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Yzerman's Center Dilemma

Posted 7:46 AM ET | Comments 8
One thing's for certain when it comes to assembling Team Canada for the upcoming Olympics. Steve Yzerman has his work cut out for him when it comes to making the cuts at the center position. Canada is so stacked at this position, that they could leave their top 8 centers at home and still have 4 of the best players remaining at that position. In fact, of the 25 forwards invited to this week's mini-camp, 16 of them are natural centers. The math just doesn't add up. No doubt, a few centers will be shifted to the wing for this Winter's tournament to avoid leaving half the roster at home. But, for argument sake, let's imagine what would happen if he were forced to carry only 4 centers into Vancouver. Here are the most noteworthy candidates for the 4 spots:

#1 - Sydney Crosby
Crosby may be the only one who merits no further discussion. It would be insane to consider leaving one the league's top 3 players off of Team Canada. A mistake that was made once before and won't be repeated. While he won't captain the team for at least another 4 years, he will certainly be counted on as the top line scoring center.

#2 - Ryan Getzlaf
Getzlaf is quickly becoming the best of the rest when it comes to forwards in this league. He's the complete package at center, combining scoring, passing, grit and size. Few can bring to the table what he has. And he even has a Cup on his resume at a young age. He's now officially the man in Anaheim, and carried his team deeper in last year's playoffs than anyone predicted.

#3 - Eric Staal
Staal is a tough name to leave off this list. He has just about all the same characteristics of Getzlaf, particularly size and strength. He has also demonstrated he's able to carry on a team on his back. That won't be needed on this team, however. Staal has never really had a superstar scorer on his wing to prove what he could do on a team like this. It'd be a shame to leave him at home.

#4 - Mike Richards
Richards brings the complete package. You're not going to win Gold with 4 lines of sniper who can't backcheck. Richards would fit the fourth line role to a T, and can bring the scoring if needed. Being new to the scene, he might also be more willing to accept limited ice time, over guys like Lecavalier and Thornton, who would expect to be on the ice 15 minutes a game.

(very) Close Runners-up:

Vincent Lecavalier
It seems to some that it's a no brainer to include Lecavalier on this squad. No doubt, he could play a valuable role. The problem (if there is one) is that Vinny has been a little inconsistent over the past few years, and over his career. He may be the most offensively gifted player in the camp, but can he bring it every night for his country? Vinny just barely misses the cut.

Joe Thornton
What to do with big Joe? I say, wait til he wins a cup and invite him back then.

Jeff Carter
No doubt Carter will be getting his turn sooner or later. If he continues to improve the way he has over the last couple seasons, he will be a no-brainer in 2014. He's the easiest choice to slide to the wing. But if we're chopping C's at 4, Carter doesn't qualify yet.

There's bound to be a wide range of opinion on who the top 4 would/should be, but there's no arguing that Team Canada just can't go wrong no matter who they ultimate lineup for the faceoffs in Vancouver.

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Filed Under:   team canada   centers  
August 25, 2009 8:57 AM ET | Delete
Carter played wing in the WJC, he should play wing again. Lecavalier could also play wing...Thornton has to be a buble guy at best especially with the emergence of Eric Staal who takes what would be Thornton's 3rd line role. I love M. Richards on the 4th line and PK he will be a beast!
August 25, 2009 9:45 AM ET | Delete
Richards over Toews?
August 25, 2009 10:35 AM ET | Delete
You don't know what you're getting into, JJ. lol
August 25, 2009 10:39 AM ET | Delete
Vinny can't play wing.. The centers should be Crosby, Getzlaf, Lecavalier and Thornton.Staal, Richards, Carter, Toews are centers that can play wing.. Infact they have all played wing at some point over the last 2-3 seasons. That leaves natural wing spots for guys like Heatley, Iginla, Nash
August 25, 2009 11:36 AM ET | Delete
Don't be suprised if Spezza steals A spot on the fourth line...
August 25, 2009 11:58 AM ET | Delete
Personally, I think Lecavlier is on the outside looking in for Team Canada. Crosby, Getzlaf, E. Staal are all but locks for playing Centre. Then M. Richards, Toews on the bubble (for playing center, not necessarily for simply making hte team itself).
August 25, 2009 1:31 PM ET | Delete
Richards definitely has to be there. He can score and play defense...he needs to be one of the 4. I really think guys like Vinnie and big Joe end up on the outside because they are primarily known for offensive play. But in the "name game" that will surely be played, Vinnie could get in ahead of Richards, especially if Cup experience is one of the detemining factors...
August 25, 2009 5:40 PM ET | Delete
I'd put Toews on there over Staal too. Toews doesn't need a scoring winger. He makes them.
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