USA Hockey revealed its roster for the upcoming Deutschland Cup on Wednesday, the best indication so far of what the American Olympic team will look like without NHL players.
The 29-player roster includes former NHL forwards Brian Gionta, Ryan Malone and Mark Arcobello and defensemen Mark Stuart and Tom Gilbert. The three U.S. goaltenders are all playing in Europe: Ryan Zapolski, David Leggio and Brandon Maxwell.
General manager Jim Johannson called it a ”great mix of players” from varied backgrounds with different levels of experience, both internationally and professionally.
”There’s a lot of guys here that know how to play and have been successful players and have found a niche for themselves in their career at various stages,” Johannson told The Associated Press by phone. ”The Deutschland Cup for us is a little bit to find some separation of these guys, whether that’s pure pace of play or performance.”
The U.S. plays Slovakia, Russia and Germany at the tournament in Augsburg from Nov. 10-12. The Deutschland Cup will provide the basis for the U.S. team at the Winter Olympics in South Korea in February.
”There’s some elite players … that will represent us well,” coach Tony Granato said recently. ”It’s our job as coaches to make sure that not only is it picking the team and getting the right players there, but it’s about communicating with them along the way to make sure that when they get there, they know what’s expected of them and how we want to play.”
Among those on the roster are 2006 first-round pick Bobby Sanguinetti, 2009 Hobey Baker Award-winner Matt Gilroy and recent NHL players Drew Shore, Andy Miele, Jim Slater and Mike Lundin.
”That’s kind of my first step to starting the process,” said Sanguinetti, a one-time New York Rangers defenseman who’s now playing in Switzerland. ”It’s exciting to be on the radar. Obviously it’s not the same with the NHL guys not going, but it’s still a huge honor to be able to play in the Olympics and represent your country.”
Former NHL forward Nathan Gerbe, who’s playing in Switzerland, and 29-year-old Rhett Rakhshani didn’t make the cut. Johannson said it was difficult paring down to 29 and hasn’t ruled out anyone on the list of 81 eligible players USA Hockey submitted at the beginning of the month.
”I emailed a big group of players that are playing in Europe today saying this isn’t the end for them,” Johannson said. ”It’s the first part of our process.”
Johannson said there are 12-15 players in the American Hockey League and about a dozen playing NCAA hockey who are on the U.S. list and being considered. That includes the University of Denver’s Troy Terry and Boston University’s Jordan Greenway, who helped the U.S. win gold at the world junior championship last year.
”We got a big book on both those guys,” Johannson said. ”We’ll use the Deutschland Cup to say, `You know what, there’s a pretty high level of comfort in these areas, and now where do some of these other players fit into it?’ Certainly those are two of the guys that will be factored into those decisions.”
Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno
For more AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey