NHL

USA Olympic team to be picked within weeks

The committee is ready to make selections. (©GettyImages)
The committee is ready to make selections. (©GettyImages).

Selection for the United States Olympic ice hockey team is just around the corner and general manager David Poile says the procedure is in its final stages, according to NHL.com.

The final roster will be announced on January 1st at the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and team USA have gold-medal expectations for Sochi.

Poile said: "The whole process of putting this team together has been fascinating and a fabulous experience for all of us.

"When you work in a committee situation with my associate GM Ray Shero and Brian Burke, who was the GM in 2010, and five other general managers, you can't believe the diversity of opinions.

“It is a unique experience that is almost indescribable."

The GM said his management team have met four times since the summer and will convene for a final conference call before making the decision.

The Nashville Predators general manager has also spoken to former United States players find understand what it is like to play at a winter Olympics.

"There is no question our defence is going to be different from 2010," Poile said. "For example, I talked to Brian Rafalski, who was on the 2010 team.

“I can rattle off a whole bunch of names who are legitimate candidates for this team that didn't play in 2010. [Rafalski] really emphasised to me that it wasn't really that important to get caught up in that because the ice surface is a little bit wider and defensemen have a little more time to pivot.

“That was a good point and something I'm going to pass along to the coaches."

The US team have not travelled well in the past. America haven’t won a medal in the past six winter Olympics played outside of North America.

Injuries could cause Poile a headache during the selection process. A number of likely picks are not playing including Pittsburgh Penguins duo Brooks Orpik and Paul Martin.

Goalkeeper Jonathan Quick and forward Ryan Callahan are also currently sidelined.

Poile believes the talent pool is deeper in both quality and quantity compared to the Vancouver roster in 2010. That team had to settle for silver, losing the final to Canada in overtime.

“I think the interesting thing is six teams have been in the gold medal since the NHL involvement,” Jim Johansson, assistant executive director of hockey operations of USA hockey, told NHL.com.

“Our goal is to get to the gold medal match game again and switch the results.”

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