Star Anaheim Ducks centre Ryan Getzlaf sprained his left ankle in last night’s game between the Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, and from the sounds of it this could be a very severe injury. From the Los Angeles Times:

Ryan Getzlaf, the team’s leading scorer, sprained his left ankle during the second period and left the arena wearing a boot and on crutches. X-rays were negative, but an MRI exam is scheduled for Tuesday.

Canada plays its first Olympic game on February 16, and if Getzlaf is unable to play there are a number of players who could be elevated to his spot on the roster.

Jeff Carter of the Philadelphia Flyers just missed the initial roster, and seems to be the consensus pick as a replacement forward. He was one of a group of players mentioned in an interview by Kevin Lowe as final cuts, and he certainly hasn’t hurt himself with his production since the Olympic team was selected.

Other forwards mentioned by Lowe include Shane Doan, Ryan Smyth, and Mike Fisher. I’d also like to think that Martin St. Louis of the Lightning and Brad Richards of the Stars are somewhere in the mix (EDIT TO ADD: I was correctly chastised in the comments for failing to include Steven Stamkos, who I have since added). What follows is a look at the production of that group of forwards in 2010, ranked by points per game.

Player GP G A PTS +/- PTS/GM
Steven Stamkos 17 11 13 24 5 1.412
Martin St. Louis 17 10 9 19 4 1.118
Shane Doan 18 7 12 19 -1 1.056
Jeff Carter 18 9 7 16 5 0.889
Brad Richards 18 6 10 16 -6 0.889
Ryan Smyth 18 8 5 13 8 0.722
Mike Fisher 18 4 8 12 4 0.667

I see three real candidates here. Mike Fisher is probably out of the running, simply because even earlier in the year there was the sense that he couldn’t keep up his offensive pace. Brad Richards wasn’t mentioned in the Lowe interview and despite a fantastic season hasn’t been as good of late, so he’s probably out too. Finally, I have a real soft spot for Ryan Smyth, but I can’t imagine him being named to the team.

Given the people saying that Carter is the likely choice, and given his improved play of late, I suspect he’ll be named to the team. He isn’t a bad choice by any means, and he brings a lot of things to the table, most notably goal scoring. Shane Doan would be my dark horse candidate; the fact that he plays wing has to be in his favour (even with Getzlaf out, Canada has an abundance of centres) and he would fit perfectly on one of the bottom two lines while still providing some talent.

The guy I would pick is a player I thought should have been named to the initial team. If Canada has a position of weakness, it is at right wing, and Martin St. Louis has represented the country in the past. Given the nature and speed of the tournament that experience would serve him well; he also has extensive playoff experience. I suspect he’ll be overlooked again, however.

UPDATE: Steven Stamkos has to be viewed as another likely candidate, although I tend to think that his age and the fact that he’s still developing as a two-way player will hurt his bid.  Those numbers are very difficult to ignore, however, and I’d have a hard time making a case against him if he were to be added to the team.