US GM Poile excited about pool of players to choose from

"We are not going into Sochi as the underdog, we expect to win," said Poile in August. (Photo by USATSI)

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After a great run in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, the United States men's national team has high expectations in Sochi this February. In 2010, the US finished second to their neighbors to the north in a 3-2 overtime loss. Now, the Americans are looking to overtake the Canadians, and the rest of the world, in the race for hockey supremacy. USA general manager David Poile sees this as a real possibility and has been excited about being a part of the roster selection process.

"The most interesting thing is our talent pool is so much better in quantity and quality," said Poile. "Much harder [to pick] this year. That's a good thing."

One question mark surrounding Poile is if he can compose an equally, if not more, skilled team than Brian Burke's model in 2010. Poile is looking to alter the defense core, something he is very strong in construction as GM of the National Hockey League's Nashville Predators, which consists of hopeful Olympians Seth Jones (USA), Roman Josi (Switzerland) and Shea Weber (Canada).

"There will be a big change in our defense core from 2010. Big ice gives d-men more time to move and pivot."

According to Poile, the US has already narrowed their defense to twelve players, but will have to get down to eight when the time comes to announce the final roster.

An advantage Poile does have is a basis of a skilled squad from the last Olympics, as opposed to the mediocre 2006 team. Poile has already mentioned Ryan Callahan as a leader for the US squad because of his past experience as an Olympian. But he will also be looking to other veterans to step up, as well, like David Backes, Dustin Brown, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

"Leadership is one of our strengths. The fact that they've been to Olympics before should make them very good leaders."

Poile stated that injuries are not a concern because players could be removed and name a replacement.

"If we think any of injured players are going to be on the team, we will have to name them on the team."

USA Hockey will announce their roster on January 1 as part of the NHL's Winter Classic festivities between  the Toronto Maple Leafs and, host, Detroit Red Wings.