The United States has 24 NHL teams and more than 307 million people within its borders. With those numbers, the U.S. should be producing a healthy number of highly skilled, physically tough hockey players... more than it is today.
The 2000s have had some positive signs for hockey in the U.S. In the past 11 NHL drafts, six of the overall No. 1 picks were Canadian, two were Russian and three were American (Rick DiPietro, Erik Johnson and Patrick Kane). Team USA's excellent play at the Olympics last February was not a fluke. It was reinforcement that they should not have been such big underdogs. The NHL pool of players born in the U.S. is deeper in quality than Russia, Sweden and every other country but mighty Canada. While lacking elite NHL players, the U.S. has produced plenty of really good players. But, it should be producing more. And it should have more elite-level players.
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