With the depth of talent available at various positions to Canada, the United States, Sweden, Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, it figured those top seven countries would have some notable omissions from their Sochi Olympic rosters. Putting some of the best of the players left off together leaves a pretty formidable team:
Corey Crawford, Canada, Chicago Blackhawks
A Conn Smythe Trophy runner-up last spring for the Stanley Cup champions, Crawford could be Canada’s first injury replacement in goal.
Cory Schneider, United States, New Jersey Devils
Schneider came close to beating out Jimmy Howard for the No. 3 U.S. job, but he’s also not beating out Marty Brodeur for starts in New Jersey.
Ben Bishop, United States, Tampa Bay Lightning
The towering goalie is a huge reason why Tampa Bay is still in great shape despite the injury to Steven Stamkos.
Keith Yandle, United States, Phoenix Coyotes
Yandle’s brings an offensive element that will be missed by the United States.
Jonas Brodin, Sweden, Minnesota Wild
Brodin would’ve made several countries’ teams, but he couldn’t crack Sweden’s deep, experienced blue-line. He’s likely an alternate.
Victor Hedman, Sweden, Tampa Bay Lightning
Like Brodin, Hedman got caught up at a tough position, and as Lightning coach Jon Cooper said it’s a shame he won’t be showcased at Olympics.
Sergei Gonchar, Russia, Dallas Stars
The veteran is a reliable power-play specialist, though at 39 he’s slowing down a bit.
Dan Boyle, Canada, San Jose Sharks
Now 37, Boyle’s role in the locker-room is just as valuable as what he can do on the ice. He was a piece of Canada’s 2010 gold-medal team.
Brent Seabrook, Canada, Chicago Blackhawks
Seabrook’s skating isn’t tailor-made for the big ice, but like Boyle he was there in 2010 and knows how to win.
Erik Johnson, United States, Colorado Avalanche
Johnson’s a right-handed shot who is accustomed to playing on the international stage.
Jack Johnson, United States, Columbus Blue Jackets
The United States’ last cut in favour of Cam Fowler, Johnson sounds fired up and motivated.
Marty St. Louis, Canada, Tampa Bay Lightning
Possibly the most inexplicable cut around the world, considering his Art Ross Trophy season and value on the power play for Canada.
Claude Giroux, Canada, Philadelphia Flyers
A recent hot streak wasn’t enough for the Flyers captain, who had a slow start to the season following off-season hand surgery.
Bobby Ryan, United States, Ottawa Senators
More than anyone else left off their respective national teams, Ryan can flat-out score, which was a problem for North American teams the last time the Olympics were on international ice in 2006.
Radim Vrbata, Czech Republic, Phoenix Coyotes
Tied as Phoenix’s leading scorer, Vrbata was passed over for 42-year-old Petr Nedved and others, which is hard to figure out.
Joe Thornton, Canada, San Jose Sharks
Thornton’s inability to play wing, especially on big ice, hurt him in Team Canada consideration, but at 34 he’s still an offensive force.
Jiri Hudler, Czech Republic, Calgary Flames
KHLer Roman Cervenka and Jiri Novotny made the team over Hudler, who has 35 points this season for the floundering Flames.
Mike Richards, Canada, Los Angeles Kings
A key piece of Canada’s gold-medal team in Vancouver, Richards is still a high-level NHL player but wasn’t among the last cuts for Sochi.
Brandon Saad, United States, Chicago Blackhawks
Part of the next generation of U.S. stars along with Seth Jones and Alex Galchenyuk, Saad is a big part of Chicago’s success right now.
Logan Couture, Canada, San Jose Sharks
An injury didn’t help, but Couture probably should have made Team Canada based on his Olympic-calibre play this season and others.
Eric Staal, Canada, Carolina Hurricanes
Staal looked like a lock for Sochi before the season started, and his international experience is hard to overlook.
Taylor Hall, Canada, Edmonton Oilers
More than any other young Canadian winger left off the Olympic team, Hall puts up points by the bucket load, though he wasn’t good at last year’s world championships.
Alexander Semin, Russia, Carolina Hurricanes
Semin hasn’t played for Russia at the world championships since 2010 and has battled injuries this season, but he had a point a game last year.
James Neal, Canada, Pittsburgh Penguins
Along with Giroux, Neal is a potential injury replacement if Steven Stamkos isn’t healthy enough for Sochi.
Kyle Okposo, United States, New York Islanders
Okposo is almost a point-a-game performer for the struggling Islanders, though his world championship resume isn’t a good one.