The start of July is always busy. The month goes off like a firework with the start of free agency on the 1st, Canada Day also falling on the 1st, and July 4th marks Independence Day for the United States. Curious which NHL players hail from the good ol’ USA? As the United States development program grows deeper, the number of American born players increase season by season, a total of 65 players were taken in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft alone. In honor of 2014, here are 14 players who sparkle like a fresh sheet of ice.
Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild): As a former captain of the NJ Devils, Parise skated the team all the way to the Stanley Cup finals back in 2012 when New Jersey fell to the LA Kings. At the time, one of the most sought after free agents on the market; a Minnesota native, Parise had cause to celebrate, after being signed to the home team that summer. The Minnesota Wild signed the former NJ Devils captain to a 13 year, $98M contract. Captain America to say the least, Parise wore the “C” for Team USA during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Jonathan Quick (LA Kings): Quickly becoming a hockey household name, Quick helped his team win the most coveted prize in hockey, not once in 2012, but repeated the feat again this season, earning The Stanley Cup. Impressed with his goaltending skills, LA shutout the rest of the NHL by locking down their goaltender, Quick is currently well into a contract, not set to expire until the 2022-23 season.
Ryan Callahan (Tampa Bay Lightning): Once playing captain to the New York Rangers, Callahan dropped the red, and now dons white and blue with the Tampa Bay Lightning after being dealt to Tampa for Martin St. Louis, a 2015 first round pick and a 2014 second round pick. The move has proven beneficial, landing Callahan a six-year contract extension to stay with the Lightning, averaging $5.8M a season.
Matt Carle (Tampa Bay Lightning): Carle has been a consistent force on the blue-line for Tampa Bay since re- joining the team in 2012, after a four year stint with the Philadelphia Flyers. Consistent and content enough to stay, Carle found himself signing a six-year deal in July of 2012 worth $33M.
Bobby Ryan (Ottawa Senators): Playing his entire career with the Ducks organization, until skating into Ottawa in 2013, Bobby Ryan now dons the Senators logo on his jersey. Ryan made a splash in the headlines this January, hanging in US Olympic Hockey limbo, after being snubbed from the 2014 Winter Olympic Team. Ryan had previously won silver during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics with Team USA.
Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens): Coming back from injury is never an easy feat, but Pacioretty has managed just fine, repeatedly. Suffering critical injury in March 2011, Pacioretty had a career best season during 2011-12; ultimately winning him the Masterton Trophy during the NHL Awards that season. During the season, Pacioretty dons red, white and blue with Montreal, but the offseason has his wearing the red, white and blue of USA.
Ryan Suter (Minnesota Wild): Once a big player in the free agency game, Suter proved his worth and found a lengthy home as a member of the Minnesota Wild franchise. Joining fellow American teammate Zach Parise, Suter is in the midst of a 13-year, $98M contract. Suter has a silver medal; earned during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics where he served as alternate captain, he also traveled to Sochi as a member of the 2014 Team USA.
John Carlson (Washington Capitals): Carlson has been a solid force for the Capitals throughout the season as an offensive defencemen. Carlson did help the US in 2010 with his game winning goal during the World Junior Ice-Hockey Championships, followed by a stint on the Team USA roster in Sochi. Despite being born in Massachusetts, 24-year-old Carlson grew up in New Jersey.
Jack Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets): After signing a 7-year contract extension with LA in January of 2011; Johnson was traded nearly a year later by the organization on February 23, 2012. Trades happen all the time, it’s the nature of the game. One can assume that the trade came 4 months too early for Johnson, as his former team went on to win the 2012 Stanley Cup, and took the title again this season. Although his name won’t be on the Cup, Johnson does have a silver medal in his trophy case from the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and a home with a fantastic fanbase within the Columbus Blue Jackets franchise.
Dustin Brown (LA Kings): Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the entire roster for the LA Kings, but their captain is one player you should recognize. Brown skated, checked, and scored his way to hoisting the Stanley Cup this past June. No stranger to recognition, Brown also served as an alternate captain for Team USA in Vancouver and held a place on the roster in Sochi. In addition, he’s played in 4 World Championships and been the recipient of the NHL Foundation Award in 2010-11 and the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2014.
TJ Oshie (St. Louis Blues): If you’re a fan of Team USA hockey, the chances are fairly great that you’re a fan of Oshie also. Oshie skated through the paces again, again and again going 4 for 6 against in the shootout to defeat Russia. That game alone earned Oshie nicknames across the league and a devoted fanbase beyond the ones residing in St. Louis. Oshie tallied 21 goals and 39 assists throughout the regular season, helping the Blues skate into the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks): 2014-15 will skate in as the last year of Kane’s contract with Chicago, a headline that may soon be fixed as extension negotiations begin. At just 25-years-old Kane has netted two Stanley Cups, a silver medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, a trip to Sochi in 2014 and a Calder Cup Trophy. Drafted in 2007 by Chicago, the Blackhawks organization is the only one Kane has ever known, whether he stays or goes, Kane has a spot as one of the best American born players in the league.
Ryan Kesler (Anaheim Ducks): Despite being an American, Kesler has spent his career as a staple within the Vancouver Canucks organization, up until being traded to the Anaheim Ducks this week. A product of the US National Team Development program, Kesler has skated into a silver medal at the Vancouver Olympic games, as well as a slot on the roster in Sochi — a trend with the American born players it seems. Kesler also netted the Selke Trophy in 2011.
Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks): Pavelski has similar accolades to his fellow American born NHL colleagues, a silver medal in Vancouver and a slot on the 2014 team in Sochi. Having played his entire career within the Sharks organization, the team signed the 29-year-old to a five-year, $30M contract extension in 2013. This past March, Pavelski notched his 400th career point, skating the forward into waters that the team may never have imagined.
Photo Credits: USA Hockey, NHL Canadiens, NHL Lightning, NHL Kings