The news that the NHL had agreed to let its players represent their respective countries in the Olympics has led to one major question for the Blackhawks. Who is going to play in the Olympics?
Everyone knows that Kane will play for the US. Toews, Keith, and Seabrook will play for Canada. Niklas HJalmarrson and Jonny Oduya will represent team Sweden. Marian Hossa and Michael Handzeus will be the selection for team Slovenia. There is no point in expanding on the merits of these players, we all know their resumes. There are two players that merit looks from their
respective countries that are not on everyone’s radar. There is one obvious choice and one dark horse candidate.
An Article in the Wall Street Journal, states that there is a shortage of Canadian goalies for the 2014 Olympic team. With that being said, the obvious choice for team Canada is Corey Crawford. Crawford had a special season in 2013 and established himself among the NHL elite. In thirty regular season games last season, Crawford was 19-5 with a save percentage of 92.6% . In the playoffs when the pressure intensified, Crawford’s save percentage improved to 9.35 (courtesy of Hockeyreference.com). If Crawford’s Stanley Cup run was any indication; he should be well prepared to be a goalie for team Canada. Crawford’s ability to handle the adversity of being the “second best goalie” in each round of the playoffs should speak volumes to Mike Babcock. In case anyone forgot, Crawford beat Jimmy Howard, Jonathon Quick, and Tuukka Rask during the Blackhawks playoff run. This makes Corey Crawford the obvious choice to make team Canada.
Now onto the dark horse candidate, he was a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy and named to all the rookie team. He is Brandon Saad. Brandon Saad is a long shot to make the US team; however, he deserves a serious look. Saad’s stat line from last season was: 46 games played 10 goals and 17 assists in 16.28 minutes of ice time (courtesy of Hockeyreference.com). With all dark horse candidates, there stat line does not tell the whole story. Brandon Sadd is no exception. Saad’s game has three unique elements that should not be overlooked by David Polie and Dan Bylsma of team USA. The first element is ability to adapt his game, Saad can play on the first line with the stars or he can play on the fourth line with your grinders. That was event in during his play this season with the Blackhawks. Saad’s second element is his ability to make plays that do not show up on stat sheet. These plays consist of getting the puck in deep and winning battles against the boards. The second element was on full display during the Stanley Cup Finals. The last element to Saad’s game is being naïve. Saad is a twenty year old kid who does not know any better. He does not comprehend that life at the highest level of hockey should not be this easy.
There you have it folks, the Chicago Blackhawks Olympic players.