A little background: two years ago, my greatest hope for a Capital at the upcoming Olympics was for Mike Green to make Canada and acquit himself (since I naturally favor North American squads over others, a product of my birth in DC). More recently it's become John Carlson repeating his World Junior Championship heroics from Saskatoon (two goals in the final, including the overtime winner) in Sochi. I got thinking about how many players the Capitals might be sending to Russia that winter (I don't see the players giving up the privilege of going in the next CBA) and realized that the New York Rangers may be icing more Olympians than any other team.
Consider that Marian Gaborik, if he is still around, is a lock for Slovakia, as is Henrik Lundqvist for Sweden. In the "likely" category go Artem Anismov for Russia, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky for USA, and Tim Erixon for Sweden (they'll have a young blueline: I see Edler and the youngsters Hedman, Erixon, Ekman Larsson, Rundblad, and maybe Larsson making the team). In the "can't count them out but can't count on them either" category I see Marc Staal for Canada, Brad Richards for Canada, Derek Stepan/Ryan McDonagh/Mike Sauer for USA, and Pavel Valatenko for Russia (they are really thin on defense while deeper than ever up front). If we count all the locks, three fourths of the likelys, and one fourth of the unlikelys, that makes 6.5 Olympians. Compare that to roughly five for Pittsburgh (Crosby, Malkin, Staal, Letang, Martin, Orpik, Fleury) and Washington (Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin though he may be gone by that time, Green, Neuvirth, Kuznetsov, Carlson, Orlov) and Philadelphia (Giroux, van Riemsdyk, Schenn, Couturier, Carle, Meszaros, Bobrovsky, Bryzgalov), four for Vancouver (the Sedins, Kesler, Edler, Luongo) and for Detroit (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Kronwall, Howard, Tatar). Anaheim and San Jose, if memory serves, led NHL squads in terms of sending players to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Games, Anaheim sending Ryan, Perry, Getzlaf, Niedermayer, Hiller, and Selanne, and San Jose sending Marleau, Thornton, Heatley, Boyle, Nabokov, and Pavelski. By this crude metric, the Rangers should be among the elite teams in three years. That makes sense: there is plenty of youth and depth, but no rising superstars that will require a huge payday in the near future (a la Stamkos).The window is open.