Kevin Shattenkirk will be an invaluable member of Team USA’s blue line as the 2014 Winter Olympics men’s hockey tournament kicks off in the coming days. He’s part of a remarkably young but talented group of defenders, all of whom seem to fit into the mold of puck-moving defenseman that the US has become so good at developing over the last decade.
At 25-years-old, the New York native is one of the older players that will be playing defense for the United States. Paul Martin and Brooks Orpik represent the team’s elder statesmen, while Ryan Suter will play at least 25 minutes a night for USA coach Dan Bylsma.
That leaves Shattenkirk to compete with Ryan McDonagh, Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler and John Carlson for playing time. All four guys are young, quick and can get the puck up ice in a hurry. Watching how these line battles shake down during the preliminary rounds will be one of the most interesting storylines for Team USA.
Shattenkirk is an on-ice corsi machine, and that could be what puts him ahead of Faulk and Carlson. Fowler’s corsi isn’t particularly impressive either, which makes you appreciate what the St. Louis Blue does every night at such a high level. Like Alex Pietrangelo—expect to a lesser extent—Shattenkirk is able to produce offense, but he doesn’t do so by leaving his defensive responsibilities behind.
He’s no stranger to international competitions, and has represented the United States on several occasions. Most recently he was a member of the 2011 US Men’s National team. He also won a silver medal with the U-18 squad way back in 2007.
This will be Shattenkirk’s Olympic debut, but a strong showing here could make him a staple in tournaments like this for years to come. The competition for roster sports on America’s blue line will only increase as guys like Seth Jones grow as players, but Shattenkirk has proven that he has the chops to hang with the World’s best while playing with St. Louis over the last four seasons.
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