In September, USA Hockey officials said this fall’s Deutschland Cup tournament would provide a glimpse of how the U.S. Olympic men’s hockey team will look in the post-NHL era. Wednesday, the organization named a 29-player roster rich with Minnesota connections.
The team for the Deutschland Cup, which will be Nov. 10-12 in Augsburg, Germany, comprises mostly Americans playing for pro leagues in Europe. Minnesota natives Ryan Stoa (Bloomington), Mark Stuart (Rochester), Tom Gilbert (Bloomington), Dan Sexton (Apple Valley) and Mike Lundin (Burnsville) are on the roster, as is Ryan Malone, a former St. Cloud State forward who attended the Wild’s training camp on a professional tryout and is playing for the Iowa Wild of the AHL.
Lundin, Gilbert, Jonathon Blum and Robbie Earl all spent part of their NHL careers with the Wild. Stoa was an All-American for the Gophers, and Malone, Garrett Roe and Ryan Lasch played at St. Cloud State.
The NHL announced in April that its players will not participate in the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Olympic coach Tony Granato said he plans to build the 25-player Winter Games roster around a core of Europe-based pros, supplemented by some college and AHL players. The Deutschland Cup will help determine the base of the Olympic roster.
“We’ll get a pretty good idea at that tournament of what we have,” Granato said last month. “From that tournament, we’ll probably have a pretty good chunk of our team that will be with us moving forward, then we’ll fill in with the college players and players here in the minors.
“We’ll play with a lot of passion. We’re going to have a team the American people and hockey fans will be proud of.”
The roster named Wednesday includes 21 players with NHL experience and 27 who are playing professionally in Russia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany. Malone played in the 2010 Olympics, and Brian Gionta played at the 2006 Winter Games. The players range in age from 26 (goalie Brandon Maxwell) to 38 (Gionta), with an average age of 31.
The U.S. will play Russia, Slovakia and Germany in the Deutschland Cup, its only pre-Olympic tournament. The Olympic roster — which could include Wild prospect Jordan Greenway, who now plays for Boston University — will be announced around Jan. 1.