Team Canada Takes Shape – And Looks Pretty Good, Too

Jonathan Willis
April 25 2012 11:54AM

With the additions of Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, this year’s Canadian entry at the World Championships is shaping up to be one of the strongest we’ve seen recently. Given how Canada has fared the last few years at the Worlds, that’s a very good thing.

After winning the silver in 2009, it has been difficult for Canada to win at the Worlds. In 2010, the Canadians finished seventh in the tournament, ahead of all the traditional hockey powers (except the Americans, who finished 13th) as well as Germany and Switzerland. Their showing in 2011 was a little better; that team finished fifth.

Here are the skaters named to date, along with their career performance at the World Championships and a listing of their international experience:

Player Pos. GP G A PTS Other
John Tavares C 14 12 4 16 3 other tourneys
Ryan Getzlaf C 9 3 11 14 5 other tourneys
Dion Phaneuf D 14 0 11 11 2004 WJC, 2005 WJC
Jay Bouwmeester D 27 5 5 10 5 other tourneys
Jordan Eberle RW 11 5 3 8 3 other tourneys
Corey Perry RW 7 2 4 6 2005 WJC, 2010 Oly.
Evander Kane LW 14 2 4 6 2009 WJC, 2008 U-17
Jeff Skinner RW 7 3 3 6 2009 U-17
Patrick Sharp LW 9 3 0 3 None
Duncan Keith D 9 0 2 2 2010 Oly.
Luke Schenn D 16 0 2 2 3 other tourneys
Andrew Ladd LW 7 0 0 0 2005 WJC
Marc Methot D 7 0 0 0 None
Jamie Benn LW --- --- --- --- 2009 WJC
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins C --- --- --- --- 2010 U-17
Ryan O'Reilly C --- --- --- --- 2009 U-18, 2008 U-17
Teddy Purcell RW --- --- --- --- None
P.K. Subban D --- --- --- --- 2008 WJC, 2009 WJC

In net, both Cam Ward and Devan Dubnyk are back for their third World Championship; Ward has played 10 games in two previous tournaments for the Canadians, while Dubnyk played a few minutes last year (he’s been the third-string goalie in two previous appearances).

It’s a very strong group up front . At centre, Ryan Getzlaf and John Tavares provide a strong 1-2 punch; both have excelled in previous appearances. Behind them, Ryan O’Reilly will almost certainly centre the checking line in his first appearance at the tourney, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems a likely candidate for the fourth-line role.

On right wing, Corey Perry and Jeff Skinner have both played in the tournament once before, while this is Jordan Eberle’s third tournament and likely the first where he’ll earn one of the team’s top jobs. Newfoundland’s Teddy Purcell is making his first appearance for Canada at any major tournament.

At left wing, Jamie Benn is appearing in his first World Championships; he’ll join recently announced returnee Patrick Sharp and two Winnipeg Jets wingers in Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd. Like Eberle, Kane is hoping to play more of a feature role this time around.

P.K. Subban is the lone player on the blue-line appearing in his first World Championships. He’ll likely play a top-four role along with veterans Duncan Keith, Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf. Behind that quartet are defensive rearguards Luke Schenn and Marc Methot.

The Canadians can now ice a full lineup, though there are a couple of spots left for late additions to the team. There are a number of intriguing options who may see their seasons end in the next few days; one wonders if Patrice Bergeron (who was brilliant in 2006 when he last played in the World Championships) would accept an invite should Washington eliminate the Boston Bruins.

Regardless of who fills the remaining spots, the team assembled by Kevin Lowe and the rest of Hockey Canada’s management group should contend for gold this spring.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Harlie
April 25 2012, 01:04PM
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Good info JW, thanks!

And anyone else annoyed by the stupid RUSH ad that is takes up at the bottom of the page when scrolling and doing a posting? Can't that banner be put on the sides like the lovely luscious bountiful burger pictures that used to grace the sides from Tilted Kilt??

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#2 Sobueno
April 25 2012, 02:05PM
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I just hopped onto Capgeek to see how much this team would cost if iced for the 2012-13 season, expecting it to be extremely expensive considering how stacked (for the most part) it seems.

Surprisingly, in terms of the cap hit for each players projected 2012-13 contract (or the 2011-12 for those whose contracts are expiring) this team would only cost just over $66 million! I say only, because that would fall just within the salary cap.

Don't know if that's surprising to anyone else, but dang I wish the Flames could ice this roster while spending approximately what they already do!

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#3 Arik
April 25 2012, 07:41PM
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Hockey Arik confirms a fruit cup will join yogurt for Arik's Stomach.

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#4 mike
April 25 2012, 11:59AM
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Good read

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#5 I'm Batman
April 25 2012, 12:01PM
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J.W. how come Ryan Murray is not on this list? Has he not been officially named to the team yet?

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#6 Mantastic
April 25 2012, 12:01PM
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i can't see bergeron playing due to the fact he's currently playing with an injury. but i hope jordan staal can join.

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#7 oilfan
April 25 2012, 12:03PM
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forwards and goaltending look good but the defense is something to be concerned about, Phaneuf and Schenn will likely be too slow on the bigger ice.

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#10 Muji 狗
April 25 2012, 12:10PM
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Looks good. If Tambellini were in charge, Khabibulin would be the 1A and Dubnyk would be the 1B.

On a more serious note, does anyone know who in management is most responsible for the Oil Kings and OKC Barons? The Oil Kings are amazing. The Barons have been excellent. Is Kevin Lowe involved at all with those teams (moreso than Tamby) since he's the "President of Hockey Operations"?

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#11 master of my domain
April 25 2012, 12:41PM
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not sure what looks better on Eberle, the hockey Canada symbol, or the A

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#12 RexLibris
April 25 2012, 12:49PM
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The Oil Kings roster is pretty much the result of Bob Green as GM and his scouts (with some cross-referencing from Stu MacGregor's group in the case of Pelss and Gernat).

I'm not certain who hired Green, but I suspect it would have been then-Oilers GM Kevin Lowe (2007).

The Barons, as I understand it, are more the product of Steve Tambellini as it was under his time as GM that the team moved to Oklahoma City (maker of Lowetide's favourite t-shirts) and brought aboard Todd Nelson as coach.

I have been wondering about Bob Green as an eventual GM candidate for the Oilers in the event that Tambellini is let go. He built good teams in Medicine Hat and the roster that he has constructed (obviously under the very different circumstances of junior league play) is so excellently balanced that they can play, and apparently win, at nearly any style; defensive, offensive, shut-down, come-from-behind, play-with-the-lead, and Philadelphia Smashmouth style. He appears to value the draft and internal development and has leveraged his outgoing players into picks and prospects very well. He has also gambled on the occasional european prospect which, so far, seems to be working, as in the case with Henrik Samuelsson.

If Tambellini is eventually replaced as GM, I have to wonder if he might not be interested in keeping a position within the organization managing the development and farm-team processes, as this seems to be a strength of his. During his time as assistant GM in Vancouver their farm team, the Moose, were the dominant AHL franchise for several years. I don't know how much involvement he necessarily had, but it is something worth keeping in mind, I think.

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#13 RexLibris
April 25 2012, 12:59PM
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I'm really interested to see what happens with Nugent-Hopkins as a depth centre.

I have to wonder if he'll be capitalizing on some weaker matchups playing later in the rotation.

I know some fans don't like the IIHF Championships, but I have always found them entertaining, sometimes more so than NHL hockey and with a roster like this one, how could you not be entertained. For my money, the best games are the ones against Latvia. Those fans make it worth watching every time.

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#14 The Soup Fascist
April 25 2012, 01:26PM
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@RexLibris

Randy Hansch, assistant GM, also should receive a lot of the kudos for piecing this Oil Kings team together. While certainly Green's fingerprints are all over the blueprint, Hansch is the guy directly involved in a lot of the player personnel choices. Green has the "big picture" in mind while Hansch does a lot of the grunt work. Both exceptional hockey guys.

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#15 OILERSORDEATH
April 25 2012, 01:35PM
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Wait till the Oil Kings meet the Winterhawks. Should be the clash of the Titans. Oil Kings havent played tough teams Like the Hawks have. Pus I dont think Eastern Conf is as strong as the Western Conf.

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#16 RKD
April 25 2012, 01:36PM
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Appears to be a solid lineup. I would have concerns about any pairing with Marc Methot and/or Luke Schenn.

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#17 Muji 狗
April 25 2012, 02:02PM
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I wonder if they will use the Nuge as a PP specialist (and, if so, if they'll pair him with Eberle).

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#18 RexLibris
April 25 2012, 02:29PM
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@SoupFascist

Thanks for the information. It can be hard to get background information on developmental leagues sometimes.

Interesting about Hansch. Might be a name to keep tabs on.

I'm encouraged by the coordination between the Oil Kings and Oiler scouts (from what I have heard). If the teams have the same ownership and there is a connection via the draft, then it makes sense to collaborate when it comes to scouting reports and perspectives.

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#19 Jack
April 25 2012, 02:31PM
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Hey everyone! I just recently started a blog, and my second post was about why Nugent-Hopkins should win the calder trophy! Feel free to check it out, and feedback is welcome! :)

http://johnisjack.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/why-ryan-nugent-hopkins-should-win-the-calder-trophy/

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#20 RexLibris
April 25 2012, 02:38PM
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@OILERSORDEATH

Right now I'd rather the Oil Kings face Tri-City as they seem to be geared to more of a single dominant line with fewer goals in their supporting cast than Portland.

That being said, I know Flames fans would love nothing more than to see Baertschi versus Brossoit.

I would argue that the Oil Kings, while facing teams lower in the standings, have had to face some considerable opponents. Their success, in my opinion, is due to their balanced roster and good coaching more than a weakness of their opponents. The Ice were the defending WHL champions, Brandon was a good team and there were a few games that could have gone either way, while currently the Warriors are proving a serious opponent.

Obviously Portland and Tri-City appear to be in a class themselves, but I think they will be as much challenged by the Kings' three scoring lines and defensive depth as the Kings will be by either of those teams offensive prowess.

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#21 RexLibris
April 25 2012, 02:40PM
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@ Muji

2nd pp unit, is my guess. Tavares or Getzlaf are pretty much a lock for the first unit. The strength on the RW also probably means that Eberle will be on 2nd pp as well.

I wonder if Sutter will ever get frustrated enough to try the same thing he did last season with the Flames and put five defensemen on the ice for a powerplay? That'd go over well with Hockey Canada.

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#22 stevezie
April 25 2012, 03:30PM
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Did Matt Moulson sleep with someone's wife or son?

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#23 Mike Krushelnyski
April 25 2012, 04:07PM
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Wow that's the best looking WHC lineup since the days of the mighty Smytty - Comrie - Anson Carter line!

Pretty disappointed in Crosby for not going. He's obviously symptom-free at this point and only logged about 30 games this season. Are two weeks of competitive hockey really going to hurt his off-season training?

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#24 Walter Sobchak
April 25 2012, 06:48PM
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Hockey Canada confirms Ryan Murray will join team Canada for the WHC.

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#25 Douglas
April 25 2012, 08:52PM
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Sobueno wrote:

I just hopped onto Capgeek to see how much this team would cost if iced for the 2012-13 season, expecting it to be extremely expensive considering how stacked (for the most part) it seems.

Surprisingly, in terms of the cap hit for each players projected 2012-13 contract (or the 2011-12 for those whose contracts are expiring) this team would only cost just over $66 million! I say only, because that would fall just within the salary cap.

Don't know if that's surprising to anyone else, but dang I wish the Flames could ice this roster while spending approximately what they already do!

Thats not a huge surprise. A lot of the guys are still on their ELCs.

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#26 justDOit
April 25 2012, 09:59PM
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@ Krusher

Crosby hasn't had enough time to train and get into game shape, having been injured for so long. And he just didn't look right in their series against the Flyers - maybe he's concussed again from Malkin running over him?

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#27 stevezie
April 26 2012, 10:38AM
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justDOit wrote:

@ Krusher

Crosby hasn't had enough time to train and get into game shape, having been injured for so long. And he just didn't look right in their series against the Flyers - maybe he's concussed again from Malkin running over him?

he did score eight points in six games. We should all look so not right. Victim of his own standards.

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#28 dawgbone98
April 26 2012, 11:30AM
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Crosby and Toews are both coming off concussion-shortened seasons. Heck, 7 months ago we weren't sure if Crosby would ever play again.

For guys like that, especially if there are any lingering symptoms, get a pass.

If you want to look at someone who constantly refuses team Canada, look a little to the south. Iginla only chooses to represent Canada at the worlds biggest tournaments.

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