The 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang, South Korea will be different than the games we’ve seen in recent history; specifically in terms of men’s hockey. While the event has typically featured the best players on the planet from across multiple leagues, the NHL’s decision to keep their players out of the tournament has led to some controversy among players and fans alike. Still, as the old saying goes, the show must go on. For the United States, a roster still had to be made despite NHL players not being available.
While teams representing the United States have been a “who’s who” of hockey in recent years, the 2018 roster will feature a roster of “who’s that?” more than anything. While it’s not identical to the projection that was made on THW, it does feature many of the same names. The United States certainly won’t be the only team affected by the NHL’s lack of participation in the Olympics, but they have undoubtedly been hit as hard as anybody. Still, the Olympic roster was announced during the second intermission of the 2018 Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres – a roster featuring former NHL players, future NHL players and everybody in between.
USA’s Final Olympic Roster
Forwards: Mark Arcobello, Chris Bourque, Bobby Butler, Ryan Donato, Brian Gionta, Jordan Greenway, Chad Kolarik, Broc Little, John McCarty, Brian O’Neill, Garret Roe, Jim Slater, Ryan Stoa, Troy Terry
Defensemen: Chad Billins, Will Borgen, Matt Gilroy, Ryan Gunderson, Bobby Sanguinetti, Noah Welch, James Wisniewski
Goalies: Ryan Zapolski (and two more goalies to be announced at a later date).
Introducing the 2018 U.S. Olympic Men’s, Women’s & Paralympic Sled rosters! #TeamUSA ??
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) January 1, 2018
“We really like our roster,” said Jim Johnson, general manager of the 2018 USA Men’s Olympic Team and the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA hockey. “It’s a group that brings versatility and experience and includes players who have a lot of passion about representing our country.”
The roster features a bevy of players from all walks of hockey – some of whom have had long careers in the NHL, receiving multiple accolades in the process, some who have played in the NHL for a far less significant amount of time but who made it to the world’s top league nonetheless and finally, some of the world’s best hockey prospects in the form of Ryan Donato, Jordan Greenway and Troy Terry to name a few.
Brian Gionta Set to Captain the USA at the Olympics
The most obvious choice for captain of the United States roster was forward Brian Gionta. Not only is he one of the most decorated hockey players on the entire roster, but he also has a history of being a captain at the NHL level. Once the captain of the Boston College Screaming Eagles, Gionta led his collegiate team to a national championship in the 2000-01 season. He went on to become the captain of the Montreal Canadiens in 2010 – only the second American captain of the Canadiens since Chris Chelios wore the “C”. In his most recent stint in the NHL, Gionta found himself captaining the Buffalo Sabres.
Aside from his experience and leadership, Gionta made a name for himself as an excellent hockey player, scoring upwards of 20 goals in seven consecutive seasons with the New Jersey Devils and Montreal Canadiens from 2003-04 until 2010-11 despite being undersized at 5 foot 7 and 178 pounds. Gionta’s best season came in 2005-06, his fourth season in the NHL, when he scored an astounding 48 goals and 89 points in 82 games. Gionta also found himself representing the United States at the Olympics in 2006 and has a history of performing when his team needs it most.
Gionta has scored 289 goals and 588 points in 1,006 NHL games while also adding 32 goals and 68 points in 112 postseason NHL contests in his career. The soon-to-be 39-year-old will get a chance to prove once again that he can play hockey at its highest level, Gionta will get a chance to show the world that the United States can still compete despite the NHL refusing to send its players to compete.