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USA Hockey calls Byfuglien a ‘wild card’


USA Hockey invited Winnipeg Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien to its evaluation camp on Monday, but American Olympic team GM David Poile admitted to the Winnipeg Free Press that the hybrid blueliner is something of an unknown commodity.

“I have to choose my words wisely. He’s a bit of a wild card,” Poile said on Tuesday. “He’s never participated in any USA Hockey tournaments. Our committee doesn’t know him as well as some of the other guys and we want to get to know him a bit. He’s a tremendous talent. The decision will come down to how he plays in October, November and December. We’ll be watching him closely.”

There are plenty of possible problems regarding Byfuglien, from rumors about his weight to questions about his defensive acumen.

Still, the 28-year-old brings the kind of size, shot and versatility that few players - let alone Americans - can offer. The team can even use him as a forward, as the Chicago Blackhawks did in their 2010 Stanley Cup run.

Byfuglien ranks among the many players whose Olympic hopes likely rest on a few months of the 2013-14 season, making him that much more captivating to watch.

(H/T to Rotoworld.)