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2010 Olympic Roster: Canada

September 1, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

kacjeycanada

Canada is probably the hardest Olympic roster to figure out.  Sure, some countries have holes at certain positions (try to figure out Russia’s defense) but Canada’s tryout camp was loaded with firepower and talent.  Even the goaltenders are tricky to figure out.  Most elusive is what kind of compilation of forwards Steve Yzerman will select.  Do you try to overpower other countries with scoring?  Sounds good on the surface but that didn’t end well for Canada in 2006.  On the flip side, assembling a forward corps similar to a contemporary NHL team might not yield enough offense which would be equally embarrassing given the fact that Canada has more goals at their disposal than anyone else.  Let’s run down who was invited to the camp and their chances of making the team.  I will be highlighting who I think should make the team in red, followed by an attempt at how the forward lines and defensive pairings will be assembled.  Below each position I’ll also reflect on who probably WILL make the team despite what I think.

GOALTENDERS

Martin Brodeur:  You know he’s going to make the team.  Yeah he’s stumbled in the last couple years especially in the playoffs, but Brodeur is possibly the most heralded goaltender in recent Canadian history.  He’s won pretty much everything you can win playing the positions, often multiple times.  This is a combination of reputation and skill.  Brodeur is still a top end starter in the NHL but he’s not elite any more.  That being said his resume and what he has left in the tank will earn him a spot on Team Canada.  To me, he is their #3 goaltender but you won’t hear that from the mainstream media for fear of backlash.

Marc-Andre Fleury:  He deserves a spot in my opinion.  With the exception of the occasional lapse of concentration Fleury is as good as any goaltender in the league, and the times he’s kept the Penguins in games or simply won them outright are overshadowed by a miscue every once in awhile.  I would say one of the more interesting position battles will be between Fleury and Cam Ward.  They’re both very accomplished but Ward is more consistent while Fleury has a bit more risk/reward to his game.  I think the “what have you done for me lately” factor will come into play here and Fleury’s Stanley Cup victory will give him the edge to make the team in comparison to Ward’s meltdown in the Conference Finals opposite him.  #2 Canadian goaltender.

Robert Luongo:  Canada’s starting goaltender in my opinion.  All Luongo does is stop pucks.  In Florida he faced a shooting gallery every night and it was never surprising when he finished the night with 45+ saves.  He is the cornerstone of Vancouver’s system and their chances at winning any hardware in a given year.  What he doesn’t have going for him is that he’s never won anything.  That may make some people nervous but if you want the most talented goaltender in net, Luongo is the answer.

Steve Mason:  Statistically speaking Mason is a shoe-in for Team Canada’s roster.  As a rookie he produced double digit shutouts and battled Tim Thomas all year in every major goaltending category except for wins.  Unfortunately there’s isn’t a big enough body of work to warrant a roster spot for him, especially in Canada where talent is often overlooked in favor of experience and past history (for better or worse).  If he keeps this up it will be hard to keep him off of the 2014 team though.

Cam Ward:  As mentioned in the Fleury piece, if it wasn’t for how the 2009 playoffs ended Ward would probably edge out Fleury.  They’re about equal talent-wise.  In my opinion the Cup will resonate enough in everyone’s minds for Fleury to get the nod over Ward.

What will probably happen:  I honestly think I filled the roster spots accurately, the question is will Brodeur be named the starter even though he’s clearly not the best goaltender listed here?  I have a feeling it will happen.  He knows how to win so it’s hard to argue against it, but if you’re Canadian just pray he has enough left to not let you down.

DEFENSEMAN

Francois Beauchemin:  Beauchemin was a throw in when the Blue Jackets acquired Sergei Fedorov from the Ducks.  It’s unclear whether Columbus knew what they had at the time.  Beauchemin plays a physical game and will also net around 30 points in a season.  Unfortunately there’s too much talent here to justify a roster spot for him (get used to hearing that a lot).  A very good player that’s just not quite good enough and doesn’t have the pedigree.

Jay Bouwmeester:  He might be the prototypical all-around defenseman in the world, especially under 30 years of age.  Solid defensively with little to no errors in his game and a rock on the power play, Bouwmeester is one of the handful of locks to make Team Canada’s defensive squad.  There’s really no flaws to his game which puts him ahead of over half the camp invitees.

Dan Boyle:  Boyle will make the team for a couple of reasons.  He has a nice amount of experience and more importantly he skates like the wind and can rush the puck up ice and sneak in deep in the offensive zone and act like a forward which is an advantage with the wealth of talent Canada has on offense.  His game is very similar to Scott Niedermayer in his prime, however being in markets like Tampa Bay and San Jose he sometimes gets lost in the shuffle when talking about effective NHL defenseman.  He’s not very big but I think he fills a need for Canada.

Brent Burns:  Burns is Minnesota’s go-to guy on their defense.  He plays meaninful minutes and quarterbacks the power play.  He skates and distributes the puck very well.  He’s another guy that could make a solid contribution, however there’s simply too many other studs on this list and players that do certain things just a little bit better than Burns to put him on the roster.

Drew Doughty:  Doughty played for the Kings last year as an 18 year old and played relatively well.  Why he was invited to the camp however is a mystery to me.  He was highly touted at the draft and went #2 overall and deservedly so, but there is too much riding on Canada’s Olympic showing for him to even wear the jersey.  Also, he’s just not good enough…..yet.

Mike Green:  This is an interesting case.  Would you leave Paul Coffey off of Canada’s roster when he was just entering his prime?  Okay Green isn’t THAT good, but he’s only the eight NHL defenseman in league history to score over 30 goals.  That says a lot.  What also says a lot is that he’s a defensive liability at times.  Not really the picture of an Olympic caliber hockey player.  I have him just missing the team given that there are more well-rounded options.  It’s very tempting to put him in though.

Dan Hamhuis:  After being the 12th overall pick of the Nashville Predators in 2001, Hamhuis has turned into a reliable NHL defenseman.  You won’t look for him to lead your defense but he will make a solid contribution year in, year out.  His career path is very similar to that of Brooks Orpik, a mid-range first round pick who has developed into someone that can play regular minutes and be effective if unspectacular overall.  He’s a reputable player but not someone Canada will look to.

Duncan Keith:  I have Keith making the team, but it was a close call.  He’s probably on par with Shea Weber and Mike Green when you consider all areas but I think he’s the more well-rounded of the three.  Weber is well-rounded also but more offensively-oriented.  He may be the better choice here but I’ll go with Keith, who is effective in all zones and like Dan Boyle can step into the play offensively.

Scott Niedermayer:  I have to be honest, I think Niedermayer is a shadow of his former self.  In the ’09 playoffs he rarely jumped into the play and didn’t typify that rover style of play he personified in his hey-day.  He’s just about at the end of his career but his skating ability and experience help him remain a suitable defenseman that can play well in any situation.  Like Martin Brodeur, his skill still makes him a viable option but his making the team will have just as much to do with his reputation.  I have him as Canada’s 7th defenseman, giving way to more talented players but still keeping Scott in the loop to provide leadership, but I’m open to the opinion that he brings stability in a top 6 role.

Dion Phaneuf:  Phaneuf hits people hard and is usually a good bet to chip in around 35 points, but the hype surrounding him is more influential than his game.  He’s prone to lapses defensively and while his offensive numbers are above average, they’re not enough to elevate him over other players.  Canada will already have more than serviceable power play quarterbacks so all you’re really left with is the thunderous hits that punctuate Phaneuf’s career thus far.  The Olympics aren’t known as much for physical play as they are skill and speed which makes Phaneuf a hard sell to make the team in my opinion.

Chris Pronger:  The cornerstone of Canada’s defense.  He’ll be 36 in October but he’s as effective as he’s ever been.  He possesses a booming shot from the point, can handle pretty much any forward in the world and punishes opposing players down low and in front of the net.  Given his size and mean streak he’s Canada’s most well-rounded defenseman and will play in all situations.

Robyn Regehr:  I’m putting Regehr on the team in lieu of some other talented players.  Why?  He’s a defensive stalwart, and while Canada has pretty much everything on defense they don’t have a player that fits this mold if Regehr is absent from their roster.  Regehr will allow gifted offensive forwards and sometimes his defensive partner to pinch and take risks while he holds the fort.  He commands respect down low and in front of the net as well much like Pronger.  A risky pick but I think it makes sense.

Stephane Robidas:  Robidas is a nice little player, but doesn’t shine much at all in comparison to the dynamite blueliners Canada has competing with him for a roster spot.  He can do a little of everything but shouldn’t be considered for this team.

Brent Seabrook:  The Chicago defenseman can play a gritty game and chip in his share offensively, but he’s probably somewhat of a lesser version of his teammate, Duncan Keith.  With less speed, puck distribution and offense to contribute than Keith, you can’t really justify Seabrook making Team Canada.

Marc Staal:  I’ve been impressed with Staal ever since the Rangers brought him on full time.  He plays in his own zone like a seasoned veteran, looking like he’s done this a million times befores.  He even jump up in the play every so often.  He’s still very young and will continue to grow, so in 2014 with some current elite defensemen having retired by then he has a great chance of becoming an Olympian at that point.

Shea Weber:  Weber has blossomed into an offensive phenom at the NHL level.  He’s as good as anyone quarterbacking the power play these days and has size that serves him well in his own zone.  He’ll only get better, and his stats (23 goals last year) as well as his overall game should earn him a spot on this team.

What will probably happen:  Niedermayer will play a full time role, Phaneuf will somehow make the team, and Regehr more likely than not won’t.

FORWARDS

Just wanted to preface this section by say this was extremely hard.  🙂

Jeff Carter:  He has a wicked wrist shot and might be the best 2nd line center in the league.  You’d love to find a place for him on Team Canada but sadly I don’t think it’s to be.  He would have to be moved to wing which he doesn’t seem built to play and if you do that his shot is really all he’ll be contributing in my opinion.  Canada has many centers like Carter who will probably be lost in the shuffle.

Dan Cleary:  He provides grit and has a penchant for scoring big goals in the playoffs, so there are some intangibles here that argue he deserves a roster spot.  I’m not buying however.  Cleary is a nice player to have, but what if he doesn’t score those goals?  Then he’s just a checking line winger.  That isn’t a bad thing, but Canada can do better.

Sidney Crosby:  He’ll be Canada’s most explosive offensive player and first line center.  He may even vie for an “A” on his sweater but that remains to be seen.  Crosby epitomizes what I think Canada needs to have success in the Olympics.  He’s incredibly gifted and has some grit thrown in so he also contributes to Canada not being so one-dimensional up front.  Not much more needs to be said.  He’s the most dynamic Canadian player alive today.

Shane Doan:  Has there been a more underrated player than Doan in recent memory?  A regular 30-goal scorer that will dig in the corners and mesh well with good players, being relegated to the Phoenix market has Doan off a lot of people’s radars.  He needs to be on this team simply because he can do everything expected from a power forward and if any altercations do occur with someone like Crosby, Doan can step up if necessary.

Simon Gagne:  Here is an interesting player.  He has Olympic experience and given that he’s healthy, will put up good numbers.  He’s also a winger and while it’s very tempting to shoehorn a center in a winger spot because Canada has so many, a guy like Gagne can avoid such a situation and still make you rest easy he can contribute.  I still have him not making the team though simply because he’s cooled off in recent years and has had notable injury problems.  You can make a case, but I don’t think there’s enough here to put Gagne on this team given all the firepower elsewhere.

Ryan Getzlaf:  At this point in time I think Getzlaf is the only Canadian center besides Crosby that has a realistic chance at 100 points in an NHL regular season.  He’s just coming into his own and he is an absolute force.  He’s tall, rangy, and physical with hands of silk to match.  He’s also relentless, as he showed against the Red Wings in the ’09 Conference Finals when he was asked to play 28-30 minutes a game and showed no signs of fatigue.  He’s currently piquing and a no-brainer for Canada’s second center position in my book.

Dany Heatley:  Despite people souring on Heatley due to his wanting out of Ottawa, he remains the premier sniper in the NHL.  He can score from anywhere in the offensive zone and can also pass the puck very well.  When he’s on his game and focused he’s as deadly as anyone in the league, and sometimes you won’t notice him until the puck is in the net.  He has had recent problems playing big in big games, but he’ll easily be one of Canada’s best wingers.

Jarome Iginla:  There’s not many players who really can do everything and at a high level.  Iginla is one of those players.  He’s a power forward who is a threat to score 50 goals consistently every year.  He has an Art Ross trophy to prove he can also play a well-rounded offensive game.  Similar to Crosby in that he makes Canada tougher up front.  Speaking of Crosby, pairing these two up is a match made in heaven and I can’t see it not happening.

Vincent Lecavalier:  Now we’re entering the glut of centers Canada has.  There’s probably still many names floating around in your head and I already have 3 on the roster.  You can’t ignore Lecavalier though.  He’s usually good for about 90 points a season and his goals are often as high as his assists.  He also addresses an interesting area of debate for Team Canada:  penalty killing.  His skill set is enough to put him on this team, but his extensive experience on the PK but him over the top.

Milan Lucic:  This is one of those players that you want to somehow find a way onto the team.  Right away at the age of 18 Lucic proved he could do his part offensively (15-20 goals) and more importantly, go to the net and make life hell for opposing players with punishing checks and an in-your-face style of play.  He’s still very young at age 20 though and while he would be an interesting ingredient to throw into the mix Canada probably has just enough toughness to avoid injecting Lucic into the lineup.

Patrick Marleau:  Just because you can’t hold up to the talent of Crosby, Getzlaf, etc. doesn’t mean you’re a bad player.  That’s the case with Marleau, who despite a dreadful ’07-08 campaign rebounded last year to let everyone know they can rest easy and that he is the heart and soul of the San Jose Sharks.  Unfortunately unless you put him on wing and diminish his skill set you won’t get the most out of him, and just like Jeff Carter that’s why Marleau won’t make Team Canada.

Andy McDonald:  Thanks for coming out.  No offense to McDonald, who had some nice season with Teemu Selanne in Anaheim and is still reliable in St. Louis, but a solid if unspectacular center simply can’t compete with the likes of those already mentioned.  

Brendan Morrow:  Are you convinced Shane Doan belongs on this team?  If you are you shouldn’t have any qualms about Morrow either.  He’s every bit as good as Doan, plays a similar game, and might be a better leader as well.  This gives Canada another winger to fill a spot and (just like Doan) some grit to round out the forward lineup.

Rick Nash:  Despite being one of the worst offenders in the 2006 Olympic debacle, Nash should have an automatic bid for a spot this time around.  Essentially Dany Heatley with speed, Nash may not pass the puck as well as some would like but alongside centers like those Team Canada will boast, special things could happen.  He was also very young in 2006 but now he’s refined his game and will be ready to lead by example.

Corey Perry:  Another one of my risky picks.  You could put Gagne here, or old favorite Ryan Smyth, or even move someone like Toews or Roy to wing, but I’ll take Perry.  He has superior hands, good size, and works the boards very well.  He’s still finding his game at the NHL level, but he’s almost there.  He has a mix of skills that I think will again make Canada more well-rounded.  Matching him with Anaheim linemate Getzlaf is a possiblity.

Mike Richards:  We all hate him in Pittsburgh but the fact is the Richards is a great checking line center that puts up first line numbers.  He is the epitome of Flyers hockey and Canada needs a bit of that.  He’ll be their fourth line center so there’s still plenty of room for all the big guns, however he could make nice contributions offensively and will kill penalties effectively.

Derek Roy:  Roy is a good player and one of Buffalo’s go to guys.  He won’t be playing for Canada this year however.  He puts up solid offensive numbers but not solid enough, and size is an issue if you’re looking for a tie breaker for some reason.

Patrick Sharp:  After exploding onto the scene in Chicago a couple years back there’s some validity to Sharp making this team.  He scores goals from the wing position which is valuable.  Unfortunately being relatively unknown until recently will probably hurt his chances, although he’s probably not suited well for a spot anyways.

Ryan Smyth:  Why do I already know he’ll make the team?  He’s past his prime and was never flashy, but Canada loves this guy.  He’s a heart and soul type of player that puts up surprisingly good numbers given that his skills are rough around the edges.  After turning his back on the Oilers and their beloved fans he’s been relegated to Colorado where he hasn’t accomplished much of anything.  I’d scratch his name off the list almost immediately but we’ll see.  Canada isn’t the most logical country when it comes to these kinds of things.

Jason Spezza:  What a strange player.  Spezza can put up impressive numbers and display great hands and offensive insticts, and sometimes not.  He seems to get disinterested at times and has also had his share of injuries.  He just misses the cut in some ways, others not.  Probably Canada’s 6th best center.

Martin St. Louis:  I don’t care for St. Louis too much to be honest.  He has an Art Ross trophy which I can’t deny but he just seems to look better some years than others.  Often he looks like a franchise player, other times a pedestrian.  I’m putting him on the team however simply because his upside is very good and he fills a wing position.  He could also complete another teammate combo with Lecavalier.

Eric Staal:  This is a player I would love to squeeze into a winger, but Canada would be wise to not go too crazy making centers into wings.  He’ll be on the fourth line, where I would try to put him somewhere with Richards and Perry.  I would leave Richards at center and give Staal more offensive responsibilities at wing.

Jordan Staal:  There’s a theory a small minority of people have that Canada should employ a full-blown checking line this time around.  It’s unlikely but if  Yzerman for some reason agrees with this, Staal would be worth looking at.  However where do you put him?  A line of Richards/Staal/Lucic would be nice but Richards is the better center.  Don’t be fooled by Staal’s rookie year, which was a mirage.  He was tried out at wing later and simply couldn’t produce.  That first year was all adrenaline.  Best to just scrap the idea and keep Jordan off the team.

Joe Thornton:  I’ll be honest, I don’t want Thornton on Team Canada.  This may be baffling to some but he’s been surpassed by other Canadian centers such as Getzlaf and Lecavalier recently (not to mention Crosby).  He’s probably the fourth best center listed here but you can’t have a player like Thornton in that spot.  He’s essentially become Adam Oates on steroids, which is a shame when you consider he shoots the puck very well but for some reason rarely does.  All this and the fact that I’ve given him more chances than most and you can’t get around what we all know to be true:  Thornton completely caves in important games.

Jonathan Toews:  Very tempting to turn him into a winger here.  I think he would do well.  Unfortunately there’s no reason to take the chance and no one not named Crosby is going to get a chance at such a young age.  Definitely a factor at the 2014 camp.

What will probably happen:  Gagne will probably replace Perry, Smyth may very well find his way onto the team, and so will Joe Thornton.  Lecavalier will probably flip flop with Getzlaf as far as which lines they’re on.

FORWARD LINES:

Doan-Crosby-Iginla

Morrow-Getzlaf-Heatley

Nash-Lecavalier-St. Louis

E. Staal-Richards-Perry

DEFENSIVE PAIRINGS

Pronger-Boyle

Bouwmeester-Weber

Keith-Regeher

Neidermayer

GOALTENDERS

Roberto Luongo

Marc-Andre Fleury

Martin Brodeur

And there you have it.  Please leave all questions, comments, and insults in the comments section!

 

 

 

 

 

 



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