Looking at the potential players for Canada’s Olympic Team can be pretty intimidating, especially at forward. This team should be loaded and Steve Yzerman and Mike Babcock are certainly going to get their pick of the litter. This team is extremely deep down the middle and some guys are going to have to move from center to wing in order to make the team, which shouldn’t be a problem for guys at this level. Guessing the lines isn’t the objective, merely getting the names on the roster right is good enough for me. When it comes to lines for a team as deep as this, it’s really anyone’s guess what Babcock will want to do.
Chris Kunitz/Sidney Crosby/Steven Stamkos
Corey Perry/Ryan Getzlaf/Martin St. Louis
John Tavares/Johnathan Toews/Jamie Benn
Patrick Marleau/Joe Thornton/Matt Duchene
Rick Nash/Patrice Bergeron
Bubble: Logan Couture, Patrick Sharp, Eric Staal, Jordan Eberle, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin
This team is stupid talented. It’s nearly impossible to pick 14 forwards without slighting someone. Also, of these 14 forwards, 9 are technically centers. If Canada was a professional hockey team, they would be trading these centers for goalies and wingers. This forward group would have a fantastic blend of size and skill and would impose their will on a lot of teams at the Olympics.
The only reason I would have Matt Duchene on the roster over Logan Couture is Duchene’s skating ability and his penalty kill ability. I also had a really difficult time leaving Patrick Sharp off the roster, and it’s highly likely he makes the team instead of Rick Nash. You do have to design a team that can play all facets off the game, which is why some very good players are going to get slighted.
Steven Stamkos may have a broken leg, but he is already skating after four weeks, he is going to play in the Olympics. He’s too good not to take. At worst, they would take him and dress him as the 13th forward and just use him on the power play. This lineup could be completely wrong, like I said, there are so many options it is really tough to predict who Yzerman will want. The one player that I put on this roster that I think is most likely to be left off is Rick Nash. He’s only played 16 games, and while he has 11 points, he’s a -3. Couture, Sharp and Staal are all having better seasons and guys like Sharp and Staal would still provide veteran leadership.
Duncan Keith/Brent Seabrook
Shea Weber/P.K. Subban
Alex Pietrangelo/Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester/Kris Letang
Bubble: Dion Phaneuf, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic
The blue line isn’t as loaded as you might expect it to be. They have a lot of offensive defenseman, which is why I think they’ll end up taking Brent Seabrook to help balance it out. I’m not a Jay Bouwmeester fan, but he’s been having a pretty good year and I’d expect him to be the 8th defenseman in this young group. They have a lot of minute munchers that can put points on the board and their powerplay should be lethal because of it.
Bubble: Josh Harding, Mike Smith, Corey Crawford
If I’m picking this team, Josh Harding is on it. But, because of his MS and the fact that the other goalies have more International experience, I think they’ll go with Price, Fleury and Luongo. Carey Price has to be the clear-cut starter, he’s been playing fantastic all year and is the best canadian goalie. Fleury has rebounded well this year and has played well enough to get his name back on the roster. Luongo was the starter the last go-around in Vancouver, and I think the fact that he has been playing decently will get his name back on the roster, even if he doesn’t have a chance of playing. It also helps him that Mike Smith hasn’t played well and Corey Crawford is banged up.
Anyone from the bubble can make this team. Hell, there are people that I didn’t list on the bubble that could find their way onto this team, at least forwards-wise. This team doesn’t have to be announced until January 7th, so a lot can change in the next three weeks, especially if there are injuries. This team is loaded and they will obviously be the favorites along with Russia to win gold. If you need to understand just how loaded the Canadian forwards are, just take a look at their stats.