Speculating on an Amateur U.S. Olympic Hockey Team

Wisconsin's Nic Kerdiles very well could have found himself in Sochi this winter if NHL players hadn't been allowed to compete in this year's Olympics. - Bruce Bennett

What would this year’s U.S. Olympic team look like without NHL players?

Given that the NHL won’t commit to sending its players to the Olympic Games past this season – it was a drawn out battle to even get them to Sochi – it got me thinking, what would a U.S. Olympic team comprised of amateurs look like if fielded this year?

It wasn’t until 1998 that NHL players participated in the Winter Games for the first time, so you don’t have to think back too far for a time when it was amateurs representing their countries. Of course, we all know that it was a group of college kids that delivered the Miracle on Ice for the United States in 1980. So, what would 2014’s version look like? Here’s my best guess:

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Forwards

Johnny Gaudreau (Boston College) – Bill Arnold (Boston College) – Ryan Hartman (Plymouth Whalers)

Kevin Hayes (Boston College) – Nic Kerdiles (Wisconsin) – Riley Barber (Miami (OH))

Ryan Dzingel (Ohio State) – Austin Czarnik (Miami (OH)) – Adam Erne (Quebec Remparts)

Kyle Rau (Minnesota) – Rocco Grimaldi (North Dakota) - Mario Lucia (Notre Dame)

EXTRA: Josh Archibald (Nebraska-Omaha), J.T. Compher (Michigan)

Defensemen

Jake McCabe (Wisconsin) – Steve Santini (Boston College)

Shayne Gostisbehere (Union) – Ian McCoshen (Boston College)

Brady Skjei (Minnesota) - Stephen Johns (Notre Dame)

EXTRA: Mike Reilly (Minnesota), Jason Binkley (Ferris State)

Goaltenders

Connor Hellebuyck (UMass-Lowell)

Jon Gillies (Providence)

Adam Wilcox (Minnesota)

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As Nate Wells pointed out to me, this roster is interesting because it shows how much college hockey has grown since the days of the 1980 team. Back then it was Boston, Minnesota and everyone else. Now, based on this projection, there are 14 NCAA programs that could send representatives to the Olympics, including players from from California, Illinois and New Jersey, to name a few, in addition to the more "traditional" hockey states. In total, 13 states are represented on this roster.

Roster Breakdown by Conference:

Hockey East 9
Big Ten 8
NCHC 4
Major Juniors 2
WCHA 1
ECAC 1

Roster Breakdown by Home State:

Minnesota 6
Illinois 3
California 2
Connecticut 2
Massachusetts 2
Michigan 2
Pennsylvania 2
Wisconsin 2
Florida 1
Maine 1
New Jersey 1
New York 1
Ohio

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What say you? How would this team fare in the Olympics?

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