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Will Tim Gleason Make the Cut For Team USA?

Most participants in this season's Olympics have been announced, only Team USA remains. Committee officials are waiting until the Winter Classic on Friday, to make their selections public.

Only one Carolina player has a shot to be included that elite group, and many fans have been clamoring for him to someday be captain of the Hurricanes. But most around the league do not give him much of a chance to make the cut.

Anyway you look at it though, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Tim Gleason is having a heck of a year. He has already scored more goals than he did in any previous NHL season. He plays solid defense, is called upon by his team to stop the opposition's leading scorers every night, and has a respectable -3, considering he plays for the lowest scoring team in the league.

Gleason was invited to Team USA's summer try out camp and while he might be considered a long shot to actually make the squad, he matches up very well when compared to the other participants. (stats as of 12/29/09)

Points Games Points Plus Blocked Hits
per (Minus) Shots
1 Brooks Orpik 0G 14A 14 37 0.38 5 58 135
2 Tim Gleason 5G 7A 12 31 0.39 -3 56 82
3 Mike Komisarek 0G 4A 4 32 0.13 -8 59 82
4 Jack Johnson 4G 11A 15 38 0.39 -13 36 79
5 Ryan Whitney 3G 19A 22 39 0.56 4 55 42
6 Erik Johnson 4G 17A 21 38 0.55 0 40 31
7 Ryan Suter 2G 18A 20 40 0.50 5 63 26
8 Rob Scuderi 0G 2A 2 30 0.07 1 44 25
9 Ron Hainsey 3G 8A 11 37 0.30 -11 49 20
10 Tom Gilbert 2G 6A 8 39 0.21 -2 57 19
11 Brian Rafalski 2G 13A 15 35 0.43 7 44 16
12 Paul Martin 0G 2A 2 9 0.22 1

The above chart is sorted by hits, where Gleason is tied for second. Brian Burke did say he wanted a physical defensive corps, did he not?

The defenseman also places well in the other major categories. His "blocked shots" is in the top half of the group. As mentioned previously, his "plus/minus" is not too bad, considering. Gleason even does well when looking at his scoring and "points per game" average, categories previously considered to be weaknesses.

He sits in the top half of that group of players, no matter how you want to sort the stats.

But his biggest attribute won't show up on a stat sheet. Gleason is the ultimate team player. He will stand up for his teammates. He will play injured. He will take a puck to the face and not only come back to finish the game, but will come back and play his heart out.

Brian Burke and the USA selection committee need to ask themselves some hard questions. Would they rather have Tim Gleason, (82 hits) or Ron "Hollywood" Hainsey, (20 hits) skating against Alex Ovechkin? Would they prefer Gleason, (56 blocked shots) or Jack Johnson, (30) stepping in front of an Alexander Semin slapshot?

Expect seven of the top eleven participants above to be selected. (Paul Martin has been injured and most likely is out of the loop).

What do you think? Will Gleason make the cut?