August 22 2013 11:37AM
The CEO for Hockey Canada Bob Nicholson said, “By my count, I’m at 11. It’s never been that low. The number has always been higher," in Mark Spector's story yesterday, when responding to the question of how many players are locks to make the Canadian Olympic team.
If Nicholson is correct, that leaves 12 spots open, and two "extras". The roster has been expanded from 23 to 25, but I was told a few weeks ago that the players holding down the 24th and 25th spots will be told they are going to Sochi as extras, unless they run into injury problems.
So who are the 11 players that are locks to make the team?
After scanning the roster here is who I feel are locks:
Roberto Luongo. He won gold in Vancouver, and even if he doesn't start every game he'll be one of the three goalies.
Shea Weber. Big, strong, good skater, heavy shot and he's can play against any forward in the tournament.
Drew Doughty. He was only 20 in Vancouver and was one of Canada's best D-men, and his overall game is more consistent now.
Duncan Keith. He's won two Cups since winning gold in Vancouver, and his speed and first pass will be a major asset on the big ice.
Sidney Crosby. He's the most complete forward in the game, and when healthy he's the best player in the game.
Jonathan Toews. He led Canada in scoring in 2010, and his two-way game is outstanding. He's extremely competitive and he'll be one of the leaders.
Ryan Getzlaf. Excellent play maker, and he had a bounce-back season last year. He's won Olympic gold and a Stanley Cup.
Eric Staal. He can play centre or wing and can play on any line. He understands the pressure of the Olympics having played in Vancouver.
Patrice Bergeron. Some questioned his spot on the team in 2010, but he was excellent on faceoffs in Vancouver and in the past three and a half years he's become one of the best two-way centres in the world.
Rick Nash. Nash has lots of international experience, and played very well on the "checking" line in Vancouver. I see him and Toews as a combo again in Sochi.
Steven Stamkos. He is the only non-returnee that I have as a lock. He's the best Canadian goal scorer, and I suspect we will see him and Crosby play together.
When Nicholson mentioned 11 players, he easily could have had Corey Perry on his list, but I have Stamkos as a lock.
Nicholson's 11 locks don't have to include returnees, because 15 of them were invited to the summer orientation camp. Joe Thornton, Dan Boyle, Mike Richards, Brent Seabrook and Perry are the other fiver returnees who will be at camp.
I believe Perry will make the team, because the coaching staff likes having players who've experienced the pressure of the Olympics. It is different than NHL playoffs, because of the single game elimination format of the playoffs. You can't have an off night, and then play great for four other games.
Whether Nicholson was referring to Stamkos or Perry, the reality is that seven forward spots are taken, barring injury, so that only leaves six forward slots and one "extra" forward position.
Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall will have to out perform Jeff Carter, Logan Couture, Matt Duchene, Claude Giroux, Chris Kunitz, Andrew Ladd, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand, James Neal, Patrick Sharp, Jordan Staal and Martin St.Louis and John Tavares if they hope to make the team.
In Spector's article GM Steve Yzerman had this to say about available spots.
“I’d say there are probably, conservatively, maybe 10 locks. Ten may be a conservative number, sure, but half of this team is available for guys to make. At least half.”
I suspect Yzerman says 10 because he wants all of the 47 players who arrive in Calgary to believe they have a realistic shot of making the team.
The final selection announcement will garner massive interest and debate amongst Canadian hockey fans. Some very good players will not make the team. The speculation on who will make it will be higher than ever, due to the deep talent pool.
Will Hall or Eberle make the team?
If Hall plays like he did last year, I don't see how he doesn't make it. His speed through the neutral zone and ability to attack, and beat, D-men one-on-one will be too hard to overlook.
Eberle will need to produce like he did in 2011/2012, and if Eberle gets lots of PK time with the Oilers that will increase his shot of making the team.
Who are your 11 locks?
A MUST SEE....
I have no idea what Dallas Eakins will say to the Oilers when he addresses them on the first day of training camp, but I'd recommend he watch this. Nick Selby....Epic speech.
"Our mission as students is not to follow in the footsteps of astronauts, Nobel Prize laureates and presidents who graduated before us, but to exceed their footsteps. Crush the shoulders of the giants upon whom we stand."
"If you want to play theme music during your convocation speech like a bad ass, WE ARE AT GEORGIA TECH, YOU CAN DO THAT..."
Gold, Nick, Gold.
3RD ANNUAL SPEC'S DECK
**Latvian Fire Jumping from the original party.***
Two years ago I came up with an idea to raise money for charity, while including a great night out. We hatched the idea Spec's Deck, where my good buddy from Sportsnet, Mark Spector, would host a party on his deck.
The past two years have been great, so we are doing it again...This year it will be at a secret location, but all the details are the same.
The contest works like this. You donate $100 to help end MS and you get in the draw. We will have FIVE winners and we cap it at 100 entries. You can enter as many times as you wish. $100 gets you one entry; $200 gets you two and so one. Last year we sold out in less than three weeks, so if you want to win, get on it.
The party will be on Friday, September 20th....
Here is what you get:
The winner gets to bring three friends.
Prestige Limos will pick you up, (Each group of four has one pick up spot) and take you to Spec's deck in style.
Vons Steak House and Oyster Bar will be catering the event. BBQ steak, chicken, potatoes, veggies, etc...And Oysters.
Big Rock will supply beer all night long and in the Limo.
Yellow Cab will ensure everyone gets home safe and sound. They, like me, don't want anyone drinking and driving.
The party will start around 6 p.m. and last for as long as we like. Joining Spec and I will be Brownlee, Strudwick, Ryan Rishaug, Meg Storms and maybe even Wanye. I've also secured a few SPECIAL GUESTS. A few current and former pro athletes will take part in the festivities.
The past two years have been very fun. Last year we had Brett Kissel perform live on Spec's Deck, and it launched his career (maybe his singing ability had more to do with it, but we are certain Spec's Deck really gave him the confidence to go to Nashville), and today he has the #1 song in country music in Canada.
We will have some great live entertainment on the 20th as well.
A huge thank you to all the sponsors and to those who enter and support MS. Good luck.
You can enter by going to Gregorridesforms.ca and click pledge me online.