Since it’s currently the craze for everyone involved with hockey to offer up their opinions on the upcoming Olympic rosters, well, I just had to throw in my two cents.
Today, I’ll look at Team Canada.
First and foremost, let’s just assume that Steven Stamkos is a no-go with his broken leg.
Therefore, my top line for Canada would be:
Jamie Benn–Sidney Crosby–Claude Giroux
With Stamkos out, the best replacement in my eyes is Dallas Stars stud Jamie Benn. Yahoo sports only has him listed at 6’2″ 205, but he plays much bigger than that. Not only does he have 32 points in 36 games so far this season, but he is a load to handle down low. Hard to get the puck off this guy and yet he also boasts good wheels and fantastic hands. Benn is a perfect compliment in my eyes to the smaller Crosby and Giroux.
John Tavares—Ryan Getzlaf—Corey Perry
With 39 points in 38 games, Tavares is simply a beast. He is a top-10 player that unfortunately doesn’t get the press he deserves playing on a struggling Islanders team. There are other candidates to play the left side of the Getzlaf and Perry combo. Rick Nash and Matt Duchene come to mind, but these two don’t make the cut for me. Neither seems to really stand out this year when it comes to leadership roles with their clubs.
Logan Couture—Jonathan Toews—Patrick Sharp
This would be my shut down line. Couture and Toews are two of the best two-way centers in the league and Sharp has some chemistry with Toews in Chicago. I would keep Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron waiting in the wings in case Sharp isn’t pulling his weight, but this is how I would start.
Martin St. Louis—Joe Thornton—Brent Burns
St. Louis and Thornton at 37 points and 40 points respectively, are both amongst the top-8 amongst Canadian forwards in scoring. Thornton is fourth overall and leads the NHL in assists with 35, it’d be simply nuts to leave either of these two out of the starting lineup. As for the right wing on this line, well, this is where you might call me a homer. Personally, I’d go with Brent Burns over any candidate you could come up with who is a left-handed shot. Thornton works best with at least one wing owning a right-handed trigger. Not to mention Thornton has been paired with Burns for the majority of this season and down the stretch last year for San Jose. While there are other right-handed options here including Tyler Seguin, Jordan Eberle, Jazon Spezza, none of them bring the sheer size and strength that Brent Burns gives this line.
Line five (reserves)
Rick Nash—Patrice Bergeron—Tyler Seguin
Nash has had international experience with both Thornton and Crosby, Bergeron has all the intangibles you could ask for, and Seguin has chemistry going with Stars teammate Jamie Benn.
1. Drew Doughty—Duncan Keith
While I’m a big fan of chemistry, there are simply too many Canadian defenseman who are more useful than Brent Seabrook.
2. Marc-Edouard Vlasic—Shea Weber
One of those defenseman more useful than Seabrook is the Sharks’ Vlasic, arguably the best in the league in stick positioning. Vlasic and Weber creates Canada’s shut-down duo.
3. Jay Bouwmeester—Alex Pietrangelo
They’ve played together in St. Louis, this pairing is rather a slam dunk.
4 (reserves) P.K. Subban—Brent Seabrook.
Subban won the Norris, Seabrook has chemistry with Keith.
Roberto Luongo, Cam Ward, Carey Price.
Goaltenders are unpredictable, flip a coin each night.