If you ever poke around at the new SBNation.com (and if you don't, then what are you doing with your life?), you've no doubt noticed SBN Hockey's running feature over the last week or so. Each site on the network has taken a look at their respective team, noting which players are locks to make their national teams and which players have outside chances at traveling to Vancouver next month.
While most of the Flyers are Canadian -- seriously, it's absurd the number of Canadians on this roster -- and will have trouble cracking a stacked roster, there are some who will make it. Of course, there are also other players who will make the squad in other countries, and you might be surprised at who has a shot.
After the jump, we'll break down the Flyers roster and see who has a chance at representing their country in Vancouver this February.
The pressure is on for the host country. After a disappointing showing in 2006 at Turin that saw Canada come home without a medal, anything less than the gold will be unacceptable north of the border.
- Chris Pronger: There's absolutely no doubt that Pronger will be representing Canada in Vancouver. He's an experienced Olympian, winning the gold with Canada at Salt Lake City in 2002. He also played for his country in the 2006 Turin games and the 1998 Nagano games, as well as in the 1997 World Championships and the 1993 World Junior Championships. Pronger, along with former Anaheim teammate Scott Niedermayer, will be expected to lead the Canadian blueline. Packing His Bags.
- Mike Richards: It's hard to see how Canada could keep Richards off the roster. The captain of the Canadian team that won the World Junior Championship in 2005, Richards has played internationally on three different occasions. Packing His Bags.
- Jeff Carter: While not as strong a lock as Richards, Carter still has a very strong shot at making the team this year. He's versatile, obviously proven in the NHL, and he's got international experience, winning the WJC gold with Richards in '05. A Solid Bet.
- Simon Gagne: It appears that Gagne will be held out by injury. He was probably about as likely to make the team as Carter prior to sustaining his injury during the Flyers season, but considering he won't be playing hockey when Team Canada announces their roster this month, it's hard to imagine Gagne will get another chance to represent his country. It's a shame, too, considering he played for Canada in the 2006 and 2002 Games. Staying Home.
- Also staying home: Arron Asham, Blair Betts, Danny Briere, Dan Carcillo, Riley Cote, Claude Giroux, Ray Emery, Scott Hartnell, Ian Laperriere, Jon Kalinski, Darroll Powe, Braydon Coburn, Ryan Parent
USA is expected to ice a much younger team than they have in recent Olympic games. Only six players over the age of 30 were invited to their summer camp, and there's no guarantee that all of those players will make the team. Guys like Chris Chelios, Keith Tkachuk, and Brian Rolston were left out of camp as general manager Brian Burke tries to create a younger team that can bring USA Hockey back to the summit.
There are only three Americans on the Flyers roster. They'll announce the roster on NBC during the Winter Classic.
- James van Riemsdyk: JVR wasn't invited to USA's summer camp and he wasn't even expected to make the Flyers this season. But to say the 19-year-old has been impressive in the early stages of his pro career is an understatement, and there's no doubt he's at least opened some eyes with the USA brass. Will that get him a roster spot, though? It's tough to say. It's true that the youth movement on the team is here to stay, but it might be a little too early for JVR. He's got a lot of other players to beat out, but he deserves consideration and he'll likely get it. 50/50.
- Matt Carle: He wasn't invited to the summer orientation camp either, but when you lead NHL defenseman in plus/minus, you'll open some eyes as well. He'd be a dark horse candidate for sure, and he could be dismissed as a player padded by playing with Chris Pronger. But when you look at some of the other players that attended the summer camp -- Tom Gilbert, Ron Hainsey, Mike Komisarek, Paul Martin, Brooks Orpik, -- you could see Carle getting a spot over some of those guys. A Possibility.
- Staying home: Brian Boucher
Led by goaltender Antero Niittymaki, Finland won the silver medal at Turin in 2006, beating Canada in the process. They aren't favorites to medal in Vancouver, but to say they couldn't surprise would be severely underestimating the Fins.
- Kimmo Timonen: Kimmo is an absolute lock for Team Finland. He's their best defenseman, no doubt. There's really not much else to say. He's to Finland as he is to the Flyers -- a solid rock of a defenseman that can be counted on to play huge minutes. Packing His Bags.
- Mika Pyorala: He made the preliminary roster over the summer, and making the Flyers certainly helps his chances to make the Olympic roster. He's not a lock at this point, but general manager Jari Kurri has been to Philadelphia to watch Pyorala play and has said good things about his play -- "he's a smart player at both ends of the ice," "you know what you are getting with him." Solid endorsements. Wouldn't Be Surprised.
Former Flyers To Watch: Antero Niittymaki, Joni Pitkanen, Ossi Vaananen, Sami Kapanen
Probably the weakest team in the Olympics, NHL.com didn't even bother to preview them in their series over the summer. It's understandable, though. They have very little NHL talent on their roster, but one of those players does play for Philadelphia.
Oskars Bartulis: Even as an AHL player, Bartulis was one of the best Latvian players in North America. Now that he's in the NHL and playing solidly, it seems as though Bartulis will suit up for his country in February. He's played in pre-tournament games for Latvia, but didn't play in the World Championships. Things have changed now that he's made the jump to the NHL, and you can be sure that the Latvian brass won't let Bartulis go unnoticed. A Strong Bet.
They surprised by qualifying for Olympics, but could they stage an upset or two? There is only one Norwegian in the NHL. He plays in Philadelphia.
- Ole-Kristian Tollefsen: Tollefsen has been injured for most of the season, but he is expected to be fine by February, so it would be an utter shock if he wasn't named to Team Norway. Packing His Bags.
- Former Flyers To Watch: Patrick Thoresen
Former Flyers To Watch: Peter Forsberg