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Calling the Team Canada breakdown
Several Sharks make the cut
12/1/13 - By Zack Bodenstein -

There is no doubt that when it comes to the Winter Olympics, the Hockey event is the most popular and exciting event around the world. Every four years, the same teams are mentioned as so called "contenders", with Canada always having the biggest spotlight. When it comes to the breadth and depth of talent around the world, Canada produces the most and best quality of talented hockey players around the world, always giving them tough decisions when they need to name their Olympic roster.

This has been a debate for the past year, and will continue to go on until the roster is named on December 28th. Canada suffered a huge blow with the leg injury to Steven Stamkos, who was believed to be a lock for the team. If he is unable to go, this sets up another spot for players such as Matt Duchene, Patrick Marleau and Jamie Benn to get them noticed and on the roster. Underneath here are my honest and unbiased (San Jose Sharks fan) predictions of Team Canada's final roster. Again, this is just an opinion based on my knowledge of the game and whom I feel would best help the team win.

Forwards:

Sidney Crosby (C) Pittsburgh Penguins-

I don't think there is much to debate about this one. When he entered the league in 2005, Crosby was involved in a huge debate about who the next up and coming player was between him and Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin. Crosby's consistent dominance has detached himself from Ovechkin's category, putting himself into a league of his own. He is a player who everybody is safe saying "The best hockey player on the planet." Crosby is probably even a lock for the Captaincy position on this team.

Logan Couture (C) San Jose Sharks-

Obviously there is going to be speculation with this pick. With Logan playing out west in San Jose, Steve Yzerman and crew do not get the opportunity to watch Logan Couture play as much hockey as they would in an east coast player. At age 24, Couture has established himself as one of the most electrifying young superstars in the game today. His offensive game lacks nothing, while his defensive game is no slouch either. Couture plays a terrific 3-zone game, which is an important aspect to consider while picking this team on the Olympic ice. He blocks many shots and is a stud on the penalty kill. Logan can be effective in a role with top scorers such as Sidney Crosby, or a shutdown line with a guy like Patrice Bergeron. At the end of the day, this kid plays the game efficiently and the right way, so I definitely think he's under looked and should find his way on the roster.

John Tavares (C) New York Islanders-

John Tavares has established himself a top 5 player NHL player. He has the effect of making the players around him better, something that not many other players can do. He helped Matt Moulson become an elite sniper in the game, as well as Kyle Okposo, who is in the midst of a stellar breakout year. He has the skill and the hockey sense to be an essential lock for Team Canada. If JT can help young, inexperienced players find their stride, imagine what he can do with the best players in the world surrounding him.

Jonathan Toews (C) Chicago Blackhawks-

The Blackhaws knew what they were going to get when they selected Jonathan Toews, a skilled, smart, competitive leader. Jonathan Toews plays a terrific 3-zone game, forcing many turnovers, with a terrific offensive upside. Toews was brilliant in the 2010 tournament, and I have no reason to believe that he won't find more success in 2014.

Steven Stamkos (C) Tampa Bay Lightning-

Barring a horrific injury on November 11th, Stamkos had surgery to repair a broken tibia and can be out anywhere from 3-6 months. The best-case scenario is that he is healthy just in time for the tournament. However, he may not be ready in time, or Yzerman will rest him for the NHL regular season. Regardless, he'll play if he's healthy. If not, he will have his name on the roster, a true young superstar who may have emerged as the top goal scorer in the world.

Ryan Getzlaf (C) Anaheim Ducks-

Getzlaf was part of the stacked 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and he's been a stud ever since his draft day. His 6'4 and 221 lbs. figure makes him an absolute force on the puck. He's got a terrific hockey sense as well. He can shoot, pass and deke. He's a terrific skater and point producer, and to top it off, he's an effective leader. Getzlaf was great in 2010, and he's reminding everybody that he's still got plenty of game left in him.

Corey Perry (RW) Anaheim Ducks-

Playing on a line with Getzlaf, Corey Perry has emerged as a pure sniper in the NHL. His goal production is slowing down, but he still shows he can play at around a 40 goal pace consistently. He has lots of chemistry with Getzlaf, while he also provides a big and gritty body that will come in hand against teams like Russia and the United States.

Patrice Bergeron (C) Boston Bruins-

With all the talk about point production, Bergeron does not fit this category. Why put him on the team? There was a lot of controversy in 2010 when Bergeron made the team. He is an under looked player due to his lack of point production compared to other contenders to make the team. Teams will need shutdown players in order to be efficient in the tournament. Bergeron provides a 3-zone game, skating ability, an incredible work ethic and faceoff ability. All of these are much needed on a team that is already filled with a tremendous amount of offense.

Claude Giroux (C) Philadelphia Flyers-

Claude Giroux is a player who everybody expected to make this team initially, but they feel as if he's playing his way off of the team. His Flyers have struggled mightily, and as this is written on November 14th 2013, Claude Giroux currently has one goal. However, the way I see it is a learning process. Giroux is coming off of offseason finger surgery. I don't believe many players would be at full form with a recovering finger. Giroux's defensive game has taken a bit of a hit, but his offensive upside makes him a possibility for Team Canada. I believe he is turning things around. He was responsible for the breakout seasons of Jakub Voracek and Scott Hartnell. He plays a mean game and he is very competitive. He has not played his way off of the team, like Eric Staal has, in my opinion.

Matt Duchene (C) Colorado Avalanche-

Duchene plays an electrifying game. When I watch this kid play, he always amazes me. His work ethic is phenomenal and his flashiness is like no other. He has fast hands, killer speed and a quick release. If you have Duchene to play with guys at top end talent, watch out. He's one of those players who can make something from nothing, making him elite. It's close between him and a few other names like Marleau, Benn, Kunitz, Hall and Ladd but Duchene would edge these guys out for the role that he will play on this team.

Rick Nash (LW) New York Rangers

Nash is a huge body who competes at a high level. He developed lots of chemistry with Crosby, a lock for the team, in 2010. Nash currently has a concussion, but if he can be healthy in time, which he should be, I see no reason to leave him out. He has tons of speed and a heavy shot that would be crucial to have with Sidney Crosby as a go to guy and a protector.

Martin St. Louis (RW) Tampa Bay Lightning-

Not to take anything away from Steven Stamkos, but St. Louis' leadership and skill set has had a huge impact on the successful career of Steven Stamkos. Marty led the NHL in points in last years abbreviated season, still proving that he has a lot of game left in him. This team is lacking veterans, who I believe are needed to win championships at any level in any sport. Marty provides speed, a veteran presence, a smart hockey sense and a quick release. He's a huge competitor and you see it off the ice as well. His work ethic at his age makes him special, too special to leave off the roster.

Joe Thornton (C) San Jose Sharks-

Ah, the controversy. "He's too old." "He's a choker." "He's washed up." It's honestly amazing the criticism that Joe Thornton gets from the hockey world. Joe is a competitor who brings it to the rink every single night. He's a top faceoff man in the league, and he's arguably the best playmaker of his generation. Joe Thornton is 34 years old and still going strong, leading the NHL in assists. His incredible performance is under looked by the fact that he hasn't led the Sharks to a Stanley Cup yet. When in reality, Joe Thornton is probably the best playoff performer the Sharks have had in their nine consecutive playoff appearances. Joe makes everybody around him better, a huge threat on the powerplay with a big ice surface. His speed concerns me a bit, but he would be a great fit with 2 fast players such as Duchene and St. Louis. Joe also gives the team another veteran, crucial for a gold medal. He can be used in all situations, but it's important not to overwork him. His passing range on a wide ice surface makes him an absolute force. He's debatably one of the smartest players in today's game.

Extras:

Eric Staal (C) Carolina Hurricanes-

Staal's production this season has not been up to par, but the reality remains that he's a dominant, big bodied centreman that can move his legs and bring his game to another level in the clutch. He won a Stanley Cup in 2006 and he was great in the 2010 Olympics. He may have to fight for a roster spot, but for now I'll put him as a reserve.

Chris Kunitz (LW) Pittsburgh Penguins-

Kunitz has emerged as a top goal scorer in the NHL. He and Sidney Crosby have developed a substantial amount of chemistry over his years in Pittsburgh. Kunitz is also a very gritty and hard-working forward. He's a great player to have on the roster, based on his versatility and compete level.

Lines

Nash-Crosby-Tavares

Couture-Toews-St. Louis

Giroux-Getzlaf-Perry

Duchene-Bergeron-Thornton

DEFENSE:

Duncan Keith (D) Chicago Blackhawks-

Keith has recently won two Stanley Cups. He is the best left-handed shot on defense that Canada has. Keith is all but a lock for this team on defense. He moves the puck extremely well and has a great scoring touch as well.

Shea Weber (D) Nashville Predators-

Weber has always been known as an absolute force on the blue line. He has a killer shot, shot blocking abilities and bone crunching hits. He can do it all. He's a great fit for this team because he provides a great offense game and an even better defensive game.

Alex Pietrangelo (D) St. Louis Blues-

Alex has really emerged as a top defenseman in the NHL since being drafted. He skates very well, shoots well and is a great puck moving defenseman. He essentially has all the tools to be the next great defenseman in hockey.

Drew Doughty (D) Los Angeles Kings-

Drew Doughty has worked himself into the elite category for NHL defenseman. He's a fast puck mover with a quick and hard shot. He's extremely good at getting away from forecheckers and using his hands.

PK Subban (D) Montreal Canadiens-

PK is a special player. He can go end to end with the puck at any given time. He is a straight up competitor. His attitude and hot temper does sometimes get the best of him, but if this guy is focused on hockey, he is probably the most electrifying defenseman on the roster. He's got a bomb of a shot and amazing skating ability. My only concern is that he leaves his defensive responsibilities behind him. If so, this is where my final defenseman comes into play.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D) San Jose Sharks-

Who? Why? Vlasic has always been known as a stay at home defenseman, but now he's emerged into much more than that. He's taken on a huge hit for ice time, becoming San Jose's most efficient shut down defenseman. With a tournament filled off offensive talent, Vlasic provides the important defensive aspect of the game. His offense isn't too shy either, as he has 11 points in 18 games this season. If Subban decides to take a rush, Vlasic will always be there to back him up. He makes all the right decisions on defense, and jumps up on offensive chances when appropriate. He's got a terrific hockey sense, great puck moving ability, an offensive upside and he's a shot blocking machine. Team Canada lacks left-handed shooting defense, so Vlasic plays a key role on this team for many reasons.

Extras:

Brent Seabrook (D) Chicago Blackhawks-

Seabrook has tremendous chemistry with Duncan Keith, and they proved to be a great pairing in Vancouver 2010. Seabrook could provide some much needed depth on the Canadian roster.

Jay Bouwmeester (D) St. Louis Blues-

Again, a left-handed shot who has a lot of chemistry with Alex Pietrangelo. He's a great depth defenseman and his offensive upside is starting to show this season.

Lines

Keith-Weber

Pietrangelo-Doughty

Vlasic-Subban

GOALIES:

Carey Price (G) Montreal Canadiens-

Carey Price is the best goaltender on the roster. Despite a weak finish to the regular season and playoffs last year, Carey Price is one of the most consistent goaltenders in the world. Every night he brings his A game to the rink, so you know what you're going to get.

Mike Smith (G) Phoenix Coyotes-

I've got to say, he's proved me wrong. After an incredible 2011-2012 season, I thought he was just a fluke. Last year he wasn't great, so I thought I was right about him. This year, he's been stellar and he's more than capable of beating out guys like Holtby and Crawford of a spot on this team. My only concern is that he needs to come out of his net more and cut off angles for shooters, especially at the Olympic level.

Roberto Luongo (G) Vancouver Canucks-

Leading them to a 2010 gold medal, it is believed that the starting goalie job is Luongo's to lose. He provides experience and his skill set is still very high. However, he has the reputation that he can't come up big in the big games, which he will have to do to be the starter.

FINAL TEAM CANADA LINEUP:

Nash-Crosby-Tavares

Couture-Toews-St. Louis

Giroux-Getzlaf-Perry

Duchene-Thornton-Bergeron

Keith-Weber

Pietrangelo-Doughty

Vlasic-Subban

Price

Luongo

Smith



Contact Zack at at zackbodenstein@letsgosharks.com


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