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Projecting Caps who could play in the World Cup

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Projecting Caps who could play in the World Cup

The NHL’s alternative to the Olympics begins next year with the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Team USA named Los Angeles Kings general manager Dean Lombardi as their general manager which means it’s time to start thinking about who may make the rosters.

USA Today published a projection of USA’s lineup on Thursday that included both Brooks Orpik and John Carlson. While most CSN readers will be cheering on USA, ultimately we know your hearts are with the Caps so let’s have a look at which Caps players could be selected to play for their country next summer.

Team USA

T.J. Oshie

A notable snub from USA Today’s list. Could USA really leave the lone bright spot from Sochi out of the World Cup? As loaded as the team may be on the right side (think Phil Kessel, Kyle Okposo, Patrick Kane), I believe Oshie will thrive playing next to Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin. He may not be a top line player for the U.S., but I believe he will play his way onto the team with a strong campaign this season.

My guess: He’s in

John Carlson

Carlson was selected to USA’s Olympic team in 2014 and played well with one goal and one assist. After an impressive 2014-15 season, there’s no reason to think Carlson would not be included on the World Cup roster especially when you consider his role is likely to increase on the power play for the Caps with the departure of Mike Green.

My guess: He’s in

Matt Niskanen

I love what he brings to the Caps. The combination of Niskanen and Karl Alzner is a phenomenal second pair. I don’t think it’s enough to make the squad. He’s good enough to garner consideration, but I don’t give him much of a shot.

My guess: He’s out

Brooks Orpik

He got a nod from USA Today, but I’m not so sure. He played well in his first season with the Caps and if he repeats that this year, he certainly deserves consideration, but there’s also a question of if he will want to play. At this point, we don’t know how the NHL players are going to react to the World Cup. Will they embrace it as a major international tournament or will they reject it as a gimmick? As the tournament will be held in September, just before the NHL regular season, it is not crazy to think a player who will turn 36 in 2016 may want to rest especially if the Caps make a lengthy playoff run.

My guess: He’s out

RELATED: Hershey Bears release preseason schedule

Team Canada

Karl Alzner

The problem for Alzner is not that he’s not a great defenseman. He is. The problem is that he happens to be from Canada, a nation with the best collection of hockey players in the world. It’s hard to crack a roster that will include players like Duncan Keith, Shea Webber and P.K. Subban.

My guess: He’s out

Braden Holtby

Despite how little attention Holtby gets for his phenomenal play, another season like he had last year will make him impossible to ignore. I don’t see him starting, that job is Carey Price’s to lose at this point, but Mike Smith was Canada’s third goalie in Sochi. You can’t tell me Smith has done more since then to warrant a spot over Holtby. There’s going to be a lot of competition, but Holtby has just been playing too well.

My guess: He’s in

Team Russia

Evgeny Kuznetsov

This one is a bit hard to predict given we don’t know how many players from the KHL will play. The last thing the KHL will want to do is add legitimacy to an NHL event by allowing all of their players to play in a tournament most of their fans won’t be able to watch live because of the time difference. Kuznetsov broke out in the playoffs last season and if he continues that level of play, he should make the roster regardless. If KHL players turn their noses up at the tournament, then there won't be nearly as much competition making Kuznetsov a shoo-in.

My guess: He’s in

Alex Ovechkin

There’s no point in even discussing this one.

My guess: He’s in

Team Sweden

Nicklas Backstrom

See above explanation for Alex Ovechkin. Just stay away from the allergy medication.

My guess: He’s in

Andre Burakovsky

Burakovsky was born in Austria, but has played for team Sweden in international competitions so this is where he would be considered. Though talented, it will be tough for Burakovsky to crack a roster as loaded as Sweden’s. If the tournament was in 2017, I think he would have a real shot, but I don’t think he will have shown enough at the NHL level to be included in 2016.

My guess: He’s out

Marcus Johansson

Johansson’s inclusion on the roster for Sochi came as a bit of a surprise given how much Swedish talent there is in the NHL. With 20 goals and 27 assists last season, I think he definitely would garner consideration for 2016, but will he have similar numbers next season? This may depend on where he plays. If Johansson plays most of the season on the second line, perhaps he can play his way onto the roster, but his top line days are behind him thanks to Oshie and Justin Williams. Despite making the roster in Sochi, I think this will be an uphill climb.

My guess: He’s out

Team Czech Republic

Jakub Vrana

Vrana had five goals and four assists in the 2015 World IIHF Junior’s tournament. He has all the makings of a future star for the Czech Republic. The problem is he will spend most if not all of the 2015-16 season in the AHL. Will the Czech team really give a roster spot to a player with little or no NHL experience?

My guess: He’s out

Team Under-23 North America

Madison Bowey

Bowey helped lead Canada’s junior team to gold in 2015, which you think would make him a shoo-in for this bizarre under-23 roster. When you begin to look around the NHL, however, it’s shocking how many players who are under 23 have already cracked the big leagues. This is not a negative reflection on Bowey who looks fantastic and has a long NHL career in front of him, but there are plenty of young defensemen in the league who this team will go for before they take the inexperienced Bowey.

My guess: He’s out

MORE CAPITALS: Who will drop the gloves for the Caps this season?

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10 changes that would make the NHL better

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USA TODAY Sports

10 changes that would make the NHL better

Hockey is one of the most incredible, compelling sports in the world. As fun as it is to watch on TV, it is even more compelling in person and fans in North America are treated to the best hockey in the world as played in the NHL.

But the NHL's not perfect.

SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

Just like every sports league, the NHL is always adjusting and making changes to the game in order to improve it through things like rule changes, expansion, playoff formats, etc.

No sport is perfect and hockey is not without its flaws, but there are a number of clear changes that could be made that would improve both the game and the league.

 SEE THE 10 CHANGES THAT WOULD MAKE THE NHL BETTER HERE

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Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Brian MacLellan got his day with the Stanley Cup over the weekend

Washington Capitals GM Brian MacLellan finally got his day. 

Over the weekend, MacLellan played host to the Stanley Cup, taking it home to his offseason house in Minnesota. 

MacLellan brought the Cup to Powderhorn Park, where a youth hockey tournament was being put on by the Herb Brooks Foundation. 

MacLellean talked with local media about the experience:

"It's a fun day, a fun day to see people react to the Cup," MacLellan told FOX 9 TV. "You know, it brings a lot of smiles to people's faces, people that sometimes don't get a chance to get close to it are getting an opportunity and it's fun to watch them enjoy it."

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