Three members of the Detroit Red Wings heard their names included on the list of invitees to Team USA‘s Olympic orientation camp, and while two players were likely expecting the call, one should be surprised to hear his name added to the list. Goaltender Jimmy Howard was a no-brainer to be invited to camp thanks to his consistent performance during the 2013 season, and forward Justin Abdelkader put himself on the radar by elevating his game in the lockout-shortened season. The third Red Wing with a chance to join the team in Sochi is defenseman Danny DeKeyser, who has only appeared in 11 NHL games. That makes his inclusion a bit surprising, and also shows that Team USA could be looking to the future with a fresher, younger team.
Howard won 21 games during the regular season, and deserves a lot of credit for helping the Red Wings reach the postseason. He elevated his game in the playoffs, and had his team on the verge of reaching the conference finals despite getting little help from the defense in front of him. He’ll likely be battling Jonathan Quick for the starting job, with Cory Schneider, Ryan Miller, John Gibson and Craig Anderson also in the mix.
Abdelkader’s ability to play a strong physical game on the offensive end gives him a decent chance to make the squad. He was a member of Team USA at the 2012 World Championship and scored a career-high 10 goals in 48 games last season. DeKeyser joined the Wings after finishing his junior season at Western Michigan University and impressed with his skating ability. A thumb injury cut his time in Detroit short, but he was able to join the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL for their playoff run after he healed, and won a Calder Cup championship in the process. He won’t be the only young defenseman at the camp either, as Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg Jets), Seth Jones (Nashville Predators) and Nick Leddy (Chicago Blackhawks) are among the other invitees.
The Red Wings have always been well represented at the Olympics, and while they may not have any players on Team Canada’s roster, they will be prominently featured on Team Sweden and should land at least one of these three players on Team USA’s roster.