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January 3, 2014 | 11:50am ET
Top U.S. snubs to take this weekend
By Tab Bamford, TheFourthPeriod.com

The Winter Classic is now in the rear view mirror, and we now have weeks to discuss who was snubbed by USA Hockey as they head to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics. If you think someone is worthy of Olympic consideration, you can pick them up this weekend in a one-day fantasy hockey league.

This year, The Fourth Period is working with the fine folks at DraftStreet.com. They're offering a free $500 NHL contest for Saturday games only this season that's remarkably easy to join.

This free contest will be salary-cap style drafting where everyone tries to assemble the best team out of the available players. You will have a $100,000 budget to build a team of 2 LWs, 2 RWs, 2 Centers, 2 Defensive players, 1 Goalie, and a FLEX. Each NHL player has been allocated a price based on their expected fantasy performance.

As we get ready for games on Saturday, January 4, here are some Americans that could have been headed to Sochi... but arenít.

Winnipeg at Boston -- Dustin Byfuglien
Big Buff is among the league's top scoring defensemen with 31 points in 43 games, but USA Hockey didn't see him as a fit on the blue line in Sochi. With Boston's roster banged up, look for him to take aim this weekend.

San Jose at Colorado -- Erik Johnson
Johnson made the team in 2010 and is having a pretty good season -- six goals, 11 assists, plus-ten in 39 games -- but wasn't what the United States was looking for in their defensive group this year.

New Jersey at Buffalo -- Cory Schneider
Martin Brodeur is starting against the Blackhawks on Friday night, so look for Schneider to take the net against the anemic Sabres on Saturday. With USA Hockey selecting Jimmy Howard over Schneider, look for him to make a statement against potential US starter Ryan Miller.

NY Rangers at Toronto -- Jake Gardiner
Gardiner certainly wasn't in the discussion as much as other names on our list, but he's an intriguing name to watch in the wake of the Leafs' New Year's Day trade for Tim Gleason. He's skating over 21 minutes per game for Toronto, and has 12 points through 41 contests.

Ottawa at Montreal -- Bobby Ryan
Whether or not he settles his differences with Brian Burke between now and the weekend, Ryan will undoubtedly look to make a statement against the Habs. He has 18 goals in 43 games to start the year, but has been clear with his disappointment in not making the US roster.

Nashville at Florida -- Seth Jones
David Poile didn't take his rookie defenseman, but his name certainly was in the discussion. Against a Florida team that's susceptible to big offensive nights, Jones could look to continue impressing the man that selected him in the 2013 Draft as the calendars roll over to 2014.

Carolina at NY Islanders -- Kyle Okposo
Okposo had a two-point night -- including a game-winning overtime goal -- against the Blackhawks on Thursday, and he'll look to continue his strong season against a Hurricanes team that is within three points of third in the Metropolitan Division.

Columbus at St. Louis -- Jack Johnson
As is the case with Colorado, Columbus' Johnson was in Vancouver in 2010 but won't have to pack for Russia this year. He's averaging over 23 minutes per game, and will be facing three US Olympians on the Blues' roster.

Detroit at Dallas -- Alex Goligoski
Not a name that's been central to many Olympic discussions, Goligoski has 13 points in 38 games. Detroit is coming off the Winter Classic and has injury issues of their own, which could open the door for Goligoski to have a productive weekend.

Washington at Minnesota -- Jason Pominville
A bit of a surprise that he wasn't on the roster, Pominville has more points than his two teammates that did make the US roster -- Zach Parise and Ryan Suter.

Philadelphia at Phoenix -- Keith Yandle
One of the names many were surprised to not see on the blue line for the United States, Yandle has 27 points in 39 games to open the season. Philly's been much better since their early season coaching change, but Yandle will be looking to make a statement at home.

Vancouver at Los Angeles -- Chris Higgins
Higgins will be facing an LA roster that's loaded with Olympians, but he's been an important part of the Canucks' offense this season. With 11 goals in 42 games, he ranks third on Vancouver behind Ryan Kesler and Daniel Sedin.

CLICK HERE to sign up for free and join the $500 Freeroll on DraftStreet.com. 


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