In case you haven't noticed there's a big gaping hole in the 2013-14 NHL schedule from February 9th thru the 25th. And the reason for that? The Olympics of course.
On Friday, the NHL announced that an agreement has been reached with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to secure participation of NHL players in the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
And as in past years, the Rangers should be well represented.
Ryan Lambert at Puck Daddy thinks that Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan and Ryan McDonagh will all be headed to Sochi for Team USA.
Lambert previously left Stepan and McDonagh off the roster in a projection earlier this year.
Chris Peters at CBS Sports says Callahan is his favorite to become Team USA captain.
…despite last season's success, Stepan is still making a name for himself in the NHL, so while I agree with Lambert that he should make the team, I'm not 100% confident we'll see him in the line-up every night.
…the only guy I can see giving Callahan a run for captain is Dustin Brown. Either would be a tremendous pick.
…got to wonder if there's any chance Kreider gets a look if he tears it up this season.
Here's Callahan on raised expectations for Team USA after last Olympic's surprising silver medal finish (via NHL.com)…
"Obviously we weren't maybe looked at as a contender last time, or at least as highly as we are going to be next year, but as a team that doesn't change your goal, that doesn't change what you want to achieve over there," Callahan said. "We're not going to surprise anybody. From the outside those expectations are going to be there. But with the group of guys that we eventually put together, it's going to be a lot of mature players, a lot of players who have obviously been there before and have had success at the NHL level with expectations and with pressure on them. The group as a whole will be able to handle it."
Meanwhile, TSN revealed their early projections for Team Canada with Rick Nash and the "offensive-minded" Dan Girardi making the squad.
While Harrison Mooney at Puck Daddy also includes Nash, but leaves out Girardi.
Marc Staal, who had been in Mooney's previous predictions, is not on either list.
…first off, what the hell is TSN doing calling Girardi an "offensive-minded" player? You think they meant someone else?
…as far as Staal goes, his performance this season will have everything to do with whether or not he makes the team. If his eye heals properly and he's the Staal of old, I think he makes the team. However, if he struggles to adapt to his compromised vision then I think he'll be watching from his couch.
Back in June, the Swedish Hockey Federation released its Olympic training camp roster with Henrik Lundqvist, Carl Hagelin and prospect Oscar Lindberg getting an invite.
…got to admit, I'm real impressed to see Lindberg get invited to camp. While he's likely a long shot to make the team, he should be real proud to at least be attending camp. Great experience for the youngster.
And obviously Mats Zuccarello will be a member of the Norweigan team.