines could lead Canada in scoring or play a shutdown role, and it would be fine either way. Price could falter, and Holtby could win gold. It’s frankly unfair to the rest of the world that the Canadians are this good.

As usual, Team Canada has enough talent in its pool to fill about three Olympic squads, but some players had to be left off the “A” team. At the forward spot, I added two players who are having outstanding seasons in the NHL, under the assumption that they would get in on that merit: the Flyers’ Couturier, a terrific potential shutdown guy if Canada needs one; and Hall, simply for the salt-in-the-Edmontonian-wound of watching him score a goal-per-game with McDavid.

I assume Mike Babcock would coach Team Canada if the NHL had decided to go; and so, on defense, I figured Babcock would go with familiarity and bring on Rielly — his Leafs workhorse — which meant leaving a worthy Giordano off. Finally, as much as Crawford has earned a shot, Team Canada has to start grooming Murray (who’s only 23) for a potential 2020 gig. –G.W.

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