2014 Olympic Goalie Debates

The 2014 Olympics begin on February 7th with the opening ceremonies in Sochi, Russia. The men’s tournament will begin the next day with two games. The deadline for countries to finalize their Olympic rosters is January 4th, 2014. In the mean time, we get to have some fun with predictions. Here are the participating countries. The U.S. have already finalized their roster and the rest are yet to be revealed. Stats are as of January 2nd, 2014.

Group A Group B Group C

RU Russia: Assuming the Russians go with three NHL goaltenders (which I doubt they will), the best three in my opinion would be:

  1. Semyon Varlamov (COL)
  2. Sergei Bobrovsky (CLB)
  3. Evgeni Nabokov (NYI)

Varlamov would be the ideal guy to get the starting role. With a respectable 2.33 GAA, Semyon will get the nod to start. As for spots two and three, these could go to guys like Vasily Koshechkin (21-9  1.92 GAA) or Alexander Yeremenko (21-4  1.84 GAA) both in the KHL. Nabokov beats out Ilya Bryzgalov in my books because of the uncertainty of Bryz and the fact that he’s only played a handful of games this year.

SK Slovakia: My predictions for the Slovaks are the exact same as the 2010 roster, only in a different order:

  1. Jaroslav Halak (STL)
  2. Peter Budaj (MTL)
  3. Rastislav Stana (KHL)

Budaj got the start for Slovakia in 2010, but since then Halak and Budaj have switched teams and Halak became a starting goalie in Montreal. Halak is (17-6) this year and despite having some injury issues this year, he will most likely get the start. Stana (10-10  2.33 GAA) in the KHL will battle Jaroslav Janus (12-11  2.95 GAA) also in the KHL for the final spot.

US U.S.A: Goalies already announced:

  1. Jonathan Quick (LAK)
  2. Ryan Miller (BUF)
  3. Jimmy Howard (DET)

The only debate the rose with this announcement was whether it should be Howard or Cory Schneider who gets the third position. I would replace Miller with Schneider as Miller has proven this year, he has lost most of his touch.

SI Slovenia: There is not too much info surrounding the Slovenian team. The projected goalies in my eyes would likely be the goalies that were on the team when Slovenia qualified for the Olympics.

  1. Andrej Hočevar (Elite.A)
  2. Robert Kristen (KHL)
  3. Luka Gračnar (Austria)

No one is expecting much from the Slovenians. All the best to them in the tournament.

FI Finland: This year’s Finnish squad is looking at a whole new crop of goalies thanks to the retirement of Miikka Kiprusoff and Antero Nittymaki.

  1. Tuukka Rask (BOS)
  2. Antti Niemi (SJS)
  3. Kari Lehtonen (DAL)

The Hardest choice for Finland will be deciding to start either the statistically better Tuukka Rask (20-9  1.99 GAA) or the more experienced Antti Niemi (22-8  2.39 GAA). I would let them split the round robin games and make a decision for when the quarter finals come around. By then a true #1 will emerge, and hey, maybe it will be good ol’ Kari Lehtonen.

CA Canada: Canada has the most options in net this year. So if anyone goes down with an injury they will have 10+ goalies waiting in line. I’m guessing Martin Brodeur won’t be making another appearance although he continues to defy odds in the NHL.

  1. Roberto Luongo (VAN)
  2. Carey Price (MTL)
  3. Corey Crawford (CHI)

The 2nd and 3rd spots could easily be switched at any moment. With so many options, these guys will need to be on top of their game to get a look at. Mike Smith (15-9  2.86 GAA) may be swapped in for Corey Crawford (17-6  2.49 GAA). I still can’t understand why Marc-Andre Fleury (22-10  2.15 GAA) doesn’t get any attention. Just because he had a few slip-ups in recent playoffs, he is completely overlooked despite leading the league in wins.

NO Norway: There’s only one active Norwegian in the NHL and that is right-winger Mats Zuccarello. As for goaltending, Norway doesn’t have much to choose from.

  1. Lars Haugen (KHL)
  2. Ruben Smith (GET-ligaen)
  3. André Lysenstøen (Mestis League)

Not that I know much about these guys, but one of the 2010 Olympic goalies Pal Grotnes is aging and may be pushed aside thanks to the young guys like 26-year-old Lars Haugen (5-12 2.67 GAA) in the KHL.

AT Austria: These guys didn’t participate in the 2010 Olympics but this year they could play spoiler for some teams. There isn’t too many options for Austria in net but here is who I think should start thanks to some help from the web.

  1. Bernhrd Starkbaum (SHL)
  2. Mathias Lange (DEL )
  3. Rene Swette (EBHL)

All three of these guys could contend to be the starting goalie… as far as I’m concerned.

CZ Czech Republic: A classic Czech roster containing Tomas Vokoun and Jaromir Jagr will most likely await us in February.

  1. Ondrej Pavelec (WPG)
  2. Michal Neuvirth (WSH)
  3. Tomas Vokoun (PIT)

Michal Neuvirth (2-3  2.83 GAA) makes a jump onto the roster this year. Although he backs up Braden Holtby currently in Washington, he has proven to us he can play well enough to earn a spot. I will be amazed if Czech republic decides to go with Alexander Salak in the KHL instead of giving Neuvirth the experience.

SE Sweden: The Swedes are always hungry for a gold medal and this year is no different. With a rise in young Swedish NHL goalies this year, I wouldn’t be surprised if all three tenders belong to an NHL club and not a KHL one.

  1. Henrik Lundqvist (NYR)
  2. Jonas Gustavsson (DET)
  3. Viktor Fasth (ANA)

Lundqvist is a shoo-in to get a spot but Gustavsson (11-3  2.39 GAA) has definitely deserved his spot on the roster after appearing in 17 games so far thanks to Jimmy Howard’s injuries in Detroit. As for Viktor Fasth, the Ducks goalie could have some competition, among them being Eddie Lack, Anders Lindback and Jhonas Enroth.

CH Switzerland: No matter who they play, they always seem to play a strong sixty minutes. That wouldn’t be possible without goaltending and Jonas Hiller always delivers for the Swiss in tournaments.

  1. Jonas Hiller (ANA)
  2. Reto Berra (CGY)
  3. Tobias Stephan (Swiss League A)

If Hiller plays like he normally does, than there will be no need for the other two goalies. Reto Berra (5-11  2.92) doesn’t have outstanding stats thanks to playing for Calgary, but may get the nod to back up Hiller. Tobias Stephan was on the 2010 roster and has NHL experience in Dallas.

LV Latvia: There isn’t one NHL or KHL goalie born in Latvia, meaning they will have to look at the 2010 goalies. Too bad Edgars Masaļskis is a 33-year-old free agent and Sergejs Naumovs is 44-years-old and retired.

  1. Ervins Mustukovs (SHL)
  2. Edgars Masalkis (FA)
  3. Kristers Gudlevskis (AHL-Syracuse Crunch)

I’m placing my bets that Masalkis plays for Latvia despite being a free agent. Gudleyskis is currently with the Tampa Bay Lightning affiliate Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League.

What Ever Happened To…?

You know those celebrities who kind of just disappear for a couple of years? Some come back with their biggest role or performance, some stay away from the show biz for the rest of their lives. Well some athletes are like that. They can either be forgotten about in the minors, have a quiet retirement, or start playing in the beer leagues. Here is my list of some of the most forgotten about players.

Maxim Afinogenov, The Russian right-winger played 9 years for Buffalo and 1 for Atlanta. He surpassed 20 goals three times and 60 points three times. Then, rather quietly, on Aug. 6 2010, Maxim signed with St.Petersburg SKA of the KHL. Will Afinogenov be the next Alex Radulov or Jaromir Jagr and come back to the NHL? Nobody knows.

Jonathan Cheechoo, This NHL goal scoring leader in 05/06 has had major point decreases since that year. Cheechoo had 93 points in 05/06, then 69 points in 06/07, 37 in 07/08, 29 in 08/09, 14 in 09/10 all the way to the minor leagues. Cheechoo who was sent to Ottawa in the Dany Heatley deal was supposed to be a solid second or third line winger but instead was signed by St. Louis in July 2011. He is currently playing for Peoria of the AHL.

Rob Davison, He may not be a superstar, but you may recognize him as the one who scored that 197 ft. shot on Vesa Toskala in March 2008 as a New York Islander. Rob is now playing Trinec Ocelari HC in the Czech league. Davison only has 18 career points in NHL play but will always be known for the only goal he scored in that 07/08 season. 

Alex Frolov, The Russian sniper played 7 seasons in Los Angeles racking up career highs of 35 goals and 71 points. On July 27th Frolov signed with the New York Rangers. The Rangers did not get what they had hoped for. Frolov played 43 games and only had 16 points. Then in May 2011, Frolov signed with Omsk Avangard of the KHL. I don’t think Alex received the recognition he deserved when playing in L.A. He never appeared in an All Star Game, but he did represent Russia at the 2006 Olympic games in Turin, Italy.

Jamie Lundmark, Drafted 9th overall by the New York Rangers in 1999, has struggled to stay in the NHL  since being drafted. Lundmark has played for 6 different AHL and 5 different NHL teams. He has under 100 points in the NHL. He most recently played with Milwaukee of the AHL before signing with Timra IK in a Swedish league on January 10, 2011. Jamie is currently playing with Riga Dynamo of the KHL. Lundmark played great in his junior years, he just hasn’t faired quite as well in professional hockey.

Bryan McCabe, This 220 lbs. defenseman had his best years with Toronto reaching 68 points at one point in his career. Once he was traded to Florida his career started to fall down. His point totals started to drop and then again was traded, this time to the New York Rangers. He then became a free agent after his 19 game stint in New York and is currently still a free agent. In his late thirties you can expect to see him retiring within the next few years if he doesn’t find any teams to sign with.

Fredrik Modin, This 14 year veteran played for 6 teams including Tampa Bay, the team he won his only Stanley Cup with in 03/04. Modin supassed 50 points three times and 30 goals twice. Modin represented Sweden at the Olympics twice and has gone to one NHL All Star Game in 2001. Fredrik was traded  from Atlanta to Calgary on Feb. 28, 2011 and then retired that same year on May 19, 2011. Modin played just under 900 NHL games and picked up 462 points.

Ethan Moreau, Ethan was never anything special but the former captain of the Edmonton Oilers was waived on in June 2010 by the Oil. Moreau was drafted by Chicago in 1994 and has played 13 NHL seasons. Moreau was eventually claimed by Columbus in June 2010 and played 37 games with them before signing with Los Angeles in August 20 2011. Moreau has played 28 games this year for the Kings and is currently with the L.A. farm team in Manchester. Moreau who is born on September 22, the same day as me, is 36 and probably close to retirement. Ethan has 283 career points in 900 games and has over 1000 penalty minutes.

Owen Nolan, Owen has played for 7 teams including the Quebec Nordiques. Nolan has been in 5 NHL All Star Games and has 885 career points. Nolan’s last NHL team was the Minnesota Wild in 09/10. Nolan was then invited to the Vancouver Canucks tryout on August 4, 2011 but failed to make the team. Nolan is currently playing for Zurich of the Swiss league and has 26 points in 24 games. Owen has secured 6 50+ point seasons. Nolan’s career high in goals is 44 in 99/00. Owen had his career years in San Jose and proved to be a reasonable 1st overall draft pick. (In 1990).

Jarkko Ruutu, Ruutu is best known for his antics and penalties. But Ruutu was the victim of a nasty kick from New York Islanders forward Chris Simon. But Ruutu has had his share of misconduct. Jarkko has picked up 1078 penalty minutes in only 652 NHL games. Ruutu has never had more than 30 points but has had 12 goals in a season in 09/10. Ruutu is a fairly good tough guy and 4 teams agree with me. Ruutu has played with Anaheim, Ottawa, Pittsburgh and Vancouver. Ruutu is currently playing with Jokerit Helsinki in a Finnish league and yes, Ruutu has more penalty minutes than games played. 192 PIM- 59 games.

              

                 Jonathan Cheechoo                                                               Ethan Moreau

Cellar Dweller’s

Cellar Dweller’s are players who soak up their NHL career in the minor leagues (AHL). These guys just can’t seem to play in the NHL. So the general manager sends the player down the farm team to be called up later or never again. These guys may dominate in the minors but when they get called up, they just don’t seem to click. I have put together a list of those guys who have passed their prime days or just can’t get called up from the AHL.

Raitis Ivanans, At age 33 and being a fighter Ivanans doesn’t have a whole lot left in him. This Latvian native has only played 281 NHL games and racked up 569 penalty minutes. Raitis only has 18 career points in the NHL and has spent 191 games in the AHL between Hershey, Milwaukee, Hamilton and Abbotsford. In those 191 games since 2011 he has received 583 penalty minutes in the farm system. This veteran is still fighting and taking penalties but his NHL days are even more numbered than before.

Mark Parrish, Parrish is a 35-year-old veteran who has played for 8 different NHL teams and 5 AHL teams Parrish is just playing his last few years with Binghamton of the AHL. Parrish is currently playing on a $650 000 contract. Mark Parrish has 387 career NHL points. His best season was when he had 30 goals and 60 points but that was back in 2002 when he was still pretty young. Parrish was a fairly good leader when he was captain in Minnesota but he is probably going to retire soon.

Nolan Baumgartner, Nolan was drafted 10th overall by the Capitals in the 1994 entry draft. He has only played 143 NHL games and has made his home in the AHL. At 36 Baumgartner has played for Vancouver, Dallas, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Washington. Nolan has spent most of his long career with the Vancouver organization. Baumgartner has 47 career NHL points and 69 career penalty minutes. Nolan is currently with the Chicago Wolves of the AHL and has 13 points in 42 games. Baumgartner is a veteran presence in the dressing room and will not give up.

Sean Avery, Yes, yes, yes, the lovable Sean Avery. Avery is an annoying 32-year-old who has more than 5 times as many NHL penalty minutes than he does points. He has 1533 minutes, that is more than a day in the box! Avery has 90 goals and is currently in the Rangers farm system. Sean has played for only 4 NHL teams but has gone back and forth between NHL and AHL. Avery has played a respectable 580 NHL games since 2001 and will continue to be a pest whether he is playing in the NHL or riding the buses in the AHL.

Wade Redden, What ever happened to good old Wade Redden? Just when we thought he had it going for him in 2005/2006, Redden had a 50 point season. He then signed with the New York Rangers the following year, and has slumped ever since. The 35-year-old defenseman has had a rather good career. He has played for Ottawa and New York and has never had less 22 points in a season until 09/10 when he was in New York. He reached the 15 goal plateau in 03/04 when he had 17 goals. Redden has 450 NHL points and ever since 2010 we haven’t heard much about him. Wade is locked up with the New York franchise until 2014 and makes $6.5 million for two years and then $5 million for the other two. Redden doesn’t even have a goal in the AHL through 30 games. Wade is making a ton of money but not playing like he should be.

      

                 Wade Redden                                                           Mark Parrish