On Tuesday, Steve Yzerman is set to announce the roster for Team Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Hopefully there will be no blow back like USA Hockey had after the ESPN article by Scott Burnside, when comments made by Brian Burke about U SA forward Bobby Ryan were made public. I'm sure that the executives from Hockey Canada will be a lot more respectful of the players that were not selected, at least to the public . USA hockey and Team Canada both had very difficult decisions to make in regards to their final roster. No matter what, good players will be left off. In fact great players could be left off. The fact of the matter is Canada could probably field at least two full rosters capable of winning a gold medal. The depth in Canada cannot be matched by any other country in the world. This makes it very difficult to limit the Olympic team roster and a mere 25 players. Just by the numbers alone, great players are going to be left off.
One important factor is to remember that this is not a list of the top 25 players in Canada. This has to be our roster made up of players who can come together in a short term setting and put their egos aside and do what's best for the team. Not all hockey players are able to do that and it is the special ones that are at the elite level. Another factor is you need a variety of role players. It is very improbable that you're going to be able to use a top six forward as your fourth line winger. That's what makes the debate for the roster so varied from person to person. Depending on each individual's criteria the roster can take on the variety of looks. Sure there are some locks of the team but there are just as many other players who would be good selections that may not get the chance.
On February 7th 2013 I made a post with V1 of my pre-Olympic team. Looking back I am a little surprised at how little has changed between then and now but there have been a few additions and a few subtractions.
Here's the roster that not only what I like to see but believe has a pretty good chance of being close to what we see unveiled on Tuesday morning at the Hockey Canada press conference.
Steven Stamkos: Provided that he is able to come back from his broken leg in timin time he is a lock on the top line.
Sydney Crosby: Also a lock and will likely be the captain for Team Canada.
Patrick Sharp: He has had a great season, skates well it can finish with the best of them.
Ryan Getzlaf: Probably the most dominant center playing in the league today
Corey Perry: I am not a big Perry fan but you can't overlook the number city puts up and the chemistry he has with Getzlaf.
John Tavares: He is one of the bright young stars in the NHL a natural goal scorer and should be able to make the transition to play the wing.
Jonathan Towes: A two time Stanley Cup winner, captain of the Blackhawks and a guy who just knows how to win.
Eric Staal: The ability to move to the wing and be productive and has proven in various international competitions that he is more than capable of accepting any role given to him by the coach.
Joe Thornton: What was said about Staal also applies to Joe. He is a tremendous play-maker with the ability of playing whatever role is required of him.
Patrice Bergeron: Could be the X-factor to this entire team. A lot of people will overlook him because of his numbers (which are not that bad offensively) but there is no one on the team you would want more to take a critical face-off or kill a penalty then him.
Jamie Benn: Has had a good season and so far, can be both the play-maker or a scorer and is a decent skater capable of playing on the big international Ice.
Mike Richards: What was said about Bergeron and Towes applies to Richards's as well. He is not a sniper but is a good two way player, a leader, can kill a penalty, will play any role. He just wins.
Claude Giroux: Started off the season slow recovering from an off-season injury but has heated up of late and has the ability to play a variety of roles.
Matt Duchane: has great offensive upside, is a good skater, and could be a good special teams asset.
Brent Seabrook: Played it well in Vancouver and seems to work well with Keith in Chicago. A solid defenseman who can play both the physical game and also as an offensive upside.
Duncan Keith: Leads the NHL and points for defenseman, can quarterback the first power play unit.
Drew Doughty: Proved his worth four years ago in Vancouver as a youngster. So all defensemen top to bottom
Alex Pietrangelo: Smooth skating, has a big shot, solid defensively and has good hockey sense.
Jay Bowmeester: Plays with Pietrangelo in St. Louis, an exceptional skater and is an efficient puck moving defenseman
P.K. Subban: Defending Norris Trophy winner as top NHL defensemen. He may not be the most defensively responsible player but in a short tournament where goals could be at a premium having someone with his skating ability and creativity may outweigh any defense of liabilities. Even if he is only a power play specialist.
Shea Weber: A solid all around defenseman. He has a booming shot, is a physical player, and also strong skater.
Marc -Edward Vlasic: I've not seen him play hardly at all this year and to be honest the only reason I have him on this list is because he appears on just about everybody else's projection list. I know that he is a good player that did not realize that he should be considered good enough for team Canada.
Roberto Luongo: Will likely going into the Olympics as the number one goalie. It is very possible that he will not and the Olympics in that role.
Carey Price: Will see action at some point and could very well end up being the goaltender of record at the end of the tournament.
Mike Smith: It is unlikely as the third goalie that he will see any time on the ice barring an injury. He seems like the type of player who can handle this will roll. Smith also has the ability to be a great puck handler and can act as and other defensemen to start offensive rushes.
Like I said before can it could easily field two teams and good players will be left off such as a case for my list. The guys I have on the bubble include. Martin St. Louis, Chris Kunitz (only because everybody else has him on their list), Logan Couture, and Jeff Carter and Kris Letang.
One name that keeps coming up on a variety of people's lists is Rick Nash. I am not a Nash fan and never have been. He seems to be a decent player that I've never trusted him and do not understand why he gets the height that he does from so many people in the hockey world. I did not think he was that great in Columbus, nor has he proved much in New York since being traded. I certainly do not believe he is getting anything close to warrant a spot on Team Canada and was never on my radar. With that said he probably will make the team when did is announced on Tuesday and being one that I will debate against.
All in all it is fun to speculate who will don the Maple Leaf on their chest at the Olympics and represent our country. Where can doubt will finish is anyone's guess. The Americans will have a strong team, the it hometown Russians will have a lot of pressure to win a gold medal in front of their home crowd. Sweden always seems to get overlooked but may possess one of the most dangerous rosters top to bottom and has to be considered a gold medal favorite. There will be a lot of land mines along the way for every team. There will be no clear path in gold this year.
As a side note, the team that gets named likely will not be the team you see as there are a lot of games between now and then and the way players are falling due to injuries...expect at least a few tweaks.
Let The Debate Begin!