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U.S. roster projection: Lacking true No. 1 center

Tuesday, 11.26.2013 / 3:00 AM / 2014 Olympics

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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U.S. roster projection: Lacking true No. 1 center
NHL.com's Dan Rosen projects the U.S. Olympic men's hockey roster for the 2014 Sochi Games.
ROSEN'S PROJECTED U.S. FORWARDS
Zach Parise Ryan Kesler Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk David Backes Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty Joe Pavelski Bobby Ryan
Dustin Brown Derek Stepan Ryan Callahan
T.J. Oshie Paul Stastny

The United States is loaded on the wings, but it doesn't have a true No. 1 center. Kesler or Backes can be that guy, especially because of the wingers that coach Dan Bylsma has at his disposal. When you factor in Pavelski and Stepan, the U.S. has enviable depth up front and shouldn't have to worry about putting a compromised line on the ice.

MASISAK'S PROJECTED U.S. ROSTER

The big question here is who makes it as the 13th and 14th forwards. Oshie belongs because of the gritty game he plays, and Stastny gets the nod over Montreal Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk because he's a safer, more experienced option to play center. Stastny is probably the Americans' second best faceoff guy after Pavelski.

Galchenyuk, Blake Wheeler, Jason Pominville, Kyle Okposo and Brandon Saad all deserve consideration from the U.S. executive staff.

ROSEN'S PROJECTED U.S. DEFENSEMEN
Ryan Suter Dustin Byfuglien
Ryan McDonagh Kevin Shattenkirk
Keith Yandle Erik Johnson
Paul Martin John Carlson

The notable defenseman left off this roster is Jack Johnson. It's a difficult omission.

Odds are USA general manager David Poile selects the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman, but among right-handed defenseman, Byfuglien, Shattenkirk, Erik Johnson and Carlson are having better seasons. Of the four left-handed defensemen that made it, Martin might bring about the most debate, but he's turned himself into a reliable shutdown guy for the Pittsburgh Penguins.

ROSEN'S PROJECTED U.S. GOALIES
Ryan Miller
Jonathan Quick
Cory Schneider

Quick is currently out of the lineup with a grade-2 groin strain. However, Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi estimates that Quick will be able to return by Christmas, which would give him enough time to get his game in order before going to Sochi. Miller, though, would have to be considered the No. 1 goalie at the present time.

Schneider gets the nod over Ben Bishop, Jimmy Howard, Tim Thomas and Craig Anderson because of the consistency he has shown with the New Jersey Devils despite very little offensive support.

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2014 OLYMPICS POLL