37 Players at USA Camp
The Americans are holding their orientation camp in Colorado Springs September 4-7. Today, USA Hockey has publicly released their list of 37 invitees. There will be 5 goaltenders, 9 forwards and 9 defencemen competing for the remaining openings on the roster. Previously, 10 forwards and four d-men were guaranteed jerseys leaving just 3 openings in each position available.The nine players looking to earn a position on the team’s forward unit are: Scott Gomez (Devils), Adam Deadmarsh and Bryan Smolinski (Kings), Darby Hendrickson (Wild), Jeff Halpern and Steve Konowalchuk (Caps), Mike Grier and Todd Marchant (Oilers) and aging veteran Shawn McEachern of Ottawa.
Of that group, only three will make it. The blazing speed of Gomez and Marchant should help their chances, the larger Olympic ice surface almost demands speed. Deadmarsh, Grier and Halpern offer grit and intensity. Smolinski, McEacheran, Hendrickson and Konowalchuk have good experience. (I take Gomez, Deadmarsh and either Smolinski or Marchant).
The 9 defencemen who received invitations are: Derian Hatcher (Stars), Eric Weinrich (Flyers), Bret Hedican (Florida), Tom Poti (Oilers), David Tanabe (‘Canes), Phil Housley (Flames), Hal Gill (Bruins), Mathieu Schneider and Aaron Miller (Kings).
I look for both Hatcher and Schneider to be there with either Tanabe, Poti or Weinrich. Whoever of the three has the best Oct/Nov should make the team by the December 15th deadline.
Perhaps most importantly, is the question of who will be in goal for USA? The five goalies invited to the camp are: Injured Rangers veteran Mike Richter, Mike Dunham (Preds), Damian Rhodes (Atlanta), Robert Esche (Phoenix) and Brent Johnson (St. Louis).
Richter will be on the team I’m sure, but he can’t be practicing yet as he is still rehabbing his knee. I expect Mike Dunham to also make the squad, with Brent Johnson rounding out the masked men. Rhodes hasn’t played well in the past two seasons, and is apparently going to be dealt or replaced because of it. Esche might have a shot based on his play at the World Championships this past April but, I think Johnson is a better goalie. Most notably left off the list of goalies were Tom Barrasso, Brian Boucher, Rick DiPietro, Garth Snow and Guy Hebert.
Who do you think USA Hockey should use to complete its’ roster? For a list of those players already named to the team, read one of my past articles on Team USA.
Writer for the Oilers and for the 2002 Olympics.