It never phased me for a minute that Blake Wheeler would be named to USA Hockey's roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
And that, my friends, is because General Manager David Poile is a very astute manager of talent.
The Winnipeg Jets' forward has been among the highest scoring American forwards in each of the last three years, registering 136 points in 170 games since the 2011-12 season. His career average .635 points per game rank him eleventh of all active American born scorers, higher than teammates David Backes, Dustin Brown, Max Pacioretty and James van Riemsdyk.
At the conclusion of today's NHL Winter Classic, a rousing game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings that ended on a Tyler Bozak shootout winner, the entire USA roster was announced. Here it is, in all its glory:
|Jimmy Howard||Syracuse, N.Y.||Detroit Red Wings|
|Ryan Miller||East Lansing, Mich.||Buffalo Sabres|
|Jonathan Quick||Milford, Conn.||Los Angeles Kings|
|John Carlson||Colonia, N.J.||Washington Capitals|
|Justin Faulk||South St. Paul, Minn.||Carolina Hurricanes|
|Cam Fowler||Farmington Hills, Mich.||Anaheim Ducks|
|Paul Martin||Minneapolis, Minn.||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Ryan McDonagh||St. Paul, Minn.||New York Rangers|
|Brooks Orpik||San Francisco, Calif.||Pittsburgh Penguins|
|Kevin Shattenkirk||New Rochelle, N.Y.||St. Louis Blues|
|Ryan Suter||Madison, Wis.||Minnesota Wild|
|David Backes||Minneapolis, Minn.||St. Louis Blues|
|Dustin Brown||Ithaca, N.Y.||Los Angeles Kings|
|Ryan Callahan||Rochester, N.Y.||New York Rangers|
|Patrick Kane||Buffalo, N.Y.||Chicago Blackhawks|
|Ryan Kesler||Livonia, Mich.||Vancouver Canucks|
|Phil Kessel||Madison, Wis.||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|T.J. Oshie||Warroad, Minn.||St. Louis Blues|
|Max Pacioretty||New Canaan, Conn.||Montreal Canadiens|
|Zach Parise||Minneapolis, Minn.||Minnesota Wild|
|Joe Pavelski||Plover, Wis.||San Jose Sharks|
|Paul Stastny||St. Louis, Mo.||Colorado Avalanche|
|Derek Stepan||Hastings, Minn.||New York Rangers|
|James van Riemsdyk||Middletown, N.J.||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|Blake Wheeler||Robbinsdale, Minn.||Winnipeg Jets|
The 6'5" power forward from Robbinsdale, Minnesota edged out bubble players such as Bobby Ryan, Kyle Okposo, Jason Pominville and Brandon Dubinsky for the right to represent his country at this years Olympic Games.
Wheeler's inclusion is a monumental one for fans of the Jets' who get to see one of their own on hockey's grandest stage. Sorry, Ondrej Pavelec but being named the starter of the Czech Republic national team is like being the richest person at the homeless shelter since the retirement of Dominik Hasek.
On a more dour note, defenceman Dustin Byfuglien was not among those selected by David Poile, something we will tackle in another article.
Under the direction of Dan Bylsma, USA Hockey will start their quest towards Olympic gold Thursday, February 13, 2014 against the Slovaks.
Tell us your thoughts on Blake Wheeler being named a 2014 Olympian.