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!

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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.

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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.

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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.