sid and lu

It doesn’t make a ton of sense to write about a roster that’s going to be assembled after three months of NHL play right now, but it also doesn’t make any sense to read about it, and welp, here we both are. As Bruce Arthur said on Twitter today: Canada’s Olympic camp (and the States’) aren’t going to make a lick of a difference come time for the actual tournament in February, but they will provide us with a little hockey methadone in the meantime, so let’s take our medicine and feel better.

The final team will consist of 25 players, with the most logical makeup being three goaltenders, eight defencemen, and 14 forwards.

If I were Team Canada’s GM, and I had to assemble our team’s Olympic roster before dinner today, here’s who I’d end up with. First, up front:

Forwards

The Locks

Because some decisions are absolute no-brainers, I won’t waste your time with many words here:

sidney crosby 6Sidney Crosby

Jonathan Toews

John Tavares

Patrice Bergeron

Well, that’s four centers right there, but I’ve said this before and will again I’m sure: this isn’t an actual problem. A dog could learn to play wing, and I say that as a winger, a position I chose to play because a dog can play it and I liked to focus on other things, like trying to score goals. So yeah, take 14 centers for all I care, and have them play right and left dog.

Steven Stamkos

The Definitely, Yeps

We’re going to need to be definitive about more than five forwards, so let’s just stamp a few other passports:

Claude Giroux

logan couture 3Logan Couture

Mike Richards

Jeff Carter

Corey Perry

Eric Staal

Sometimes you forget Staal is only 28, six-foot-four, 205, and coming off a year in which he compiled 53 points in 48 games. Woosh.

The Pretty Clearlys

The guy below is basically in the category above, I just need to see him get off to a decent start. I’m a believer though.

Taylor Hall

The Rest

We’re at 12, so that leaves us two available spots to fill. Remember, I believe that position shouldn’t play a huge role up front given that there’s a surplus of quality centers, and you know my thoughts on playing wing.

ryan getlaf 2My choices:

Ryan Getzlaf

Rick Nash

The Group To Keep An Eye On

It’s extremely unlikely that after half a brutal hockey season all the above players are available, and even if they are, their play over those three months will obviously have a huge bearing on the final selections. Here’s who could sneak onto my roster:james neal

Matt Duchene

James Neal

Patrick Sharp

Jordan Staal

James Neal and Patrick Sharp are amazing pure triggers who are strong on pucks all over the ice, but I’d go with Matt Duchene as my first choice because, as @AnthraxJones has mentioned before, the dude is vapor. He’s so quick he creates a ton, and I think he’s going to have a great year. Killed me to leave him off my team.

I was really, really close to leaving Rick Nash off, largely because of the names above. I tend to think that in hockey today, youth goes farther than experience. I realize nobody is picking Rick Nash for his “experience,” but young guys – guys like Jordan Staal – are just so freaking hungry and energetic they’re just a b**ch to play. They keep bringing it in waves, and that tends to overtake defenders.

It’s the Olympics though, and everyone gets up for every game, so I decided not to make the foolish decision to leave a talent like Rick Nash off the roster. I just gave it some serious thought. (I also think he’s not the best at working with linemates after a career of carrying whoever he’s with, but that wasn’t enough for me to give him the axe either.) If he gets off to a slow start though…I may reconsider.

Nopes

Martin St. Louis (victim of me being ageist, other options)martin st. louis ripped

Chris Kunitz (eating off Sid)

Andrew Ladd (not on that level)

Milan Lucic (I’m not opposed to seeing how his year goes and giving him a thought)

Brad Marchand (see: Ladd)

Jordan Eberle (It’s just a dang tough team to make, but if he makes a step, I’d give him the Lucic treatment)

There’s also a number of players that weren’t at orientation camp with a chance – guys like Jason Spezza, Joe Thornton, Jamie Benn and Evander Kane. I’ll likely deal with them in a follow-up post, or at the very least the comments. Too many moving parts, so let’s just keep this simple for now.

On to defenders!

***

Defensemen

The Locks

shea webetrShea Weber

Drew Doughty

Duncan Keith

P.K. Subban

I realize there was some fuss over the following tweets from Bob McKenzie today:

No PK Subban, Norris winner. I can see what Bob could be thinking: on a team loaded with offensive talent up front, you might think about going with someone lower risk on the back-end. (To be clear, I have no idea if that’s Bob’s justification for his group, just guessing.)

But come on now. PK Subban is freaking amazing, why would we draw the line at taking our most talented players here? He’s young, fast, hits hard and creates offense. I don’t even hate his defensive game, given his ability to recover when he makes mistakes. He’s on my team without a second thought.

Here’s Your Jersey

It gets tough from here, it really does.

brent seabrookI’m taking…

Brent Seabrook

Kris Letang

…because I believe he plays bigger than his size, and he makes great decisions with the puck, a huge strength on big ice. I’ve written to explain why here. Also…

Extras

Alex PietrangeloIt only gets tougher. My winners:

Alex Pietrangelo

I think he’s a crazy-talented future star in the NHL.

Jay Bouwmeester

Mr. Beige himself is just the picture of reliability. If one of the Canadian d-men gets hurt, I’m comfortable plugging him in and letting him eat minutes.

So, the cuts! I like the top guy in the category below, but…

Close But No Cigar

dion phaneuf 3Dion Phaneuf

but, sometimes I question his hockey sense. I’m not particularly comfortable rolling the dice on a guy prone to mixing in the odd brain fart in a one-and-done elimination tournament.

Dan Hamhuis

Hamhuis was real close to making my team, but I imagined a scenario where a couple guys get hurt, and Canada’s 8th d-man is on the ice. Wouldn’t you rather it be Bouwmeester than Hamhuis, even by a little bit?

The Outlier

marc staalMarc Staal

After last year’s horrific injury, I don’t know what to expect. If he can come back and be who was before the puck to the eye, I think he definitely makes my team.

One thing to note is that the d-men I’ve picked make for six right shots and two left shots, which the Canadian management apparently doesn’t love (according to Bob McKenzie). They want three or four left shots. This probably means that Staal just needs to get back to near where he was, and they’d take him over a right-shot player.

Nope

dan boyleDan Boyle (we’ll see how his season goes, though)

Karl Alzner

Marc Methot

Marc-Eduoard Vlasic

Travis Hamonic

Mike Green (we have enough pure offense on the back end)

On to the goalies.

***

The Goaltenders

The Lock

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks - Game TwoRoberto Luongo

Whether he starts or not, he’s going to be on the team.

The Front-Runners

Carey Price

carey price

Corey Crawford

That’s just where we currently sit. These are the best Canadian goalies based on what we’ve seen before.

The Hopefuls

It all really comes down to the starts these two get off to next year.

Braden Holtbybraaden holtby

Mike Smith

Holtby has shown the confidence to play in big moments undeterred, and has never seen an NHL season end without him posting a save percentage of .920 or above. And, if Mike Smith gets off to a hot start early, who knows.

Let’s look at the big picture.

***

So here we are. I’ve selected 14 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders. Here’s what my team looks like, though the lines and pairings are completely up for shuffling. Get the right talent on the roster, and figure it out from there.

Forwards

Stamkos – Crosby – Bergeron

Tavares – Toews – Giroux

Perry – Getzlaf – E. Staal

Carter – Richards – Couture

Hall – Nash

Defensemen

Keith – Weber

Doughty – Letang

Subban – Seabrook

Bouwmeester – Pietrangelo

Goaltenders

Luongo

Price

Crawford

So that’s my Team Canada, as selected from the players who were invited to orientation camp – there’s obviously lots of room for change over the next handful of months.

Weigh in below with what you‘d change, or send me an internet high-five for my awesome decision-making. Your call.

Comments (42)

  1. Nicely done.

    I think my only beef would be with Kris LeTang. who is terrible actually playing, you know, defense. However, you may be correct because of how valuable his skating and puck skills would be on big ice.

    Might be my American bias, but that goaltending has a chance to implode (and i like Bobby Lu)…rest of team probably too talented to make that matter though.

    • He’s Canada’s best skater on D. Can’t leave him home on the big ice.

      In Vancouver, TC’s best defensemen were its best skaters (Keith and Doughty), not its best overall player at D (at the time, that was Pronger). Likewise, nobody would ever confuse Kris Letang’s defensive ability with that of, say, 2006′s Adam Foote, but guys like Foote just got abused on the big surface, where skating trumps everything.

      I mean, there’s a reason Teams like Switzerland and Norway can hang with the better teams. They don’t beat them, but they don’t get laughed out of the building, either. That reason is that they can ignore pride and politics and just take the country’s 20 or so very best skaters (instead of having, like, Aleksey Morozov on the second line as some sort of vindication of the KHL, despite the fact that he’s an awkward skater with a wide turning radius who’s slow stopping and starting).

  2. As an American, I am looking forward to Quick stealing the Gold this year. No flubbed Crosby shot to carry them to the gold.

    • I love how the US needing to rally from 2 goals down just to force OT (including a last-second goal just to tie it up) has somehow become Canada fluking their way into a win.

    • Flubbed? Guess if it doesn’t go cheddar it’s flubbed…

  3. I’d prefer a number of other guys over Carter, with Duchene and Nash being the most prominent.

    • Yeah, I think you gotta take Duchene for the same reason you gotta take Letang. He just covers too much ground to leave at home.

  4. This is based on the guys who were invited to camp, right? Where would you place Jamie Benn if he had gotten an invite instead of, say, Kunitz or Ladd?

  5. Come on, Jason. You won’t find a lower maintenance, safer player than Dan Hamhuis. Plus he had more of an offensive role when he was in Nashville. I know I’m totally biased, but I really want to see the bashful, shy, skilled defenseman from Smithers get his moment on the big stage.

  6. how the hell is Jeff Carter a yep? guess you had to put some flame bait in there somewhere

    • I think its because he put up some nice numbers last year and he has chemistry with Richards

      • As much as I love the Legion of Douche (or Dry Island, or Hockey’s Edge and Christian*), Carter isn’t going to be as good this year. Shooting percentage is likely unsutainable.

        * Mostly because Carter and Christian are pretty much identical twins now.

        • While he is not likely to score the 45 goals he was on pace for, he still is a damn near lock for 30+. Guy is a gifted scorer.

  7. …you couldn’t even mention Jason Spezza in the “Nope’s”? Not even a “I’d consider him if he were healthy”? Holy crap. Did he kick your cat off a roof or something?

  8. hamhuis does not get nearly enough love… he is by far the best D on vancouver and carries the rest of the corps on his shoulders and makes them look good. you can probably tell i am a hamhuis fan

  9. Sounds like I need an addendum for the guys who weren’t invited to camp. Jamie Benn, Evander Kane, Jason Spezza and Cam Ward are probably all worth some commentary.

    And yes, this is the real Justin Bourne, I’m just commenting from home!

    • I’d include Thornton on that list, and I’d even put Reimer there in the “if he can prove himself in the season” category. If he can stay healthy and match his performance last season, Reimer deserves a serious look.

  10. Seabrook did not look good in 2010 in Vancouver. They thought the chemistry between him and keith would be worth it but it was not. Don’t think he’d do any better on the big ice.

  11. I know that his contract with the Flames was high and that led to a lot of negative reviews, and I can’t speak specifically to past statements JB has made toward him during his time with the Flames but did Jay Bouwmeester’s reputation suddenly do a 180 degree turn once he was shipped out to St Louis?

    He goes from pariah on the Flames to Olympic defensemen in two months? Not to say that I think he’s a bad player cause he’s not but why the sudden love for Bouwmeester?

  12. JB: just wondering what your rationale would be for putting Couture ahead of Hall (and needing to see a bit more of Hall)… They’ve both played 3 seasons, and Hall has a significantly higher PPG (although he’s played fewer games due to injury).

    I know he’s comparatively young, but Hall was quietly 2nd in the Western Conference in scoring last year (6th in the entire NHL in 5×5 Pts/60) all while playing tough comp. Assuming he keeps it up (or even finds another gear) over the first half of the 2013-14 season, he needs to have a more prominent role than 13th F, IMO.

  13. I’m ok with this list. Only think I’m scared about is Giroux. This whole golf injury thing might effect his play in ways we don’t know.

    What if he’s playing with a 0.64 point per game pace when selection time comes? Do you still take him no matter what?

  14. I’m just throwing this out there. I’m a huge Habs fan, and that being said, I still don’t think Carey Price should get the nod. He puts up good numbers for the most part, but the guy has won ONE playoff series since coming up to the NHL, I worry about his ability to perform in the clutch. I don’t know if he’ll be able to step up to this pressure.

  15. If St. Louis is not on the team again, they deserve to lose.

  16. how the hell do you decide PK must go based on the fact that he’s the reigning Norris winner, and deicde Jeff Carter must go ( i’m assuming because he plays well with Mike Richards? cause i can’t think of any other reason ) and not send Martin St. Louis ( reigning art ross winner, and amazing chemistry with Steven Stamkos?)

  17. Jabe O’Meester is not better than Hamhuis.

    Also Richards is not really that great. Would replace him with Duchene (not in terms of position, in terms of roster spot.)

    • Mike Richards is one of the best 2-way players in the league, puts up decent numbers and has won at every level. he has also a key member of the 2010 gold medal winning team. Duchene doesn’t quite have the experience and im not being biased just because Richards is my favourite player

      • Richards’ scoring numbers are down since coming to Los Angeles. Here is the list of points per 60 mins of 5v5 ice time among forwards over the last two years. Richards is down at #290; by definition, a top-six forward should be in the top 180 (30 teams, six top-six F per team).

        http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/ratings.php?db=201113&sit=5v5&type=individual&teamid=0&pos=forwards&minutes=100&disp=1&sort=HARTp&sortdir=DESC

        Defense counts, but Canada can find guys who are good defensively have been much better offensively in the recent past. (Or, in the case of Jordan Staal, a guy who is basically just as good defensively and is slightly better offensively.) Bergeron, Toews, Giroux, Getzlaf, Carter, Perry, and Couture are all pretty strong defensively, so it’s not like defensive ability needs to be a priority down in the lineup.

  18. Stamkos – Crosby – Bergeron???

    Tavares – Toews – Giroux???

    No.No.No. Top line for max hustle, laser sharp-angle shooting, lethal passing (esp give-and-go and tic-tac-toe) you go:

    Stamkos – Crosby – St Louis

    Bergeron is the best faceoff man in the league, fer pete’s sake – He takes all the 2nd-line, PK and critical defensive-zone draws. Period. Bump Toews to the wing, not Patrice:

    Tavares – Bergeron–Toews

    With this depth, one can afford (and be justified) bumping Giroux down to 3rd-line.

    And if we’re talking “BIG ICE”, “BIG ICE”, “BIG ICE” and we are – All fucking summer long – From Yzerman to Babcock to the hiring of Kreuger – Blahblahblah “BIG ICE”, then riddle me this? What role for power-forwards? Especially someone like Getzlaf? Or, even to a degree Richards? Or Carter? Especially with defenses that are going to collapse around the puck-carrier, taking away his outlets, pestering his stickhandling and picking his pocket to head the other way (with a 1-2-3 dogpack circus act.)

    Can’t talk “BIG ICE” without talking puck-movement – The same shit that drives us crazy on the small surface – especially during powerplays when everyone’s screaming “Shoot the fucking puck, fer fuck’s sake” – Yeah, that’s how it’s got to be played on “BIG ICE”.

    Harlem Globetrotter Hockey is what’s going to win in Sochi – Can’t really grind it out in the corners, or along the low-boards (or even below the goal-line, really) because when you’re playing on an aircraft carrier-sized ice-surface (I exaggerate, of course) the puck is rarely contested that far from the middle – You let that shit alone and maintain your positional discipline, or you get burned for being that far out, like some dumb-assed old dog chasing a car he’s got no business chasing – And “zip” the pass comes in to an overload and it’s shooter’s choice. The real “power-game” is strength on the puck and the ability to fight off/withstand the hacking and poking when headed in alone (think “Kovalchuk/Ovechkin/Datsyuk”.) Bulldozers in the paint and along the walss ain’t gonna fly.

    Whatever. Folks continue to look at a roster based on fantasy stats – The best of the best of the best. Wrong. “BIG ICE” is like Women’s College Hockey – Team, team, team (the puck moves faster than a player can skate) – Quick, clean, tight passing. Set up the shot, jump the rebound and reset again.

    I’ll shut up, now…So everyone can jump my shit. Thanks for your time.

    • “Bergeron is the best faceoff man in the league, fer pete’s sake – He takes all the 2nd-line, PK and critical defensive-zone draws. Period. Bump Toews to the wing, not Patrice:”

      Your splitting hairs saying Bergeron is the best faceoff guy in the league. He beat Toews by a 1 Percent last year. They were both 60% faceoff guys, and both amazing at the dot. The previous two years, Toews beat out Bergeron in Face Off win percentage.

      Given that both have Selke level defense, the deciding factor should be offense. Seeing as how it cant be disputed that Toews is better offensively(near PPG 3 years running), you let him play his natural position.

  19. I’m fine with them all except Carter. I just can’t see him as a big game player. True he’s won a cup but that was when he was 2nd line material.

  20. I’m going to have to disagree with the Nash and Carter decision and instead put Patrick Sharp on this team. Maybe it’s my homerism being a Hawks fan, but from a 3rd/4th line stand point Sharp brings great speed, smart play, great scoring instincts and is very good at playing defense through all 3 zones. He could make a great PKer on that huge ice while also stepping up in the line up incase an injury comes up. I don’t think a guy like Carter or Nash could play a defensive role compared to Sharp and with International Ice being a huge factor, you need guys who know how to be in position defensively and can get there quickly.

    That being said, I’m not so sure about Seabrook due to his lack of foot speed. He’s great on NHL size rinks and no doubt is a smart defensive player, but the big ice surface is just going to make his job more difficult as he doesn’t have the lightest of feet. Physical play is a lot less due to more room to manuever so essentially he becomes a pylon.

  21. Swap St. Louis for Carter and get him on the same line as Stamkos.

    I mean, you can’t break up the best duo in the league since Hall and Oates.

    (And I think Carter kinda got worn down last year, so from a Kings fan perspective I’d much rather him have a couple of weeks off, especially since Quick is basically going to be killing himself to try and single-handledly win the US gold. Shit, there’s gotta be a Richards replacement out there as well….)

  22. Cute Reimer joke there. Imagine a goalie who has never played more than half a NHL season being Canada’s Olympic goalie. A good chuckle to start the day.

    Of course the notion of Scary Carey with his 2.90/.900 9W 17L line during big time play (IE playoffs) isn’t at all funny. Seriously he has never ‘stolen’ a playoff series and his only series win came five years ago against a goalie with no prior playoff experience.

    Simply put the most over rated player in the NHL, by a considerable margin.

    Maybe the woefully inexperienced Reimer isn’t such a goofy idea after all.

  23. There isn’t a stat out there that says Boumeester is better than Hamhuis. Both are agile, impressive skaters that play tough competition, but Hamhuis is a cut above in all other respects. He’s a better possession player, more productive offensively (with less PP opportunity!)

  24. Mike Richards better not be on this team.

    I’d take Nash, Hall, Duchene, Sharp, St Louis and Benn over him in a heartbeat.

  25. Can you imagine Stamkos – Crosby – St. Louis? Talk about chemistry. As a keyboard GM I’ve got to say no way to Carter and Richards. Much rather have Duchene and Sharp/Neal out there. Also Petro’s gotta be on the team somehow.

  26. It’s gonna be funny when both Richards and Carter make it.

  27. If Thornton plays the first half of the season the way he has played the last five years *on average*, he makes the team. Only a step back would stop that. He’s still one of the best players in the game, and has huge international experience.

  28. How on Earth do you take Richards and Carter at all, let alone against that competition? Richards has seen declining point production, defensive efficiency, faceoff percentage… he’s just plain gotten worse in LA. Carter’s a solid scoring threat still, but there are a number of better options available. Richards doesn’t bring anything that Couture, Bergeron, Toews, Giroux and Getzlad don’t all have more of, and Carter’s finishing ability is just about irrelevant when you realize you’re talking about a team that has the option of putting two Hart finalists and the Art Ross winner on one line just for kicks.

    More importantly – man, Carey Price is not a good goalie. He’s just not. He’s the new Fleury and his numbers support it. Luongo is 4th amongst all active goalies in EV S% since 2008. Price is 22nd. Ward, Smith and freaking Reimer have been better over the same sample size, and all on worse teams (Carolina, Tampa/Phoenix and Toronto). Price has absolutely no business in an Olympic jersey this year. Holtby, Crawford, Smith and Cam Ward are all better choices.

  29. I don’t want Carter or Richards on my team. Richards has had great success but has been going downhill for the past few years while many forwards are better all round players than Carter. Duchene and Sharp are quality, hard working and fleet afoot snipers who earned spots.

    On defense, Pietrangelo, Bowmeester and Hamhuis are prefered over Seabrook and Letang. Letang skates well but so do the others but they are better defensively as he can be a give-a-way machine at times..

    In goal Price has his ups and downs and seen too many downs for a so-called star player. Same goes for Luongo but he gets an edge after having survived the 2010 games in spite of a few “softies”. Crawford has earned a chance but playing behind the Hawks misleads us a bit. Mike Smith is a strong choice for me as I prefer his keen competitiveness and solid play rather than some reputation that follows Price around even though he doesn’t win playoff games.

    Also, Nash has had injuries and is picked by reputation rather than proving it again this year. Couture has been dynamic and gets my nod.

    I am also not fond of the “plodding big guy” on the big ice surface. Getzlaf will not be the same asset he is on the smaller ice. The others look like great bets.

    Goal keeping is our main question mark.

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