The rosters for the men's hockey tournament at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia have finally been released, so unlike usual where we have two weeks between rankings, it's time to take a hard look see which countries made the right and wrong decisions. Second guessing is the name of the game this week.
Previously ranked: 1
They did it! Canada's management avoided the colossal mistake of not taking P.K. Subban. With that said, they still managed to take Chris Kunitz and Rick Nash over players like Martin St. Louis, Taylor Hall, and Tyler Seguin. The roster Canada named is by no means perfect, but it remains exceptionally strong at forward and defense, and provided Mike Smith never plays, they're solid in goal too.
2. United States
Previously ranked: 4
Last week the USA fell victim to naming their team before anyone else did, and because of that we were able to criticism them before everyone else for snubs like Keith Yandle, Dustin Byfuglien, and Bobby Ryan, but other teams have made snubs just as egregious or worse, and don't boast the depth that the Americans do. If the U.S. were dead set on having Jonathan Quick as the starter they may not have moved up, but I have a feeling it'll end up being Ryan Miller.
Previously ranked: 2
How can you snub Victor Hedman? That would be like Canada telling Drew Doughty to stay home. Only Alexander Steen and Anton Stralman have been better possession players among Swedes in the NHL this year, and speaking of Stralman, he was snubbed too. All due respect to players like Alexander Edler, Johnny Oduya, Henrik Tallinder, and Nicklas Hjalmarsson -- they're very good players -- but they're nowhere near the level of Hedman, and Stralman might be the most underrated defenseman in the NHL.
Previously ranked: 3
Speaking of snubs, we all knew it was coming, but the Russians left a lot of very good NHLers off their roster in favour of KHLers. The biggest snub by far is Alexander Semin, who is a gamebreaking scorer and playmaker who drives possession like mad. The other major shock was leaving Nail Yakupov at home. The young Oiler is having a rough sophomore season, but he's always jumped at the chance to represent his country, and done well for them. There were also confusing choices on defense, like taking the struggling Alexei Emelin, who has been on the ice for a staggeringly awful 2.76 goals against every 60 minutes of even strength play.
Previously ranked: 5
Saku Koivu won't be playing for the Finns, ruling himself out thanks to concussion issues he's dealt with this season. Mikko Koivu was named to the team, but he's touch-and-go following ankle surgery. These problems do not bode well for Finland.
Teemu Selanne, however, will be making his sixth Olympic appearance for Finland, tying a record set by Raimo Helminen. Finland made the curious decision to leave Sean Bergenheim off the roster, which is curious given his chemistry with Aleksander Barkov in Florida. The defense is either very old (Kimmo Timonen and Sami Salo) or very young (Olli Maatta), so a lot will depend on Tuukka Rask in goal.
6. Czech Republic
Previously ranked: 6
The main asset the Czech team had was depth at the forward position, and by snubbing Jiri Hudler, Tomas Fleischmann, and Radim Vrbata, they've kind of killed that. Put those three together and it's very possible that they'd be the best line on the team. But even as a third line that can add depth scoring, behind two lines centered by captain Tomas Plekanec and David Krejci, they'd have been dangerous.
That potential depth that shouldn't have been ignored in favor of the ancient Petr Nedved or Roman Cervenka. Good thing Jaromir Jagr is playing like he's 32 instead of 42.
Previously ranked: 7
Slovakia is what they always are: a mid-range team with a sprinkling of top-end talent. They are boosted a little bit by several young players who have played their way onto the big team with great starts to their rookie campaigns. Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar, both of the Detroit Red Wings, should provide a bit of secondary scoring that Slovakia doesn't usually have, and Zdeno Chara will continue to form an elite pairing with Lubomir Visnovsky (if he's healthy).
Previously ranked: 8
The Swiss have three NHL level forwards available to them, and they left one on the sidelines with Sven Baertschi being left home. The Swiss are also hurt by the loss of Luca Sbisa, who likely would have been a top 4 defenseman for them.
Previously ranked: 11
After having taken the time to watch Michael Raffl playing on the top line with Philadelphia, I have to say I'm pretty impressed. He isn't a game breaker at the level you'd consider for the top teams, but he looks like a difference maker for a lower-tier team like Austria.
Previously ranked: 9
Norway only boasts one NHLer in Mats Zuccarello, but you may recognize former Flyer and Oiler Patrick Thoresen, who has been of of the KHL's most prolific scorers over the last five years.
Previously ranked: 10
Zemgus Girgensons and Kaspars Daugavins are the most recognizable names for younger fans of the game, but if you watched hockey in the 90's and early 2000s, there's an elder statesman on the Latvian team that's surprising to see. Sandis Ozolinsh will be representing his team at the age of 41.
Previously ranked: 12