Kyle Okposo: Not yet an Olympian

I would assume he'll be there one day (assuming continued NHL participation in the Olympics), but today Kyle Okposo was left off the U.S. Olympic team. I don't get caught up in these roster decisions too much: Whether Canada or USA or Russia, very good players must be left off the roster.

But in the context of Okposo's omission -- and Brian Burke's comments about the criteria for forming the team -- two local players named to the squad gave me pause.

First, Burke's comments in an interview on the NHL Network (emphasis mine):

"A body of work is important as far as a player. A player who might not have had a great start this year but his body of work in the last 16 months has been impressive, that carried a lot of weight with us.

Really difficult decisions at every position. Leaving a Ryan Whitney out, a Dustin Byfuglien, Kyle Okposo, Scott Gomez..."

Rivalry considerations aside, exactly what about Chris Drury has been impressive in the last 16 months? Consider that Burkeian criteria and the stats of both Rangers named to the team, as well as the stats of one Islander who didn't:

 


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2009-10 - Chris Drury 35 5 9 14 -7 12 0 0 0 0 60 8.3
2009-10 - Ryan Callahan 40 9 10 19 -11 34 6 0 2 0 107 8.4
2009-10 - Kyle Okposo 41 6 21 27 -5 16 2 0 3 0 130 4.6

Selfishly, I almost don't want any important Islanders logging intense minutes at the Olympics in February and then running through their Olympic hangover in an Isles uniform. But as a USA "fan" who has seen a lot of these players the last few years, I know which guy I would definitely want in a short tournament, and which guy has appeared -- for two seasons running -- to be a shadow of his formerly "clutch" self.

Kyle Okposo never stops working and can eagerly fill any role you give him; that's what I'd expect of a 12th/13th forward in a short tournament. Callahan? Sometimes. I expect he'll show up and be tenacious. Drury? Not sure what role they have in mind for him, but based on his last two NHL seasons, I hope it's not a big one.

I don't want to get too down on any U.S. Olympian; I'm sure they'll all represent with pride. But, well, I know Drury's done some very nice things in his career -- heh, so have Doug Weight and Keith Tkachuk -- he just hasn't done any of them lately.

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