Team Canada Aimed For Gold: Roster Predictions

Former Detroit Red Wing captain and now NHL hall-of-famer Steve Yzerman has a tough road ahead of him. Assembling hockey country’s Team Canada for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver this February. The roughest part of his duties is to pick the best hockey players who are from a country full of great professional talent. That would be Canada.

Head Coach Mike Babcock will have the oppurtunity to put these unbelievable lines together. A job that becomes extremely difficult because of different skill sets of different guys.

The worst part for Yzerman is when it is all over and the rosters are finalized, is to tell the plethora of great Canadian hockey players who didn’t make to try again next time. That’s the job I don’t want any part of.

So, I wanted to get a piece of this pie and predict who I think will be on the final roster come February 2010 in Vancouver.

DEFENSE:

The two obvious picks of this bunch. Any of these two can even be named captain of Team Canada:

Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers- He’s wearing a new sweater this season being in Philadelphia, yet, his play is resembling that of a 25-year-old Pronger. The proclaimed ‘Nastiest player in the NHL’ will obviously bring tenacity and leadership that can’t be measured. There aren’t many players left in the league that demand the amount of respect he possesses.

Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks – Niedermayer, who won Olympic gold back in 2002, brings experience to a team that will need it. The 36-year-old out of Edmonton is said to be one of the players eyed to be given the captaincy. He’s in my top three; however, my nod wouldn’t go to him.

Morreale:Niedermayer, who is captain of the Ducks, is the only Canadian player in the history of the NHL to have won six major championships — the Stanley Cup, Memorial Cup, World Junior Ice Hockey Championship, IIHF World Championship, Olympic gold and World Cup of Hockey title.”

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators- Weber has proven how good he really is both defensively and on the offensive side of the puck. He’s big and strong with a nasty shot from the blue line and should find a roster spot on this team over some names that have been thrown around.

Mike Green, Washington Capitals– Washington’s sharpshooter form the blue line should finally see the starting lineup for his native country come Vancouver. He had a spectacular season last year and is proving his worth once again this season. Green is as viable to that Caps lineup as Alex Ovechkin is nightly.

Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks- Boyle has turned himself into one of the best puck-moving d-men in the National Hockey League. He has a great shot from the point, and will be one of the first guys you see on an odd-man rush. It also helps Boyle that he’s having a stellar start to the season with San Jose.

Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames- Outside of Chris Pronger, there’s nobody that eats up more minutes than Jay-Bo. He’s always on the ice, never takes a shift off and can show signs of a playmaker when the puck is on his stick. Remember, Bouwmeester played in the 2006 Olympic games when he replaced Niedermayer.

Dion Phaneuf, Calgary Flames- This was a toss-up between Phaneuf and Chicago’s Duncan Keith. I chose Phaneuf for the same reason why i’d like to have him here in Philadelphia. He embodies toughness and grit. I stated before that Pronger demands respect, Phaneuf should be added to that list of guys who demand respect. But with the case of Phaneuf, he will literally beat it out of you. One of the biggest, if not, the biggest hitters in the game today, he brings a mental and physical toughness that Team Canada should have an abundance of.

Notables who didn’t make my list: Chicago Blackhawks’ Duncan Keith, and Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty.

GOALIES:

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils- Not much left to say about arguably the greatest goalie to ever play in this league. To me, this becomes the most obvious choice Yzerman has to make in terms of bona fide starters. Brodeur is proving so far this season he still has game left in that 36-year-old tank of his. He’s the no. 1 goaltender for this squad, hands down.

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks- Many think because this years games are in Vancouver, Luongo would have a slight edge over Brodeur. As time has passed and Luongo’s early start to his season has been in disarray, Brodeur became the shoe-in for the number one spot. However, having Luongo as a your backup isn’t too shabby either.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins- He’ll be 25 years old when the Olympics start. It’s obvious, with a Stanley Cup championship under his belt he is the future netminder for Team Canada. Just not now. Fleury has already earned his big-game status with his performances throughout the playoffs the past two seasons. He has never been to the Winter Games so this will be a first.

FORWARDS:

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames- The captain of Team Canada in Vancouver 2010. Well, that is of course in my opinion. Iginla is one of the most respected captains in all the National Hockey League. No stab to Niedermayer, but this is now Iginla’s team. Iginla will most likely be part of, what could be the most dominating line in entire Olympics. The line would consist of Iginla-Crosby-Nash. That trio becomes the definition of consistency and dynamic.

I spoke with NHL.com writer Mike Morreale about the possibility of Iginla being named captain and why its the right move:

Morreale: “While it’s still early, there’s good reason to believe that either Jarome Iginla of Calgary or Scott Niedermayer of Anaheim will be named captain of Team Canada when the 2010 Winter Olympics are staged in Vancouver next month. My gut feeling tells me Iginla, who was named the 18th captain in Flames history at the start of the 2003-04 campaign.”

“Don’t forget, Iginla emerged as the star for the Canadians in the 2002 Winter Olympics when he scored twice in the gold medal game to give his team a 5-2 victory over the Team USA in Salt Lake City. He also participated in the ’06 Games in Turin, notching 3 points in 6 games.

Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers- One of the best two-way players in the entire NHL, Richards will bring his expertise and skill to the penalty-kill and power-play units. He’s a point-per-game player and a shut-down center. Can’t get much better or consistent than the Flyers captain.

Morreale: “As far as the Flyers are concerned, I would expect Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Chris Pronger to get the nod for Team Canada at the 2010 Games. Carter would be used as that big scoring center or winger for coach Mike Babcock. Richards is the shutdown center who will likely be the club’s top penalty-killer and Pronger is the physically gifted defenseman who’ll provide that intimidating presence along the back-end. That’s a pretty formidable trio representing the orange and black.”

Jeff Carter, Philadelphia Flyers- A big sniper who can play all three positions (RW-C-LW). Which makes Carter reliable for coach Mike Babcock.

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins- Crosby will be the number one center, rightfully so. He has significantly improved at the faceoff circle which helps his game even more so. The 21-year-old defending Stanley Cup champ could also see an ‘A’ stitched to his jersey. That might be a tough pill for Flyers fans to swallow. (Laughs).

Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets- There might not be anyone better with the puck offensively than Nash. He will most definitely line up as Crosby’s left-wing with Iginla lining up on the right-wing. This line should produce an abundance of scoring that can help Canada play for gold.

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks- A guy known for his amazing playmaking ability will provide tons of scoring opportunities with whomever is alongside of him. Getzlaf might have to try and score more goals on this team but will most definitely provide a passing boost. His size will help the second line differ from the first line which can create havoc for defenders.

Brendan Morrow, Dallas Stars- Morrow will probably be out on the Richards’ line as yet another shutdown forward. The Stars captain scores and hit just as well. Very good on the defensive side of the puck.

Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks- A man who was basically shutout in Ottawa has found a new home with Joe Thortnon and San Jose. His scoring touch is as good as ever right now and would look perfect getting a one-timing feed from Getzlaf. Heatley should end up with the most goals through the Olympics.

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning- St. Louis still is one of the best threats in the league. The winger is off to strong start to the season and should easily end up on the Canada roster. He’s a lightning rod that would be appreciated on this roster.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks- Grit is the best word that describes the Blackhawk captain. He can play in any situation for coach Babcock. His shootout numbers are great and his presence around the boards and in front of the net are superb. Toews has earned a spot on this club. 

Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks– Marleau is off to his best start of his career. After having the captaincy stripped from his during the offseason, Marleau made it a point to prove his doubters wrong. Result: 25 points in his first 23 games. The 30-year-old center will provide a great faceoff presence and should help on the power-play as well. 

Ryan Smyth, Los Angeles Kings– A grinder, who will play alongside Morrow and Richards’. Like Richards, Smyth is a point-per-game winger who is off to strong start this season with 23 points in his first 22 games.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks- This 24-year-old winger continues to grow and get better with each year. Perry has 24 points in 19 games this season and has scored some clutch goals for the Ducks so far. Perry gets this final spot for me over the Lightning’s Steven Stamkos.

Left out: Joe Thortnon, Steven Stamkos, Simon Gagne, and Shane Doan.

CONCLUSION:

After searching around endlessly for a team that can contest with Canada, I couldn’t find any. I believe the Gold game should see Canada go up against Finland.

Team Canada, led by Steve Yzerman and coach Mike Babcock has all the possibilities of a Canadian dream team. The talent and consistency level on this club is second to none. The leadership should shine throughout every game. Canada might finally be on their way to witnessing a Gold medal come back to their country.

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Comments
4 Responses to “Team Canada Aimed For Gold: Roster Predictions”
  1. Matt says:

    as much as id like to see pronger carter & richie get gold in vancouver, it wouldnt upset me to see them not play in the olympics, or simply get knocked out early. the simple reason is extra wear & tear on the body & the risk of injury. the last thing i want to see is the flyers season get derailed by an injury to one of our key guys in a game that means nothing to the flyers. for the record, i think canada beats russia in a very exciting gold medal game

  2. Daniel says:

    THornton should definitly be on the team way better than symth, st. louis and morrow (no offence to any they’re good too) but he’s leaading the league in scoring and helps players around him(eg. Marleau and Heatley) should definitly be on the team

  3. Josh says:

    My picks are almost the same as far as the Captains go.

    Iginla – ‘C’ (New Captain Canada)
    Niedermayer – ‘A’ (Enough said about him)
    Crosby – ‘A’ (Future Captain Canada)
    Progner – ‘A’ (if they offer 3 ‘A’s. He has a ton of leadership, and experiance)

    The list does look goo, but the only things I would change are;

    Shane Doan instead of St. Louis
    Duncan Keith instead of Phaneuf
    Joe Thorton instead of Smyth

    Deffinently have to start Mary Brouder in net, and have Luongo on the bench. I think with the games being in Vancouver, might be too overwelming for him, and will make costly mistakes. And besides, this will more than likely be Marty’s last time to represent Canada.

  4. So funny how this loks now, like 3 months later. Haha.

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