The list of players for orientation camps for the countries participating in next winter’s Olympic Games at Sochi were released on Monday, and, to no surprise, among the list of American players headed to camp for Team USA was Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard.
Howard was among three Red Wings invited to camp for Team USA, with the other two being defenseman Danny DeKeyser and forward Justin Abdelkader. Among the three, Howard not only has the best chance to make the team, but could be the no. 1 for the U.S. next winter.
Howard was one of six goaltenders invited to the orientation camp, but it remains to be seen who the frontrunners for the gig are. One would have to imagine that Craig Anderson and John Gibson are guys with outside shots, while Ryan Miller isn’t considered a favorite at this point either.
That leaves Cory Schneider and Jonathan Quick as the main competition for the Team USA starting gig. Among that trio, Howard may very well be best suited to start in net for the U.S. He’s been the most consistent in the last couple of years, and was absolutely dynamite in the final stretch of the regular season and in the playoffs.
Schneider has proven a bit inconsistent in his brief time as a starter, while Quick struggled mightily in his first season since winning a Stanley Cup. Howard rose to an elite level during the 2013 season, and has proven consistent the couple of years. At this point, though, it might be too early to declare him a starter for the United States.
One would have to imagine that the starting job will come down to Howard and Quick. If Quick reaches the level he’s capable of, as we’ve seen in the last couple of years, it’s hard to see him not starting, but a goaltending duo for the United States that doesn’t include Jimmy Howard would be a gigantic surprise.