Who should be on the Team Canada Olympic Hockey Roster?

Four years ago, the Canadian men’s hockey team won gold in Vancouver. On Tuesday, the 2014 team that will try to match that result in Sochi will be named. Who should be on it?

My Roster

The depth chart above is my list of 14 forwards, eight defencemen and three goalies. I don’t think this group will be named, but it is the 25-man roster that I think gives Canada the best shot at winning gold. The grey line at the bottom is the list of alternate players in case injury strikes prior to the games.

The roster itself was picked without attempting to match players with teammates, but the line combinations are an attempt to get as much benefit of that familiarity as possible – and there is a surprising amount of it. Patrick Sharp/Jonathan Toews anchor one line, Ryan Getzlaf/Corey Perry another and Joe Thornton/Patrick Marleau another still (though I could also easily see that duo falling to 13/14 in favour of Duchene/Bergeron).

On defence, the right side and Duncan Keith were all basically impossible to ignore (sorry, Brent Seabrook). I really like all four left-side defenders I’ve plugged in here behind Keith and there are plenty of other arrangements that could be used. I saw Keith/Doughty as the top all-situations pair, Hamhuis/Weber as a shutdown unit, Vlasic/Subban as a nicely balanced third pair and given that Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo play together in St. Louis it seemed a shame to break them up (though it was awfully tempting to sub Giordano in for Bouwmeester).

In net, Roberto Luongo and Carey Price are both going to play in the round robin part of the tournament, and whoever looks hot coming out of it can start the elimination games. The third-string position could go to any of half a dozen guys; I picked Mike Smith mostly because if something happens during the tournament I prefer a veteran as a plug-in backup over someone like Jonathan Bernier or Braden Holtby or James Reimer. Corey Crawford and Cam Ward have both had bad seasons, and while Marc-Andre Fleury has been good this year his history in pressure situations leaves me leery. Realistically, though, it’s not a spot I’m antsy about.

Up front, Jamie Benn was a hard, hard guy to leave off the roster. Honestly, the left wing is Canada’s weakest forward position and the gap between the top natural winger on the depth chart (Patrick Sharp) and a guy I didn’t even name (Benn) is smaller for me than the gap between Martin St. Louis and Rick Nash.

Since this is published at Oilers Nation, I should point out I was an ardent Taylor Hall supporter in the summer but I think he’s played his way off the team. Jordan Eberle deserved some consideration but hasn’t played well enough to unseat anybody at right wing – his offence isn’t irresistible and given that his defensive deficiencies are a real problem.

That’s my take. Doubtless the comments section will have its own views.

Recently by Jonathan Willis

  • Jonathan,

    I think your list will be pretty close, but I don’t think Giordano makes it, even if he should (I don’t know who it might be, but I think Boyle).

    I think they will add Kunitz given his experience with the Pens and Ducks, plus comments from the management team about how he was in the top 10 scorers when Crosby was out. He’ll be in over St. Louis (who I don’t think should make the team).

    I would like to see Benn over Nash.

    I don’t understand the love-in with Luongo, Reimer should be on this team over him. But you are likely bang-on with the goaltenders.

    • Omg!!! Lol. Thank you for making my week. I haven’t laughed this hard in awhile. I can see it now. Crosby calls a time out and tells Eakins to shut his mouth and hit the showers. KBlow is waiting for him in there and tells him not to worry cause Crosby actually knows ” a thing or two about winning if there’s ever any doubt”. Eakins stops crying and let’s KBlow “console” him [wink wink]

  • **

    They will probably name Kunitz tot he team, just because of the whole chemistry thing with CRosby. I think Phaneuf is going to be on the team as well, hard to see Team Canada not include Tany player from the leafs. Wow, Jordan Eberle is listed at 5’10 on the team canada orientation roster. No matter who they choose on D, Canada is going to have a sick, sick back end.

    Jonathan, did you leave Lucic out because you think he is not fast enough for the big ice?. I stil think he should be on the team, he has a unique set of skills that could come in handy, specially on a tied game, the guy know how to be a shutdown guy.

    I haven’t seen the Staal brothers play much this season, are they playing poorly?

    • Lucic’s skating was a definite consideration for me, but even aside from that he’s just not as good a two-way player as a guy like Patrick Sharp.

      I get that he’s physical, but I doubt the Canadian team is going to get shown up in that department by any of their rivals.

  • Batfink

    How the h e double hockey sticks has Hall played himself off the team when he was never a lock to be on it? He’s a point a game on a terrible team, and a better LEFT WINGER than anybody on your roster. My concern is that if he ever dares to ask about his future on with the Oilers, he will be demonized as a quitter. I’m starting to want this kid to go to a professionally run franchise, as much as it pains me to say that about our best player. And what about the saying “what have you done for me lately?” There’s a few players on your roster that don’t have hot hands at the moment. Pandering to a “he’ll come good” narrative over the corgis? Isn’t that a sin these days?

  • Batfink

    Nash? E.staal? No way Thornton would be on my team he was avg in Vancouver and will be worse on big ice. I would love to see the toews Richards Nash line reunited but doubt Richards makes the team

  • Oilers4ever

    Halls playing at damn near a point a game (well more than some guys you have on it) and faster than pretty much every guy on it and you say he’s played himself off it. Can I please have some of the koolaid you are drinking. You’re gone and whacked in the head. He’s the only frigging oiler who gives a crap for god sakes. Moron.

      • Batfink

        Same worlds he made less turnovers than Giroux and Duchene? I don’t believe it’s a conspiracy, but the perception of Hall by Hockey Canada is way off. Ruff played him like he’d play a guy he’d been TOLD to take but didn’t want to.

    • 15w40

      Did you post this while wearing your octane suit. There is no Oilers player that should be on team Canada.

      I get that you can’t fly with eagles when you are surrounded by turkeys but when picking a roster of 13 or 14 forwards, nobody on the Oilers roster is in that rarefied air.

      I think I put Bernier ahead of Smith but really the 3rd goaltender is likely not going to get out of his suit.

      Somehow I try to get St Louis on Stamkos’ line

    • I say he’s played his way off my team.

      A year ago, Hall was an offensive dynamo who also drove scoring chances and shots. I thought he should have without question been an Olympian.

      This year he’s still an offensive dynamo but the scoring chances and shots have taken a sharp turn for the worse. I’ll take a guy with defensive problems if he creates more than he gives up, but Hall simply hasn’t been doing that this year the way he did in the past.

      That’s my view. You are welcome to have a different one.

    • S cottV

      Only way to consider him is as a top 6 forward and he is not there.

      Has the speed to be a Team Canada role player but not the head for a 2 way game, at the world level.

      I mean c’mon – he gets confused vs the Ducks – let alone Russia, USA and Sweden….

    • S cottV

      How has Hall play the last three games against the heavier teams or even the heavier teams this year. How did Hall play at the world championships last may. He got benched. It’s easy to look good against the bottom feeders. This is team Canada and ur playing against the best. So u evaluate him against the best players in the league and then select. For me good player but not ready yet. Maybe take him and he doesn’t dress unless someone gets hurt. He ll learn a lot.

      • Oilers4ever

        My point is that he has better numbers than some of these other guys. The coach in the worlds last year was a clown benching Hall… if we recall we won no medal again. At least he tries against the big teams. You can never question his enthusiasm and desire to win. They all gotta learn sometime. I dont care who canada ices for a team. No one is beating Russia on their home turf. And there likely won’t be NHL players in Olympics next time around. Look at the hassle we dealt with for this one.

  • Sorensenator

    Agree with your team. That team should be able to win against any other IF thr goaltending does it’s part. Lou was good enough last time and I really hope he is again.

    For Hall. I don’t blame him that much fir these last 2 games. He is on an awful team that plays an awful system. I’m just concerned if the lightbulb turn on in his head that makes him realize he might get 0 playoff experience and still be stuck on a terrible team when decisions are being made for the next Olympics. Our inept management lead by Lowe might play a part in him missing Another great career opportunity. Will something like this finally make him stop and realize what a dead end team he is stuck on and have him ask for a trade?