Team USA General Manager and architect Dean Lombardi was recently in the news saying that the Americans require better leadership than in their Olympic Showing.
Hilarious since it was Lombardi’s own Dustin Brown serving as Captain for the doomed USA team that fell short of a medal. From Puck Daddy:
So in speaking about Team USA for the World Cup of Hockey next September in Toronto, Lombardi specifically mentioned three players that will have to know it’s their team now: Zach Parise and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild, and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers.
Like the other teams in the tournament, Team USA has to release its first 16 players by March 1. Lombardi hinted that the fact there’s a North American “young stars” team hurts Team USA a bit, with several names that could have made his club relegated to that under-24 team.
“Some of the best players aren’t going to be qualified [to play for us],” he said. “I think there’s a definite trend towards having a bit of a turnover. Not only with the [young] players but with the players that will be back in assuming more hands-on leadership role. I think that’s one of the things that we learned from the last team. I’m not sure some of those top players realized it’s now their team, it’s their responsibility to take over. So there’s a transition there as well in terms of new faces.”
We will look at 5 candidates for Captain on Thursday.
USA Today’s Kevin Allen took a peek at the best bets on the wing for the Americans. He’s also high on Wheeler–just like us. We ranked him as the fourth best American forward. From Allen’s article:
“(Wheeler) is one of the best athletes in the NHL,” McGuire said. “His board play and ability to get to the net makes him a true offensive force.”
Wheeler has scored 54 goals over the past two full seasons, and with eight goals is on a 40-goal pace this season. He’s 29, but it feels as if he is just entering his prime.
“The kid is a late bloomer,” said his agent, Matt Keator. “I still think he is figuring out how to use his size and speed to his advantage on a consistent basis. You could see over the past two seasons his game just turning the corner.”
Enjoy one of Wheeler’s finer performances below.