When former Capitals and current Nashville Predators general manager David Poile made his 48 selections for Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp international experience weighed heavily in his decision-making.
That, at least in part, is why Capitals defenseman John Carlson received an invitation to be at Kettler Capitals Iceplex for the two-day orientation Aug. 26-27.
“You're looking for people that have had success," Poile, the general manager of Team USA, said after announcing his invitees.
“That's No. 1. The good thing about this is that I think 30 of the 48 players that we're inviting to camp have won gold medals at some level of international hockey.
“So we've got guys that have played a lot internationally. Again, you always look at guys that have won, where they've won, who they played with, all those types of situations."
Carlson’s success in the 2010 World Hockey Championships is well documented. He scored two goals, including the overtime game-winner, in Team USA’s thrilling 6-5 win over Canada in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
“I’m really happy for Carly,” said Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner, who was invited to Team Canada’s Olympic Orientation camp in Calgary, “but I don’t want him scoring any game-winners against us.”
Four of Carlson’s teammates on that 2010 gold medal-winning team – forwards Kyle Palmieri [Anaheim Ducks] and Derek Stepan [New York Rangers], and defensemen Cam Fowler [Anaheim] and Jake Gardiner [Toronto] have been invited to Team USA’s orientation camp.
But those 23- and 24-year-olds are not the youngest group of Olympic hopefuls on Team USA’s invitation list.
Three of the invitees are teenagers – defensemen Seth Jones, 18, and Jacob Trouba, 19, and forward Alex Galchenyk, 19 – and were teammates at last year’s World Junior Championships.
Carlson will have some very stiff competition on the American blue line, but his skating ability and power play experience could give him advantage. So could an ice surface that will be 15 feet wider than NHL rinks.
Poile is expected to carry eight or nine defenseman on his Olympic roster and the front-runners to represent the U.S. in Sochi include Jack Johnson [Columbus], Ryan Suter [Minnesota], Ryan McDonagh [Rangers], Justin Faulk [Carolina], Paul Martin [Pittsburgh], Kevin Shattenkirk [St. Louis], Keith Yandle [Phoenix Coyotes], Erik Johnson [Colorado] and Brooks Orpik [Pittsburgh].
Carlson joins a list of bubble defensemen that includes Zach Bogosian [Winnipeg], Dustin Byfuglien [Winnipeg], Danny DeKeyser [Detroit], Cam Fowler [Anaheim], Gardiner, Jones, Nick Leddy [Chicago] and Trouba.
Poile will announce his selections sometime around Christmas.
“We are going to make our decision based on who's been playing best and who deserves to be on the team," he said. "That's why our scouting component with our committee and with our coaches, what we see in October, November and the first part of December, is going to be the most important aspect as to making our final decisions."
Who are your picks for the Team USA blue line?