January 06 2014 09:23AM
With Hockey Canada unveiling their Olympic team on Tuesday, I decided to take a stab at this year’s roster.
As we have already seen with the US squad, there will be arguments for days about the additions and omissions. Canada is deeper than the USA, so we can imagine the scrutiny of this team when it is announced.
I have no idea who may be the starter but it’s safe to say Luongo and Price will be 1-2 in any particular order. However, Luongo’s recent injury could change this. If you have to use your third goalie, you are likely in some trouble anyways so I’m not going to focus too much there.
There are 3 no brainers in Keith, Weber and Doughty.
The rest of the corps is up for grabs.
Keith (L) Weber (R) Doughty (R) Hamhuis (L) Bouwmeester (L) Pietrangelo (R) Subban (R) Vlasic (L)
Dan Hamhuis – He plays all the hard minutes for the Vancouver Canucks and someone (likely a lefty) will need to play the left side with one of Weber or Doughty. He’s not an offensive guy but he can make a good first pass, he’s a veteran and isn’t going to be overwhelmed by the big stage.
You need to have stability on the back end. Canada’s strength in their defense in my opinion is their ability to have “two-way” type defenseman. It won’t hurt them to have one guy that creeps even farther to the defensive side of things.
Bouwmeester could easily be in the top 4 but they may want to keep him with Petriangelo who are teammates in St Louis. The other 2 additions are Vlasic and Subban.
PK Subban - He is making all the headlines right now and it will be up for great debate if he is left off the team. There is no question of this guy’s ability. In my opinion he has be to on the team but I don’t know how much he plays until necessary. If the back end is struggling to create offense or the power play needs some pop he will play. The extra roster spots this year give you that flexibility.
He’s a wild card in that he can be careless and a defensive liability. We all saw what the USA did with Keith Yandle. In a short tournament there are many questions Steve Yzerman and the gang must ask themselves when picking a guy like Subban.
Can you trust him to not cost you with his high risk, high reward play? Are you better off picking “safer” players? If he’s not playing the minutes he wants, will he be a distraction; will he be a good team guy?
He’s the Norris trophy winner and I think he has to be named. He’s too talented but I expect he will be added with extreme caution and will need to earn the coaches trust.
I’m not going to bother putting people on certain lines and decide which is my second, third or fourth line but I expect you will see pairs. In a short tournament finding quick chemistry is big.
Steven Stamkos – Obviously he gets named but you have to think it’s in pencil. Coming back from any injury is so tough. Who knows how he is physically. The bone may be healed but has he had enough time to strengthen the leg? Then there is the timing and the speed factor. This isn't the NHL, this is another level.
Chris Kunitz – He makes the team in my opinion as a safety blanket. In a short tourney and all the concerns of chemistry, I think he's called upon. Are there more talented and better players? Sure.
Is there a better fit with Crosby in a short time frame? Your guess is as good as mine.
He may not have the notoriety or draft status of some guys and he’s definitely painted with the “carried by Sidney Crosby” brush but he’s still a pretty good player. He was a first liner for the Anaheim Ducks when they won the Stanley Cup in 2005-2006 and he’s third in the league in scoring right now.
He can hang with the best and if the best player in the world wants him there, then he will be there. If it doesn’t start out well you plug in one of your extras. I won’t lose sleep either way but I think Team Canada picks him.
Claude Giroux – Played his way back on to the team after a slow start. He has really elevated his game at the right time.
Martin St Louis – Has experience and is still getting it done at his age. He also knows that Stamkos guy pretty well. It’s not a bad thing having a couple old guys around.
Patrick Sharp – Can snipe, has familiarity in Toews and can play up and down the lineup if needed.
Jamie Benn - I've played with this guy and if he wasn't in Dallas people would be more aware of who he is. He skates well for a big guy, has phenomenal hands and he can play a heavy game. I think he's a perfect fit beside Getzlaf and Perry. At the Vancouver games, the line with Morrow-Getzlaf-Perry was very effective.
Benn is more skilled than Brenden Morrow and has the ability to adapt his game to a more physical style if need be. The thought of a line like that excites me.
Patrice Bergeron – Great role guy, can fill a lot of holes when called upon
Patrick Marleau – Still one of the best skaters in the league, he can score and kill penalties. His experience and the big ice should be an advantage to him making the team.
Logan Couture – Also a guy that can kill penalties, there are only a handful of forwards they are picking from that kill on their NHL squads. He goes to the dirty areas and I think those things give him an edge to squeak into the top 14. I could see Duchene replace him or Marleau as well to add a little more offensive flare.
Rick Nash – Hasn’t had a tremendous season, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he is still named. Experience is on his side.
Joe Thornton - There’s no question he is one of the best players in North America but on the big ice I worry a bit. He wants to slow the game down and they are so deep down the middle.
Jeff Carter - Definitely there if Stamkos can't go.
Eric Staal – Could be there, I just don’t see it with their center depth right now.
Milan Lucic – On North American ice he's a no brainer. On the bigger ice there isn't as much hitting, it's harder to get to the guy before the puck is moved. I think the Canadians have enough skilled size and grit that can get around a little better.
James Neal – You could interchange him and Benn. He’s close.
Taylor Hall - I think he just misses out. His two-way game isn't quite there in my opinion and when you look at where he would likely need to play, he doesn't fit for me. I don’t think he cracks the top 6 and he doesn’t have as many intangibles some other bottom 6 guys will bring.
Unfortunately I also think his lack of playoff experience at the NHL level may hurt him a bit. In 4 years he's a lock.
Matt Duchene – Same as Hall. Great talent, just not as well rounded as some older more experienced guys.
It will be exciting. I’m not sure you can go very wrong with any of the bubble guys. Canada is so deep, many are interchangeable.
Who’s on your squad?