With the NHL finally agreeing to send their players to Sochi, I began thinking of the potential roster Canada could put forth. It is crazy to think that while most of the defending gold medalists could be back, the 2010 Olympic team did not have current superstars like Stamkos, Tavares and Giroux. The firepower on this upcoming team will be extraordinary.
One big change going into this Olympics is going back to the big ice. I think its no coincidence Canada has won gold twice in NA size rinks, but have failed to even medal when played on the international ice surface. (For the 4 Olympics which NHLers have gone). I believe Team Canada has to have a different approach this year, emphazising speed and skill over toughness and grit.
With that being said, here is my Team Canada at this point.
Stamkos - Crosby - St. Louis
I've always wanted to see Stamkos play alongside Crosby. With St. Louis showing he still has plenty left in the tank last season, and and his natural chemistry with Stamkos, putting him on here is a no brainer. I really like this line, but I wouldn't be surpised if they put the two bolts players with someone else and play Crosby with a different sniper.
Hall - Tavares - Giroux
This is another deadly offensive line. I don't think people quite realize how good Hall is as I have talked to people who don't even think he belongs on the team at all. He was top 10 in league scoring last season and has been steadily improving every year. His killer speed on the big ice will be frightening. I think giroux's speed and vision will look great next to Hall and Tavares was nominated for the Hart for a reason. He is one of the most dangerous players in the slot and he can provide some more size to that line. I wouldnt be surprised if all three of these guys posted 90 point seasons if playing a full 82 games next season.
Nash - Toews - Perry
This line really has it all. I would match this line against the other team's top defenders as it could really wear them down. Toews is one of the best to way players in the league and he wil probably get a lot of D- zone starts. Perry is only here if he is having a good season. The big ice will no doubt make him less effective. Same thing goes for Getzlaf, who I feel might be a little slow to be dominant on the big ice. The center depth is just too much and thats why I don't have him making it. Both those guys might have to depend on a solid start to the season to make it, despite being such great players. (Note, if we were playing on NA ice, they both make it easily.) Feel Perry makes it because the lack of natural wingers and the role he can play on the PP in front of the net. Nash's size and speed on the olympic ice makes him hard to leave off.
Duchene - Bergeron - E. Staal
This is where it gets really tricky. 4th line center is almost guaranteed to be Bergeron who will be relied on for a defensive role. The wingers are tricky. Would like to see both Couture and Duchene on the team. Couture because he has really grown into a star player than continues to get better yearly, and Duchene because of that lightening speed and the way he dominated the WC this spring. But are they the best options for 4th line wingers? Thats why I could see Ladd or Benn (despite being snubbed) make it. Guys like Bergeron, Toews and Giroux can kill penalties so that is not as much as an issue. I leave Couture off because I think Duchene has proven more internationally so far. Staal I think only makes it if he has another strong season, not if he starts poor like he did 2 years ago.
To my knowledge, the roster will be 25 players instead of the usual 23 allowing for 2 spare forwards and 2 spare dman. Keeping this in mind,
Ladd, because in games agianst a team like USA, he could be valuable and better suited as a role player.
Sharp, because he is a very versatile player, playing all three forward positions, not to mention he has experience playing with Toews.
Really hard to leave off guys like Spezza, Couture, Benn and the list goes on. Would gladly trade one of those guys to Finland for a goalie..
Keith - Weber
This would be my top pairing to shutdown other team's top offensive lines. I feel Keith's great two way play and skating ability on the big ice surface will make him Canada's most valuable Dman. Weber is a beast and these two should be able to handle anything thrown at them.
Doughty - Letang
Doughty turned out to be a great addition last olympics and has really developed his game into a two way defender. He would be relied on to be a steady presence along side a dynamic Letang. Speaking of Letang, I can't wait to see his ability on the big ice surface.
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
AP many consider a lock as he has steadily devloped into one of the best two-way dman in the NHL. J-bo may come as a surprise to some but I think he is a real solid Dman who's blend of mobility and size will really benefit this D-core. Not to mention he will have developed some chemistry playing along side AP in St. Louis.
Ah yes, our young Norris winner. (Suter should have won that by a landslide)Regardless, Subban is one of the most dynamic young Dman in the league. For this tournament, I would have him more as the offensive dman and PP specialist, but I could see him taking J-Bo's spot.
Seabrook is here in case we need the chemistry between him and Keith or another physical dman in the mix. Otherwise, I don't think he will earn a regular spot.
Really open race right now, but I would have Lu starting if the Olympics started tomorrow. He's not the same goalie as he was in 2010 but I still think he is a solid option. Price could start if he is hot going into the Olympics. I would personally choose whoever is having a great season, so it could be a number of goalies. For third string, I would choose Holtby, ho won't touch the ice probably, but would gain valuable experience for a possible starting position down the road.
So that's my team, and no doubt many of you will object, but that's what makes this fun. I don't envy Yzerman, as he has a lot of tough calls to make. Would be interested to know what you all think.
Thanks for reading!