Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 11/18/12 at 02:28 PM ET
from Lucas Aykroyd of IIHF.com,
As things stand, who are the most likely candidates to light up the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia as rookies?
Particularly at forward, defending champion Canada is loaded with young stars that have never competed under the five Olympic rings.
The most obvious candidate is sniper Steven Stamkos, a 2008 World Junior gold medallist and 2009 World Championship silver medallist who is coming off his first 60-goal NHL season last year with the Tampa Bay Lightning. However, John Tavares, who perennially scores a point per game or better for Canada at the Worlds, is also likely to shine in Sochi. And while Claude Giroux hasn’t appeared internationally for Canada since the 2008 World Juniors, you can’t disregard a superb playmaking centre whom Jaromir Jagr said could become the world’s best player when they were teammates with Philadelphia....
For the United States, 2010’s silver medallists, goaltending and defence are key areas where Sochi newcomers could excel. Cory Schneider, who has posted superb statistics while backing up Roberto Luongo with the Vancouver Canucks, could battle Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings for the starting job. (Quick wouldn’t be an Olympic rookie since he was the third goalie in 2010, even though he didn’t play a minute.)...
Host Russia will likely use some 2014 Olympic rookies from the NHL, but more from the KHL. Semyon Varlamov, currently shining with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl after a good run with Colorado last year, is a strong candidate to play in goal after helping the Russians capture Worlds gold (2012) and silver (2010).
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