Most hockey bloggers have already published at least one version of their 2014 Team Canada roster, and I am no different. I first shared my thoughts on the topic back in February, and a lot has changed since that time. What better time for an update?
February 2013 selections:
Jamie Benn – Sidney Crosby (A) – Rick Nash
John Tavares – Steven Stamkos – Martin St. Louis
Eric Staal – Jordan Staal – Jonathan Toews (A)
Jordan Eberle – Patrice Bergeron – Claude Giroux
Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Dan Hamhuis – Shea Weber
Alex Pietrangelo – Drew Doughty
Martin Brodeur/Cam Ward/Marc-Andre Fleury/Mike Smith
August 2013 selections:
Taylor Hall – Sidney Crosby – Patrice Bergeron
*Chris Kunitz as an extra forward
I have been sold on the Kunitz-for-Canada suggestions over the past few weeks/months. Why? Chemistry, chemistry, oh, and did I mention chemistry? Crosby had a tough time finding linemates to play with at the 2010 Olympics, as he isn’t a typical skill forward (Crosby has the skill of an elite superstar but the work ethic and thought-process of a north-south grinder, and I mean that as a compliment).
He wants to get the puck from A to B as quickly as possible, and that is a huge adjustment for a lot of skill/possession wingers. Patrice Bergeron has chemistry with Crosby from their days with Canada’s junior team, and he is arguably the best two-way player on the planet right now.
Hall is also a north-south player and is on the verge of superstardom. Kunitz would be more of an insurance policy in case Hall and Crosby don’t click right away. Kunitz’s versatility would also allow him to play more of a depth/grinding role if need be. Hall is simply too good to be left off of this team. And if you don’t believe me now, wait a few months.
Logan Couture – John Tavares – Steven Stamkos
Mike Babcock warned us not to read anything into his line combinations from this orientation camp… sorry Mike. I love the potential of this line – three natural centers, but also a great mix of different player types. All three are big and strong skaters who are also excellent possession players. Tavares’ defensive game has improved leaps and bounds over the past few years, and Couture is one of the best two-way forwards in hockey. What Stamkos brings is instant offense. Any situation, any matchup, anywhere on the ice – he is a threat to score.
After watching Couture decimate the Canucks during Round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs a few months ago, I’m ready to lock him in for Sochi.
Eric Staal – Jonathan Toews – Rick Nash
Say hello to the 2014 checking line. Teams will have a tough time generating much of anything against this line. Staal and Nash are known more for their offense than defense, but Nash proved in 2010 that he is can be an elite defensive forward if need be. Staal is a natural center but he should be able to make the move over to the left side quite easily.
Claude Giroux – Ryan Getzlaf – Corey Perry
Three highly-skilled players who all like to play with grit. Getzlaf and Perry have established chemistry over their careers with the Ducks, and Giroux can play with just about anybody. He will be a huge part of Canada’s power play.
Hall – Crosby – Bergeron
Couture – Tavares – Stamkos
Staal – Toews – Nash
Giroux – Getzlaf – Perry
Jeff Carter (among other notables – Jamie Benn, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, Martin St. Louis, Mike Richards, Jason Spezza… and so on)
Canada will name eight defensemen to the team, but will only dress seven on any given night. According to Bob McKenzie, the Canadian coaching staff will pay close attention to position, playing style, chemistry, past international play, and a number of other measures:
LH and RH one of MANY variables. Trust. Reliability. Unique skill/role. Fit. World Ch experience (+ve or -ve). On and on.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) August 26, 2013
Duncan Keith – PK Subban
I have dropped Seabrook from my team, as he simply isn’t as good as the other right-side defensemen. It’s not his fault the majority of Canada’s top defensemen shoot right and play on the right side, but them’s the breaks.
Dan Hamhuis – Shea Weber
Some familiarity between these two from their Nashville days. Hamhuis is a steady two-way defenseman who can score, shut down, hit, and skate. Weber is… well, Shea Weber. Arguably the best defenseman in hockey.
Kris Letang – Drew Doughty
Two right-shooting defensemen, but I have zero doubts that one/both of them couldn’t move over to their off side (especially on the bigger ice). Doughty may be the best shutdown defenseman in hockey, and Letang is going to be a joy to watch on the big ice.
Not only are these two defensemen both big and incredibly mobile, but they are the top pairing for the Blues. Having an established pairing could come in handy if any of Canada’s other defensemen struggle out of the gate.
I could easily see Seabrook on this roster ahead of Bouwmeester, but does Canada take that many right-shooting defensemen?
Roberto Luongo (he’s earned it, he has a ton of motivation to succeed this year, and he has handled the pressure on the international stage in the past).
Carey Price (2013 was a disappointing year for Price, but he has excelled under pressure in the past, and he is very likely Canada’s goaltender of the future)
Mike Smith (he has the ability to get hot and steal a few games… but how would he fare outside of a Dave Tippett-coached system?)
How does your Sochi roster look at this moment?