Tuesday Tidbits: World Cup rosters, goalies and The Hip

Tuesday-Tidbits-e1380592647135

There will be plenty of water cooler debate this week as the eight teams in the World Cup of Hockey will announce their final seven roster spots on Friday.

Four Oilers are already on teams. Connor McDavid will play for North America (U24), Andrej Sekera and Leon Draisaitl are on Team Europe, while Lauri Korpikoski will skate for Finland.

Will Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins be on team Canada and North America?

RNH seemed like a lock to make the team when the format was announced, but the surprising addition of JT Miller to the team, and the play of Auston Matthews, Alex Galchenyuk, Mark Scheifele, Boone Jenner, Robby Fabbri, and Jonathan Drouin means RNH is far from a lock to make the final roster.

RNH does have experience on his side. He and Sean Couturier (already on the roster) are the only forwards who’ve played 300+ NHL games. GM Peter Chiarelli and his staff discussed the need for some experience so that bodes well for Nugent-Hopkins.

Centres McDavid, Jack Eichel, Sean Monahan and Sean Couturier have already been named to the team. Schiefele also plays centre, and he shoots right, which will help him because this group has very few right shots. Schiefele will likely play RW. I could see Chiarelli adding RNH to play third line centre and move Eichel to the wing. I don’t think he wants two rookies as his top-two centres. Monahan has had two excellent years and I suspect he will play on a line with his Calgary Flames teammate, Johnny Gaudreau

Matthews isn’t officially a member of NHLPA, but after watching him at the World Championships it is obvious he’ll play for the Toronto Maple Leafs next season after they draft him first overall on June 24th.

McDavid, Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin and Fabbri were all NHL rookies this past season. Will Chiarelli want five rookie forwards on his 13-man roster? We will find out Friday.

When the NHL announced the tournament last September, most pundits had RNH on the team. It would be quite the surprise if he didn’t make the final roster, but today it looks like a realistic possibility due the play of his competitors. 

I wrote an article about Taylor Hall that will come out later today on the Edmonton Journal website. I’ll just say I would have him on team Canada, especially after watching how Bill Peters used him at the World Championships. But Hall, like RNH, is in a really tough battle to make the final roster.

Peters’ trust in him, and Hall’s ability to score at EV have him on my roster. Over the past four seasons only Sidney Crosby (2.71 points/60) and Jamie Benn (2.54) have been more productive than Hall (2.49 pts/60) in the entire NHL. Canada has some excellent PP players, but few produce like Hall at EV and in a tournament like this where penalties are rare, EV scoring matters even more.

QUICK HITS…

Speedbag

  • Canada’s blueline depth on the right side is very deep with Shea Weber and Drew Doughty already on the team. I see P.K Subban and Kris Letang losing out to Alex Pietrangelo and Brent Burns. The latter two have been excellent in the playoffs.
  • The battle for the one spot on the left side of the defence is wide open. Jay Bouwmeester plays with Pietrangelo and they were paired together at the Olympics. He’s in a battle with TJ Brodie, Mark Giordano, Jake Muzzin and possibly Karl Alzner. Mike Babcock has stated they like the left-right combos, but will they surprise everyone and fill the three remaining spots with three righties? I doubt it, but I could understand if they elected to go that route.
  • My four forward spots include Corey Perry, Matt Duchene, Hall and my sentimental pick, Joe Thornton.
  • North America needs to add three D-men as well. Aaron Ekblad, Morgan Reilly, Seth Jones and Ryan Murray were announced in March. Colton Parayko is lock in my eyes. He’s been incredible for the Blues. Shayne Gostisbehere likely played his way on the team and I’ll go with Dougie Hamilton as well.
  • Had Oscar Klefbom been healthy all season, I think he’d have been in the mix to play for Sweden, but his freak staph infection will keep him off the final roster.
  • I thought Mike Sullivan’s decision to go with Marc-Andre Fleury in game five was odd. Fleury hadn’t played in months and it showed. Now he goes back to Murray needing him to win two elimination games.
  • Jake Allen really struggled last night for the Blues. The first goal was terrible. He was decent in game four, but the Blues had a 2-0 lead ten minutes in and led 4-0 midway through the second period. Last night, he looked shaky from the start. Ken Hitchcock has a tough decision in game six. I’d go back to Brian Elliott, who helped them win the first two rounds. Coaches would never bench one of their top forwards or D-men, so I find it odd how often we see them switch goalies. Elliott and Murray had been no more inconsistent than some of the Blues and Penguins better players.
  • For pure entertainment, I’d argue the NBA playoffs have been more exciting than the NHL this year. I’ve watched more NBA playoffs than the NHL. What about you?
  • I’m not a music expert. I like all different kinds of music. I would buy cassettes and CDs that featured multiple artists, moreso than individual bands, but I did purchase one Tragically Hip cassette. I saw them live twice. Once in a small venue in Red Deer in 1991, and again at Northlands Coliseum a few years later. I don’t recall many other concerts from 20 years ago, but I have vivid memories of both of those nights. Many of my hockey teammates were much bigger fans, and they used to play the Hip regularly in the dressing room. My friends knew the lyrics to every song. I didn’t, but I appreciated their music and they were always around many of my best memories from the early 1990s.

    Gord Downie has a great voice. Their songs resonated with Canadians. Their lyrics were about our great country and they surrounded them with outstanding riffs and a wide array of beats that made  their songs sound different. Their music reminds me of junior hockey and great times with my friends. For me, they are one of the few bands who evoke memories of past friendships, and it was sad to hear Gord has terminal brain Cancer. I wish him and his family all the best.

Recently by Jason Gregor:  

  • @Hallsy4

    Would love to see Jumbo Joe on the team, and since the Oil can’t win it this year he may as well. Gregor, out of curiosity where did you play Jr hockey?

  • Shredder

    “For pure entertainment, I’d argue the NBA playoffs have been more exciting than the NHL this year. I’ve watched more NBA playoffs than the NHL. What about you?”

    I think that a lot of Canadians feel this way. Sometimes I wonder about how fans of different leagues are shifting one way or another, like a sport vs. sport kind of competition. Football has overtaken Baseball in the US, but it wasn’t always this way. Basketball is making a big push internationally, and Soccer is making a huge push into North America. Hockey is trying in Europe but getting little traction elsewhere.

    In my mind I picture Soccer having the biggest gains over the next decade, basketball second, with football, hockey and baseball all having relative losses.

      • vetinari

        “There’s no simple explanation for anything important any of us do

        And, yeah, the human tragedy consists in the necessity of living with the consequences

        Under pressure
        Under pressure

        Courage, my word
        It didn’t come, it doesn’t matter”

  • Spydyr

    Shocking and very sad to hear of Gord Downie’s illness. The Hip’s music means a lot to me personally especially the late eighties and early nineties period.

    My thoughts go out to Gord Downie and his family.

  • McRaj

    Coming into the year, I thought Nuge was a lock to make his team and Hall on the bubble. Now, I would think that Hall without a doubt deserves to make the team. He showed last year that he can play with Sid (not an easy task) and this year he was one of the leaders on a relatively young team Canada.

    Nuge on the other hand only deserves to make the team based on experience. Performance wise, it can be argued that a lot of the player’s Gregor listed have played better and/or had better seasons.

    In the end though I believe that both Nuge (due to Experience and two-way reputation) and Hall (deservedly so) will make their respective team’s. Do both deserve to be there? That’s a question which can be debated and I’m sure I will get flack for it, but Hall for sure deserves to be but Nuge may get the nod due to past reputation.

    • Jason Gregor

      Curious why?

      Prelim games in Olympics are lopsided in many cases. Many Nations are not competitive.

      World Cup teams more evenly matched. Sure, maybe not same Patriotic feel due to NA and Europe teams, but the quality of competition will be much higher.

      • Mark Lesser

        I think the addition of a Young Stars team and a Team Europe has neutered this tournament. How can I take team Canada seriously when McDavid isn’t allowed to play? Galchenyuk was amazing down the stretch, but he can’t play for the USA. I don’t see how Marian Hossa gets excited about playing for a Team Europe.

        Aside from that, I like that the Olympics doesn’t have the inherent bias of being played on North American soil. There may be a reason the US and Canada met for the finals in 2002 and 2010, yet it was Sweden v Finland in 2006.

        I also like the tradition and history behind the Olympics.

        While the 1987 Canada Cup and the 1996 World Cup were incredible tournaments, I think the Olympics has provided an even better venue for the world’s top players.

        It bothers me when Bettman seems to suggest that 1998 and 2006 were flops while 2002 and 2010 were great. All the tournaments have been great.

        I realize time zones and TV are a concern. However a game starting at 11am in South Korea would be a 9pm start in the Eastern time zones of the US and Canada. Games starting at 8pm in South Korea would start at noon for most of Europe. I think this is a problem that can be solved.

        I realize there is little economic incentive to participate in the Olympics for the NHL owners, but sometimes bosses give in to the wish of their employees. And it seems as if the NHLPA wants to go.

        • Seanaconda

          I hope they just do both every 4 years then there is a tournament to look forward to every 2 years.

          And with the young stars team it gives alot of guys a chance to play in a big tournament that never would make team canada. The u24 team hurts the states more than canada. Mcdavid is the only young guy I think would be competing for a spot this year.

          Team Europe gives guys like Kopitar and drai a chance to actually win.

        • Serious Gord

          They will do both tournaments.

          They are different – that’s obvious. One is much more patriotically driven which is ironic as the modern olympics were supposed to be above all that.

          But the competition and the style of hockey has always been better in the Canada cup and will be in the World Cup (i do wish they would call it the Canada cup and resurrect the nickel maple leaf trophy).

          The funky format is like the wildcard in football and baseball – it adds to the uncertainty and gets more stars (read Canadian players) into the tournament.

    • Serious Gord

      I think it will be far more entertaining hockey:

      All teams will be competitive
      North American ice
      North American rules and refs
      A desire of the league for it to be entertaining

  • camdog

    Slovenia vs Slovakia, Norway vs Austria and Latvia vs Switzerland may be quality to some but to me I’d rather watch an under 24 North American team with McDavid and Mathews take on the World. This tournament will have the most competitive field ever assembled.

  • Van isl Oiler

    The NBA playoffs have been very exciting this year I agree. Not sure I’ve watched more basketball than hockey, about 50/50 I’d say. I wonder if the Raptors weren’t still in it how interested Canada would be, but watching them defeat the Cav’s the last two games has been edge of your seat entertainment. The NBA has tweaked their game over the years and it flows much better.(except for all those time outs) I wish Bettman and his merry band could do the same because calling back a goal on an offside that happened 60 seconds ago certainly isn’t adding anything for me.

    • Serious Gord

      Offside replay needs to stop. It is a one-way call. Blown offside calls that stop the play aren’t reversed. It like baseball having reviews of strike calls but not balls.

      The league needs to accept it was a dumb idea abandon it and move on. Not a single fan will be upset by it.

  • @Hallsy4

    Anybody else notice Drake and Dwayne Casey hug while the game was still on? Pure Gold. I’d love to see the Raps win but I still wouldn’t bet against Lebron. But I didn’t expect them to win the last two either. Anyways, back to the Oilers… Trade some of the mall

  • S cottV

    Tough one on PC with RNH and conflict of interest perception.

    To me – if the group consensus has it very close between RNH and another or others to make that team, PC should defer away from RNH.

    It would be the right thing to do.

    Nuge is a very good player but let’s face it, he had a tough year and the unbiased competition is fierce.

    The injury didn’t help but there really should have been a better push back, with the emergence of McD and Draisaitl.

    OK – maybe McD is no contest but when RNH looked out and saw what Draisaitl was doing, I really think he should of said – ok screw this, I’m not losing my spot to a couple of rookies and upped his deal.

    It didn’t happen and I wouldn’t be surprised to see PC go in a different direction, as it relates to Team NA.

  • pkam

    @JG,

    What do you think about Michael Matheson for team NA?

    I didn’t know about him at all before the WC. IMO, he was arguably the best defenseman in the young Canada defense.

  • CDNinATL

    I’ve seen the Hip live twice. Once in Edmonton during the 90’s. Then here in Atlanta about 8 years ago. Small club that held something like 2000 people and was full of Canadians!! That was the same tour that they sold out Air Canada Center in Toronto for 2 shows. And I got the see them in a nice small venue. It was AWESOME!!

  • Slats 101

    This article really shows how far RNH has slipped as an elite player, RNH is a good player, but he’s definitely not elite. RNH is a 2nd line centre at best.

  • Slats 101

    I don’t care about the world cup of hockey, I just want our players to get through the tournament without injuries, so they can have a good season and get the Oilers into the playoffs. This non-playoff streak has to end

  • KevCantDance

    I’m going for Team North America all the way. If they win, it means Connor probably had his coming out party, plus it will be the end of this stupid format forever. #NorthAmerc

    • Seanaconda

      I’f team north America wins and gets good ratings they will keep it the same. If Noone watches they will prob change it.

      What if they just let canada and the states have first pick of the young guys if they want them and then have a team north America young or all ages with the leftovers.

      Every year it’s canada could ice 3 Olympic teams so why not have 2. Let team Europe take guys not taken by their countries too.

  • Frank Rizza

    I love The NBA. Basketball is by far my second favourite sport. Besides the 82 Oiler games I watched this year, I probably watched 35 Golden State games. Man that’s a fun team to watch. I hope they can come back tonight and in this series.

    As for the World Cup, it’s definitely no Olympics. It’s gonna be good hockey for sure but I don’t think I can get emotionally invested in who wins. I’m cheering for Connor and I’m cheering for no oiler injuries. Other than that I don’t care who wins. In fact I kinda hope the u24 or team Europe wins. It will just be so awkward to say.

  • The Raptors games have been really well done. The announcers are great. The analysis is insightful and delivered by guys who have a clue and they are getting great viewership numbers that are kicking the NHLs butt on a head to head night.

    Heady times for bball in canada.