The 2014 Winter Olympics are still seven months away, but the rosters for several national teams are beginning to take shape as invite lists for pre-Olympic camps are starting to be announced.
So far, five Colorado Avalanche players will be heading to August orientation camps in preparation for the February Olympics with Semyon Varlamov (Russia), Matt Duchene (Canada), Erik Johnson (United States) and Paul Stastny (United States) being invited to their respective countries' camps on Monday. Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog was invited to Sweden's pre-Olympic meeting for the Sochi Games last week.
Duchene is one of 47 players invited to Canada's orientation camp, which will be held Aug. 25-28 in Calgary, Alberta. Despite 25 forwards being invited, Duchene figures to have a good chance to compete for a final roster spot with his ability to play both the center and wing positions, his previous international experience, and with him coming off one of his best seasons of his career in Colorado where he scored 43 points (17 goals and 26 assists) in 47 games.
The Haliburton, Ontario native continued his strong play after the 2013 NHL season with Canada at the IIHF Men's World Championship where he scored four goals – the second most on the team. Duchene has been a member of Team Canada at the last three world championships.
"So [honored] to be invited to @HockeyCanada's Olympic Orientation Camp!," Duchene tweeted after the announcement.
For Varlamov, he will be competing for one of three goaltending spots on the Russian squad after five netminders were invited to the Aug. 23-24 camp in Sochi, Russia. Varlamov has previous experience on the Russian National Team as he's participated in three world championship tournaments (2010, 2012, 2013) and was a member of the 2010 Olympic team in Vancouver as a backup.
A native of Samara, Russia, Varlamov backstopped the national team to the gold medal at the 2012 world championship with an 8-0 record, a 1.77 goals-against average and .939 save percentage. At this year's event, he split time in net with two other goalies but still finished with a 2-1 record.
When the United States announced the 48 invitees to its Aug. 26-27 camp in Arlington, Va., there was no surprise on which Avs players would be represented. Both Johnson and Stastny have plenty of previous international experience with Team USA, which includes helping the squad win the silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Johnson (Bloomington, Minn.), a former member of USA's National Team Development Program (Under-17 National Team), has played in two world junior championships, two world championships, and the 2010 Olympics for the Americans. At the 2013 IIHF World Championship, the defenseman had four points (two goals and two assists) to help the United States to its first medal (bronze) at the tournament since 2004.
Stastny was also a member of USA's 2013 world championship team and finished second overall in assists (8) and points (15) and was third in goals (7) at the tournament. He was named to the all-tournament team after picking up points in eight of the U.S.'s 10 games, which included a six-game point streak. Stastny, who grew up in the St. Louis, Mo., area, was also a member of Team USA's world championship tournament teams in 2007 and 2012.
Landeskog is one of 18 forwards on Sweden's 35-man list for the squad's pre-Olympic meeting in Stockholm, Sweden on Aug. 12-14. The Avalanche captain has been a member of the Swedish National Team at the last two world championships and at the 2011 world junior championship. Landeskog, who is from Stockholm, scored three goals at the 2013 tournament and had an assist during Sweden's gold medal game win over Switzerland.
The Czech Republic and Norway have yet to announce their orientation camp rosters, meaning three more Avalanche players/prospects could be added to pre-Olympic camps: Jan Hejda and Tomas Vincour with the Czech Republic and Jonas Holos with Norway.
The 2014 Winter Olympic men's hockey tournament will run Feb. 12-23.