The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the most represented teams in Sochi, with 10 of their players participating on Olympic rosters as the men’s tournament is about to get underway.
Some of the guys, like Michal Handzus (Slovakia) and Marcus Kruger (Sweden) will be playing largely complementary roles, but there are plenty of others who will be integral to the success of their team. The question we have though is this: which of the Blackhawks’ players in Sochi is the most instrumental to their team?
Patrick Kane has to be one of the foremost contenders for that title, as he is arguably Team USA’s best player. He is second in the NHL among American-born players with 63 points on the season, and he is tied for the league lead among Americans in power play tallies with 10. Add in the 13 assists he has on the man-advantage, and he is definitely going to be a big catalyst on the power play for the Americans.
On Team Canada, there are several Hawks who could claim to be the most valuable member of the team. Duncan Keith is arguably the Great White North’s best defenseman, and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is one of Canada’s alternate captains. Both players bring some serious offensive upside to the party, and both have won defensive awards for their respective positions (Toews the Selke, Keith the Norris).
For Slovakia, Marian Hossa is the best forward on their team and arguably their best player period, vying for the distinction with Zdeno Chara. He is their leading scorer by a country mile, and is quickly approaching both 500 career NHL goals and 1000 career points in the league.
Finally, you have the Swedes, who are paced on their blue line by a pair of dynamite Blackhawks. Niklas Hjalmarsson provides some nice offensive punch on the back end with his excellent passing skills, and he also is one of the most responsible defensemen in the league, so he should be a huge asset on the bigger Olympic ice surface.
Despite being limited a bit by injury, Johnny Oduya will also be a key contributor on both sides of the ice as well. His defensive skills aren’t quite on par with Hjalmarsson’s, but he is a perfect complement to his fellow Swede on the blue line, and the duo will likely be paired together in Sochi.
With all of those things in mind, the guy that is most important to his team in Sochi is Hossa. Yes, Kane is one of the best players on Team USA, but even if he isn’t scoring, there are guys like Zach Parise and Phil Kessel to pick up the slack. For Slovakia, if Hossa isn’t scoring, their other good options include unproven commodities like Tomas Tatar, and with Marian Gaborik on the shelf, Hossa’s value becomes even more crucial.
What do you think Blackhawks fans? Is Hossa the most valuable Blackhawk in Sochi, or is there another player who is more crucial to their team’s medal chances? Let us know in the comments below.