Columnist: In deep U.S. goalie class, Quick is No. 1

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Interesting piece from USA Today’s Kevin Allen on the current state of American goaltending:

In 2010, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller was the darling of the silver-medal winning U.S Olympic team. Eighteen months from now, when 2014 U.S. roster spots are being decided, Miller will have a fight on his hands just to make the team.

Los Angeles Kings goalie Jonathan Quick’s stellar play this season, coupled with the continued improvement of Vancouver’s Cory Schneider and Detroit’s Jimmy Howard, gives rise to the notion that American goaltending might be the strongest it has ever been…

…You can be sure is that if the Americans were playing an Olympic gold medal game tomorrow, Quick would be the U.S. goalie. He has been spectacular enough this season that he has earned the title of the best American goalie right now.

Some thoughts on U.S. netminding:

— There’s a big difference between the current state and how it projects for the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Put it this way: If the Olympic started tomorrow and I had to put a team together today, I’d make Quick the No. 1 with Miller and Thomas in reserve, solely for their playoff/big game experience.

But in 2014, the landscape will be entirely different. Thomas will be 40, Miller 34 and there’s a chance both could be supplanted by Schneider (who has already bumped Canada’s 2010 gold-medal winner, Roberto Luongo, out of a job in Vancouver) and Howard.

— I find it wild that a guy as decorated as Tim Thomas might never star internationally for the U.S. He wasn’t selected at the U-18 or Junior levels, played just seven games over the course of four World Championships and backed up Miller (playing just 12 minutes) at the Vancouver Olympics.

— Don’t discount a young guy stepping up and joining the fold in 2014 in a “learning experience” role (much like what the 24-year-old Quick did in 2010.) Dallas prospect Jack Campbell drew rave reviews in the AHL and has starred for the U.S. at both the U-18 and World Junior tournaments.