Team Canada enters the Olympics like they enter any International tournament, the favorites to win.
After winning a nail-biting Gold Medal in 2010 on home ice, the Canadians will bring a younger roster to Sochi in hopes of a repeat. There are probably around three forward lines and two defense lines worth of players that are going and are really non-negotiable. The final 5 game-day spots will be a toss-up between superstars.
There is definite controversy in goal for some people with who was invited to orientation camp. I’m going to select my 25 man roster from the 47 players that were invited to camp, even though players that weren’t invited to camp could crack the roster come decision time.
Here’s my roster for Team Canada in Sochi.
1. Roberto Luongo
2. Carey Price
There’s no question, in my mind, that Luongo should be in the cage for Canada again. The negative press that was put on him in Vancouver the last few seasons was team initiated, not player. Luongo is an elite goaltender and backstopped Canada to Gold in 2010 after taking over for future hall of famer Martin Brodeur. Price is possibly the best Canadian goaltender next to Luongo and, he too, deals with the same media frustrations as Bobby Lou. Superstar players who can handle the extracurricular attention.
Shea Weber – Drew Doughty
Ducan Keith – Kris Letang
Alex Pietrangelo – Marc Staal
This is a big, bad group of defenders. How many Norris candidates can you ice? Team Canada enters the tournament, in my mind, with the best group of forwards and defencemen in the tournament. Like I said in the USA blog, though, the game is won on the ice and not on paper. Shea Weber is the best defenseman in the NHL right now if you weigh offensive and defensive abilities equal and he leads his band of stallions into the Olympics in fashion.
Taylor Hall – Sidney Crosby – Steven Stamkos
Jordan Eberle – Jonthan Toews – John Tavares
Claude Giroux – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Patrice Bergeron – Jordan Staal – Logan Couture
This is the most impressive forward unit in the entire tournament, hands down. Can you imagine Crosby and Stamkos on the same line? It’s going to happen. Why? Because Canada has more depth down the middle than anyone else and in order to bring the worlds best to the tournament some will have to shift to the wing. When you’re as talented as some of the players on this roster it’s not a difficult switch because the hockey IQ is so high. The second line is the one to watch for, it features two of the most clutch players in recent international tournaments for Canada in Toews and Eberle. I’m sure no one is sweating if that line is on in the final few minutes and Canada is down a goal.
G Mike Smith
D Dan Boyle
D Brent Seabrook
F Rick Nash
F Eric Staal
Smith is seasoned and I don’t think Crawford or Holtby are seasoned enough to take to the Olympics. I don't think this shortened season should bounce Crawford to the front of the pack. Holtby has accomplished minimal things in his short career thus far, and is more of a looker for 2018 in South Korea, if that even happens. P.K. Subban brings too much worry about stupid penalties for me to include him in the main roster. Even though he captured his first Norris Trophy, he’s still wildly immature and doesn’t jump over anyone in my top eight. For me, Boyle and Seabrook bring solid depth and leadership to a young squad and would be effective on any of the three defensive lines in the case of injury. Eric Staal and Rick Nash give scoring depth for the wing and middle.
Essentially, Canada should, and they expect to, repeat as champions. It’s up to whoever is chosen in the end to determine that. When you can ice a roster like this there isn’t any doubt about what you’re expected to do, but heavy is the head the wears the crown.
Steve Yzerman has one heck of a decision in front of him, because if Canada doesn’t repeat then the questions will all be towards who didn’t get chosen for the team.
That’s all for now, thanks for reading.