David Poile recently joked that Seth Jones’ chances to make the 2014 U.S. Olympic hockey team got better the moment the Nashville Predators drafted the 18-year-old defenseman fourth overall last month.
Monday, Jones’ opportunity to make the team was guaranteed when he was among the 48 players named to the USA Hockey orientation camp. The first-round draft pick was among a handful of Nashville players who got similar invitations from national programs across the world.
The NHL and the IIHF announced last Friday an agreement that allows NHL players to take part in the Olympics for the fifth straight time and the national programs moved quickly to start the process that will produce their rosters for the tournament, which will take place Feb. 7-23 at Sochi, Russia.
The U.S. camp is set for Aug. 26-27 at Arlington, Va. and will take place under the watchful eye of Poile, who recently was named general manager for the 2014 Olympic team.
A look at notable Nashville players who will earn the opportunity to compete:
• Shea Weber was among the 47 players invited to Team Canada’s camp. A key player in that country’s 2010 gold medal performance, he had two goals and four assists in seven games at Vancouver.
• Patric Hornqvist was one of 35 named to Sweden’s camp. Twice the Predators’ leading goal scorer, he was a role player who had one goal in four appearances for Sweden in 2010.
• Pekka Rinne was among the eight goalies invited to Finland’s 54-player camp. He faces stiff competition from the likes of Tuukka Rask, Antti Niemi, Niklas Backstrom among others.
• Defense prospect Joonas Jarvinen, a free agent acquisition last offseason, also was invited to Finland’s camp.
• Fresh off his breakout performance at the 2013 World Championships, forward Craig Smith joined Jones on Team USA’s invite list. Smith has played at the last three World Championships but has no Olympic experience.