Tonight at the Bridgestone Arena David Poile not only will be watching the contest between the Rangers and his Predators with the critical eye of being Nashville's General Manager, he will be watching Ryan Callahan, Ryan McDonagh, Derek Stepan, and Chris Kreider very closely for his other key position, that of General Manager of the 2014 United States Olympic hockey team.
Callahan, McDonagh, and Stepan all took part in Team USA's mini camp in Washington prior to the start of Rangers training camp, while Kreider might be playing his way into at least being considered for a spot now that he has recorded 12 points in 15 games since being recalled from the minor leagues.
Without actually saying that Callahan would be on the team, Poile gave every indication Saturday morning that the Rangers captain will appear in his second Olympics after helping the U.S. secure a silver medal at the Vancouver Games in 2010.
"Management and the coaching staff created a leadership group that we met with ahead of the orientation camp in August, and Ryan was invited to that," explained Poile. "You're never 100 percent sure on those situations, but he's one of five guys we chose to be on the leadership group so is that a good enough clue?!"
Though he has not played in an Olympics yet, McDonagh seems to have a very strong chance at playing for Team USA in Sochi, Russia, as well, come February.
"McDonagh has played really well for the past couple of years, and all of the reports we've had this year have been really good," stated Poile. "He's played really, really well, and I'm confident that he has an excellent chance of being on the team."
Poile noted that the United States is in need of quality play at the center position, meaning Stepan most definitely could be a fit. However he also pointed out that Stepan's missing training camp was not helpful, though the Blueshirts pivot "has gotten better and better as the season has gone on."
Finally Poile discussed Kreider's chances of making the team in terms of the rookie needs to show more consistency in his game, though his stats are certainly impressive. Poile said Kreider is in the discussion of possibly making the team, but did not sound as enthusiastic about his chances as the other three players.
The NHL will shutdown for the Olympic Break from Februay 8th through February 25th. As a result the Rangers will play only four games this February.