A year after Sochi, Team Canada even more dominant on paper for 2016 World Cup

by Feb 23, 10:48 AM
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Team Canada made it look easy a year ago. 

It's a year to the day since Canada beat Sweden to win gold at the Sochi Olympic Games. A 3-0 game has never been more lopsided. Easy to forget, though: Jonathan Toews and Sidney Crosby scored their first goals of the tournament in the gold-medal game.

While Drew Doughty led the team in scoring with six points, we can forget about the offense, because it was a masterful defensive performance. Canada allowed three goals in six games, and only one in the medal round - to Latvia. It controlled the puck and the play in each game. A dominant performance. 

Looking ahead to September 2016 and the World Cup of Hockey, Canada's set to ice an even better team. It's scary who didn't make the trip to Sochi.  

Returning Forwards

Jamie Benn (27 in September 2016)
Patrice Bergeron (31)
Jeff Carter (31)
Sidney Crosby (29)
Matt Duchene (25)
Ryan Getzlaf (31)
Rick Nash (32)
Corey Perry (31)
John Tavares (26)
Jonathan Toews (28)

Additions

Logan Couture (27)
Claude Giroux (28)
Tyler Seguin (24)
Steven Stamkos (26)

Cut

Chris Kunitz (37)
Patrick Marleau (37)
Patrick Sharp (34)
Martin St. Louis (41)

On the Bubble

Taylor Hall (24)
Ryan Johansen (24)
Nathan MacKinnon (21)
Jaden Schwartz (24)

Notes: It's the elder statesmen who are being left off the team ... Canada will always be center-heavy, but talent is talent, and Giroux, Seguin and Stamkos are three of the most dangerous offensive players in hockey ... It's his speed, and so I can't quit Matt Duchene ... It's incredible the different paths Jeff Carter and Mike Richards have taken. Carter had 211 points from 2008 through 2011, and Richards 208. I like Carter on the wing on one of the bottom two lines. ... It'll be the younger guys - Benn, Duchene, Seguin, Stamkos, Tavares - who will have to be relied upon to score ... The bubble guys could make the team even younger, while MacKinnon is a lock for the under-23 team. 

Returning Defensemen

Drew Doughty (26)
Duncan Keith (33)
Alex Pietrangelo (26)
P.K. Subban (27)
Shea Weber (31)

Additions

Brent Burns (31)
Aaron Ekblad (20)
Mark Giordano (32)

Cut

Jay Bouwmeester (32)
Dan Hamhuis (33)

On the Bubble

Kris Letang (29)
Brent Seabrook (31)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (29)

Notes: Cutting 37.5 percent of a defense that allowed three goals in Russia may seem a bit drastic, but you can't keep Giordano off the team, and Ekblad can get the Subban treatment (P.K. played two games in Sochi) ... Ekblad doesn't make this team because of the under-23 squad, which he'll be on, but it's tough to argue he isn't deserving after a masterful rookie year ... You want Brent Burns's beard on the small North American ice, but I won't be mad if Letang or Vlasic are on the final squad. It's truly an embarrassment of riches on the blue line. 

Returning Goalies

Carey Price (29)
Roberto Luongo (37)

Addition

Braden Holtby (27)

Cut

Mike Smith (34)

On the Bubble

Corey Crawford (31)
Marc-Andre Fleury (31)

Notes: Price is the best goalie in hockey, only getting better with age ... I know the argument against Holtby: he hasn't won a Stanley Cup, while Crawford and Fleury have. But Holtby's play this season for a Capitals team that's seemingly always needed a goalie is too difficult to ignore ... Luongo will likely never win a Stanley Cup, and while 37 is certainly old for a netminder, he continues to perform at a high level. I'm more than fine with him as the third-string keeper. Consider his spot this time his Lifetime Achievement Award.