Three Pittsburgh Penguins players have been invited to tryout for Team USA — Beau Bennett, Paul Martin, and Brooks Orpik.
But what are the odds Bennett makes the roster?
The American squad longs for young talent to fill their lineup; however, Bennett barely has enough NHL experience, and little international familiarity.
His background in representing Team USA comes from when he competed in the World Junior A Challenge and collected a gold medal — but that also wasn’t against players that ranged from ages 20-to-40.
Sure he was performing against skaters whom boasted an impressive repertoire, but they also were all under-20, signifying that there were only a handful of premier talents to what the 2014 Winter Olympics will have in store for him.
His chances on making this years USA roster are greater and lesser than others.
With Dan Bylsma and Tony Granato already listed as Team USA’ head coach and assistant coach respectively, they know how Bennett plays due to their ties in Pittsburgh.
This could either mean he has a favorable shot at making it because both coaches know what he’s capable of, or it could suggest that they know too much about him, presaging they know if he’s ready for this type of competition.
The top nine forwards assumed to be penciled onto Team USA’s roster are Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, T.J. Oshie, Max Pacioretty, Zach Parise, and Bobby Ryan.
That’s excluding Kyle Okposo, Joe Pavelski, Brandon Saad, Paul Stastny, Derek Stepan, James van Riemsdyk, and Blake Wheeler — which are all solid skaters.
Of course, just because they are well-renowned hockey players, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are a lock to make the roster — it’s all in how well they fit to the style Team USA plans to implement.
Bennett, 21, has just as much contingency as the next guy — although, because he’s spent such little time in the NHL, the prospects on him landing a roster spot are slimmer than others.
As I’ve referenced before, he’s got a better shot at making the team because of the abundance in Pittsburgh staff running the show — so in the end it’s just going to come down to how well his tryout is.
Should he perform consistently and effortlessly mesh with his teammates, young Bennett just might have a positive outlook.
He’s got stiff competition and it’ll be close, but hopefully he gets the opportunity to represent his country this upcoming February.
In 26 regular-season contests for the Pens last season, Bennett recorded 14 points (3G, 11A) and skated to a respectable plus-7 rating.
Playing in six postseason games, he scored one goal — the first tally for Pittsburgh in Game one of the opening round against the New York Islanders — and skated to a plus-2 rating.
Before he was called up, Bennett registered 28 points (7G, 21A) for the WBS Pens, and he was selected to the play in the AHL All-Star Classic.