GDB 74.0: Auditioning for Canada

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The Oilers and Avalanche are out of the playoffs. The Avalanche haven’t officially been eliminated, but their loss in Calgary on Monday pretty much sealed their fate. They are ten points behind Winnipeg for the final wildcard spot, so both of these teams will be playing for pride and some players will be auditioning for a roster spot at the World Championships.

Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall have all said they’d love to play for Canada, but will they make the team?

Eberle is a lock to make it. He leads all Canadian right wingers in points, including those on playoff bound teams, and unless he gets injured he will be going to Prague.

Canada doesn’t have a lot of right wingers having great seasons on non-playoff teams.

Eberle leads with 58 points and here are the other top-point producers on the right side.

Jarome Iginla          50 pts

Wayne Simmonds   49 pts

Reilly Smith             37 pts

Brad Boyes             35 pts

Shane Doan           32 pts

Iginla never went when he was in Calgary, so I doubt he’d go now. I think Simmonds makes the team, he has 29 goals and he and Claude Giroux would be a nice combo. Doan likely gets an invite, but at his age will he go? I could see a few centres moving to the right wing. If Ottawa goes cold and doesn’t make it then Mark Stone, 51 points, will garner some interest.

On the left wing, Hall has only played 44 games, but he is still 8th in points amongst left wingers not going to the postseason.

Jamie Benn                70pts

Scott Hartnell              50 pts

Patrick Marleau           49 pts

Jonathan Huberdeau  43 pts

Milan Lucic                  40 pts

Brad Marchand            39 pts

Mike Cammalleri          36 pts

Taylor Hall                   32 pts

Benn is a lock. Marleau has been on two Olympic teams, but he will be too old in 2018, so I’m not sure he will want to play more hockey this spring. Hartnell, Huberdeau, Hall and Lucic will be in the mix, but based on Hall’s last two seasons, he should get the call ahead of those three.

Nugent-Hopkins will be in the mix, but he faces the toughest competition.

Claude Giroux    67 pts

Tyler Seguin       65 pts

Joe Thornton      62 pts

Ryan Johansen   61 pts

Logan Couture    58 pts

Sean Monahan    55 pts

Jason Spezza      55 pts

Nugent-Hopkins   54 pts

Patrice Bergeron  51 pts

Matt Duchene       46 pts

Ryan O’Reilly        46 pts

Eric Staal              44 pts

Giroux has produced the most points in the NHL the past four seasons, but he didn’t make the 2014 Olympic team. He deserves to go and I suspect he will want to keep his name in the head of the decision makers at Hockey Canada for 2018. Seguin should be a lock, same with Johansen and Couture.

Monahan is having a great season, 29 goals, and  if the Flames miss out — I expect they will — he will be on the short list. I realize he doesn’t face the toughest competition, Backlund does for Calgary, but many other players don’t face top unit D and very few of them have 29 goals. He and RNH will both get strong consideration.

Bergeron and Staal have been on the Olympic team, so they might want a break, while Matt Duchene was  in Sochi, but like Giroux, I’m sure he wants to be top of mind amongst the Canadian brass.

The centre position is extremely competitive, and Nugent-Hopkins’ recent hot-streak — 15 points in his last eight games — has put him in a spot where Hockey Canada will look at him. Bob Nicholson could send Tom Renney a note regarding RNH.

WHO ELSE…

Nail Yakupov, Oscar Klefbom, Mark Fayne and Martin Marincin might get a look from their respective countries, with the three young players having the best chance. 

With no young Oilers injured, it would benefit the organization to have as many of them play in Prague as possible.

LINEUP…

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The Oilers didn’t skate today, and we won’t know Boyd Gordon’s status until Todd Nelson’s availability at 4 p.m. Gordon’s back seized up during Monday’s game and backs can be very finicky, so I’d rest him and move Matt Hendricks to the middle and put Luke Gazdic on the wing.

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Andrew Ference was also injured in the first period vs. the Jets. It is an upper body injury, and Nelson said he was doubtful for tonight. I expect Keith Aulie to take his place.

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Ben Scrivens gets the start.

QUICK HITS…

  • I’ve noticed many people worried about the lack of points from the league’s top scorers, but last year, outside of Sidney Crosby’s 104 points, only six other players topped 80 points. Ryan Getzlaf had 87, Giroux 86, Seguin 84, Corey Perry 82 and Hall had 80.

    Crosby’s production is down, but we still could have six or seven players reach 80 points again: John Tavares and Crosby have 74, Alex Ovechkin and Jakub Voracek have 73, Nick Backstrom has 72, while Vlad Tarasenko and Benn have 70.

    Scoring across the league is virtually the same as last year, but the focus on team defence, video and shot blocking has cut down on production for elite scorers. It sucks as a fan of offence, and I believe the NHL is getting less exciting each year, but this year’s scoring race isn’t much different than last year outside of Crosby being on another level in 2014.

  • I really hope I don’t have to write another article like this for a long time. They say things happen in threes, but I’m hoping that is not the case in this circumstance. The first article was difficult to write, but the second is just as bad. Sending positive vibes to Michelle and Aaron.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING…

From Mile High Hockey

The Avs opponent Wednesday night is the sad story that is the Edmonton Oilers. At just 53 points and in the basement of the West, the Oilers look to be picking in the top five at the draft for the fifth time in the last six years. If not for the Coyotes’ latest free fall, the Oilers would still be sitting in last place in the West. The Oilers latest defeat came at the hands of the Jets, further injuring the Avs’ playoff chances. Despite the record, the Avs should not overlook the Oilers.

TONIGHT…

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GAME DAY PREDICTION: Avs playoff hopes were dashed in Calgary, and the Oilers take advantage of a downtrodden team. Oilers win 4-2.

OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: RNH continues his torrid pace with two more points, giving him 17 points in his last nine games.

NOT-SO-OBVIOUS GAME DAY PREDICTION: The Oilers out shot the Avalanche stretching their streak of outshooting opponents to six straight games.

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