Saad’s Olympic dreams fade, but Sharp’s soar

When the U.S. Olympic team is named on Wednesday following the Winter Classic game between Detroit and Toronto in Ann Arbor, there’s a good chance Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad won’t hear his name called.

There’s simply too much proven talent at wing on the USA side, which means Saad might have to wait his turn.

Meanwhile, when Canada reveals its Olympic roster on Jan. 7, Patrick Sharp likely can expect to hear his name called.

Sharp has been on a tear at exactly the right time to catch the attention of the Canadian staff. He has 6 goals in the last three games, 11 in the last 10 and 22 for the year.

Hawks captain Jonathan Toews, who is a lock to make Team Canada along with defenseman Duncan Keith, thinks Sharp has proven he deserves to play on the world stage.

“I don’t think that’s even an option,” Toews said. “I think he’s shown everything he can do throughout his career since the last Olympics and throughout the season. I don’t think there are any holes in his game. Obviously he’s scoring, but he’s doing a lot of other things too and is a big reason why our line is successful right now and our team is successful, not only this year but in the playoffs.”

Sharp has played some of his best hockey in the biggest games in the 2010 and 2013 playoffs when the Hawks won the Stanley Cup.

“The last couple times we won the Cup he’s been there in those big moments,” Toews said. “We’ve always known in this locker room that he’s the type of player that deserves to play at that level and represent Team Canada and he continues to prove it.”

Some consider Sharp to be a bubble player while others have him penciled in to play on the top line with Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby. Other bubble players for Canada are Chris Kunitz of the Penguins, Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.

Toews and Crosby are considered locks to make the Canadian squad along with Ryan Getzlaf, Eric Staal, John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Rick Nash, Jamie Benn, Corey Perry, Logan Couture, Martin St. Louis, Patrice Bergeron and Claude Giroux.

“That’s not really my decision,” Sharp said of his chances. “All I can do is let my play speak for itself. My focus right now is helping the Hawks win games.”

Brent Seabrook, who is in the midst of a terrific season with the Hawks, is considered a bubble player on defense along with Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf.

Keith, Shea Weber, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Marc-Edward Vlasic, Drew Doughty and P.K. Subban are thought to be locks to make the team.

As far as goalies go for Team Canada, there’s Carey Price and Roberto Luongo, both of whom are thought to be sure things to go to Sochi, Russia. As for the third goaltender, Corey Crawford’s groin injury muddles the picture.

Crawford, who is likely to return on either Thursday or Friday after being out since Dec. 8, is still in the mix along with Mike Smith of the Coyotes.

As for Saad, who has 13 goals and 29 points for the Hawks, it would be surprising if he were one of the 13 forwards named to Team USA.

Saad is stuck behind the likes of teammate Patrick Kane, Zach Parise, Phil Kessel, David Backes, Ryan Kesler, Bobby Ryan, Dustin Brown, Ryan Callahan, Max Pacioretty, Derek Stepan, Joe Pavelski, T.J. Oshie and Blake Wheeler.

On defense for the U.S., it doesn’t look good for Nick Leddy either — not with Ryan Suter, Keith Yandle, Jack Johnson, Dustin Byfuglien, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson and Kevin Shattenkirk ahead of him.

In goal the USA team is expected to have Ryan Miller, Jonathan Quick and either Cory Schneider or Jimmy Howard.

Quick and Howard have been hurt, but Howard is expected back this week and Quick not long after that.

Injuries can change everything in an instant. Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos is still recovering from a broken leg, but he has yet to be ruled out of the Olympics as part of Team Canada.

ŸFollow Tim’s hockey reports on Twitter @TimSassone and check out his Between the Circles blog at

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