We revealed our picks for the U.S. team earlier this week. Now, it’s time to justify our picks for Team Canada.
Nick Cotsonika, Yahoo NHL writer
Brutal. Just brutal.
The Canadians are so stacked that great players will be left off the roster, especially up front, especially in the middle. Crosby, Getzlaf and Toews are locks to be the top three centermen. Thornton should be right with them – still elite at both ends of the ice. Other centermen can move to the wing. Tavares has played left wing on big ice before – in Switzerland during the lockout last season, most recently – and Stamkos could be lethal on Crosby’s right wing if recovered from a broken leg. Duchene has the speed Team Canada officials have said they want for this tournament. Giroux has bounced back from a poor start. Coach Mike Babcock knows Couture well, having faced his San Jose team in the NHL often, and Couture knows Babcock’s system well, because Sharks coach Todd McLellan once was Babcock’s assistant in Detroit.
Some would leave Kunitz off the team, but he belongs on one of the top two lines. He has played and produced at the highest level with Crosby in Pittsburgh and with Getzlaf and Perry in Anaheim. There is a reason he clicks with great players on winning teams – he did it with Evgeni Malkin, too – and he doesn’t get enough credit for what he has done on his own. Martin St. Louis is on the bubble, partly because of his age and his size and the big ice, but he won the NHL scoring title last season and has kept producing with Stamkos injured this season. He’s a fiery veteran whom executive director Steve Yzerman knows well as the GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Crosby will be captain, or maybe Toews, but St. Louis could be captain, too. How do you not put him on the team? Bergeron brings faceoff prowess and shutdown defense. Sharp edges other elite forwards because he can play all three forward positions – important flexibility in case of chemistry and injury problems.
Toughest omissions: Jamie Benn, Taylor Hall, Tyler Seguin.
The top two defensive pairs are set in stone. Vlasic cracks the top six and pairs with the likes of Weber because he is someone Babcock can trust – an important issue. The Canadians have a ton of firepower already. Their relative weakness is in goal. There will be little practice time, and the medal round will be single elimination. Babcock doesn’t need more offense at this point. He needs safety. Which brings us to P.K. Subban. He is the reigning Norris Trophy winner and belongs on the team, but will he crack the lineup in the medal round? Seabrook lands the other depth spot because of his skill and experience.
Price has played well enough to earn the starting spot in net at this point. Luongo, in goal for gold in Vancouver, belongs as the backup. The third spot should go to Harding if healthy and ready, not for his made-for-TV Olympic story in battling MS, but purely for his performance this season.
Sean Leahy, Puck Daddy editor
Chris Kunitz-Sidney Crosby-Steven Stamkos
Logan Couture-Jonathan Toews-Matt Duchene
Patrick Marleau-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Patrice Bergeron-John Tavares-Martin St. Louis
Matt DuchenePatrick Sharp, Joe Thornton
Duncan Keith-Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester-Shea Weber
PK Subban-Alex Pietrangelo
Brent Seabrook, Dan Boyle
Here's the "A" team. If they fail to win gold, GM Steve Yzerman's roster selections will be thoroughly examined and criticized, but it isn't like he'll be lacking talent; which is why chemistry might be the thinking in putting together his Canadian squad. That's where the Kunitz/Crosby, Toews/Sharp and Getzlaf/Perry combos come in. The Duck and Blackhawk pairs were likely heading to Sochi anyway, but Kunitz's inclusion has been a hotly debated topic.
Stamkos will be on the roster up until the minute he's ruled out, if that happens. Duchene could find himself in that spot, which would give Claude Giroux an opportunity to be named to the team.
In net, just like the U.S., it'll be Luongo and Price as the top two goalies. The third spot will see Mike Smith in that role after he's earned the chance with several solid seasons, Butt Goal and all.
Harrison Mooney, Puck Daddy Editor
Claude Giroux - Sidney Crosby - John Tavares
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Matt Duchene
Jamie Benn - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Steven Stamkos - Patrice Bergeron - Martin St. Louis
Logan Couture, Taylor Hall
Duncan Keith - Drew Doughty
P.K. Subban - Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Dan Hamhuis - Brent Seabrook
So many forwards to choose from. The trick with Canada is deciding who you want your four centres to be, and then going from there. I think three are unquestioned: Crosby, Toews, and Bergeron. As for the fourth, I think Ryan Getzlaf has played his way onto this team, and when he comes pre-loaded with a superstar winger in Perry, you have to go with that. Plug a huge, mobile natural left winger in on the other side -- as I've done with Jamie Benn, who's played his way onto this team in place of Rick Nash, in my opinion -- and you're laughing.
Same goes for Toews and Sharp, and Stamkos and St. Louis. The only line that doesn't have a pre-loaded pair is the Crosby line, and considering the guys he's played with over the years, I think Crosby can make it work with Giroux and Tavares.
The more I think about it, the more I think there's a right answer for Canada's top-six defencemen, and this is it. Keith and Doughty are locked, and they played together last Olympics. They're a ready-made pair. Same goes for Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo, who are the stars of the St. Louis blueline. That gives you two sturdy defensive pairs that have a history, and that's great. For the final pair, I think you trust P.K. Subban with the adjustment to the left side, pair him with the NHL's best in Weber, and let the magic happen. There will probably be magic.
Seabrook is probably a lock as an alternate, which leaves Team Canada with one choice: the alternate left D-man. It's a toss-up between Dan Hamhuis and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, in this guy's opinion, and here there's no wrong answer. I'd go Hamhuis, but I'll admit I've seen a lot more of him than Vlasic. Either one is a safe bet.
The top two goaltenders are going to be Luongo and Price. I have no doubt on this. As for the third, this is where it could be one of a number of guys. I think you have to pick the Canadian that's playing the best, and for my money, that's Josh Harding.
Ryan Lambert, Puck Daddy columnist
Cory Conacher - Stephen Weiss - David Clarkson
Bryan Bickell - Joe Colborne - Steve Bernier
Jay Rosehill - Chris Kelly - Chuck Kobasew
Alex Burrows - Jay McClement - Rene Bourque
Extras: Shawn Thornton, Chris Neil
Travis Hamonic - Cory Sarich
Luke Schenn - Kyle Quincey
Robyn Regehr - Shane O'Brien
Extras: Matt Carkner, Sidney Crosby (defense only)
This is a good roster for Canada and I'd like to see them bring it. Lots of toughness throughout this lineup.
Jen Neale, Puck Daddy writer
Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Steven Stamkos
Matt Duchene - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Jeff Carter
John Tavares - Tyler Seguin - Jamie Benn
Extra forwards: Joe Thornton, Martin St. Louis
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Drew Doughty - Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Extra defensemen: Francois Beauchemin and PK Subban
Team Canada is best served by building their forward core by bringing in established pairings on each line and then fill in the holes with complementary players (that's what she said...?).
Line one starts with Kunitz and Crosby and brings in Steven Stamkos. All Stamkos does is score goals and Kunitz and Crosby are more than capable of getting him the puck.
Line two is Anaheim's 'twins', Getzlaf and Perry with the addition of Matt Duchene. Duchene is the Canadian version of Bobby Ryan but a way better skater and he forechecks.
Line three adds Jeff Carter to Chicago's Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews. Carter gives Toews a sniper at each wing to kick a puck back to on the face-off.
Finally, Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn from Dallas with John Tavaras. Tavaras put the entire Islanders team on his back last season and took them to the playoffs. No matter who you put him with, he's going to score. Joe Thornton and Martin St. Louis are both producing in the NHL but they are older than the rest of the lot. A significant amount of travel could negatively impact them; however, after a few days of acclimation they could be inserted anywhere in the forward core.
This group is comprised of mainly offensive defensemen. Keeping Keith and Seabrook together goes along the lines of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.' No reason to breakup a pairing that just won another Cup together. The saying could apply to Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester on most nights but recently Ken Hitchcock has broken them up to shake up the Blues. Doughty and Weber would be fun to watch. They're offensive defensemen who are very physical. The latter, in an international game, could be their downfall. An additional pairing of Beauchemin and Subban would be a great for Canada and they'll never consider it. Beauchemin is a stay at home defenseman who is used to playing with active, young offensive-defensemen like Subban. The Russians are a big hitting team; these two could replace Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester to beef up Canada's lineup in that game.
Team Canada is scared of Marc-Andre Fleury. Canadian team officials will never say it, but the fear is of another Fleury meltdown in net. That has to be the only reason he's not automatically selected as the starter for Canada. Why else would they leave a guy off their roster who is playing his best hockey in years? His sports psychologist can travel with the team! I'd be more concerned about Carey Price. His penchant for giving up multiple goals in a game is always an issue. That's probably why the Canadians will bring along reliable safety-blanket Roberto Luongo. He took over for Martin Brodeur in Vancouver and the Canadians went home with the gold.
Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy Editor
John Tavares-Sidney Crosby-Steven Stamkos
Matt Duchene-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Sharp
Eric Staal-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Logan Couture-Patrice Bergeron-Claude Giroux
Chris Kunitz, Marty St. Louis
Duncan Keith-Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Marc-Edouard Vlasic-Shea Weber
Brent Seabrook, P.K. Subban
Thank the hockey gods Steven Stamkos will be healthy for Sochi, so this rag-tag group of nobodies has a chance to compete for at least the bronze. Canada without Stamkos? Basically Slovenia without Anze Kopitar.
With Stamkos in place, the lineup fills out quite nicely. The Blackhawks connection between Toews and Sharp is strong. You can put anyone with Getzlaf and Perry Patrice Bergeron on the fourth line? This is just unfair.
I like Kunitz as a utility player that can play with Sid or with the Anaheim Ducks boys. St. Louis gets the nod over Jamie Benn and Taylor Hall because they don't play in Tampa.
Ditto the defense, where the top four is outstanding and Subban remains the wild card.
I nearly slotted Marc-Andre Fleury as the third goalie, but I can’t imagine Team Canada can ignore his playoff meltdowns, considering the pressure if he actually saw the ice in Sochi.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Roberto Luongo
- Patrick Sharp
- Patrice Bergeron
- Jonathan Toews
- Ryan Getzlaf
- Claude Giroux
- Carey Price
- Jamie Benn
- Jay Bouwmeester
- John Tavares