Let the Debate Begin: Team Canada Final Edition

With the official announcement from Hockey Canada of the 25 players who will represent Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi less than twelve hours away, here is my final edition of who I think will crack the squad.

Included with my final selections, are the players who I thought would be on the team back in July when Hockey Canada announced the 47-man summer orientation camp, that are now no longer a part of my final team.

Forwards (14):

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars, LW (new)

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins, C "A"

Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks, C/LW

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, C "C"

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks, C (new)

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers, C

Chris Kunitz, LW, Pittsburgh Penguins, LW (new)

Rick Nash, New York Rangers, RW

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks, RW

Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks, RW

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, C "A"

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, C

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay, RW

John Tavares, New York Islanders, C

 

Omissions from July: Jordan Eberle, Brad Marchand, Eric Staal

 

The most notable change to my roster up front is the addition of Ryan Getzlaf, who in July I felt was a player who might not the speed or be the type of player that could succeed on big ice. With the combination of that, and the abundance of centermen, Getzlaf went from being off my team to being a lock on my final edition. Getzlaf has been lights out this season, leading the Ducks, who sit tied a top the Western Conference with 67 points.

Other new faces include Chris Kunitz who is a perfect compliment to SIdney Crosby, and Jamie Benn, who went from being a snub at the summer orientation camp, to the closest thing to a lock. Benn is not a lock, but I would be very surprised not to see him on Team Canada, especially with his versatility.

The locks for me are obvious, Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Getzlaf and John Tavares. The non-locks but almost guarantees are Patrice Bergeron, Logan Couture, Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Martin St. Louis and Claude Giroux. I put Kunitz and Rick Nash on the rosters as my 13th and 14th forwards/wildcards.

Injuries could play a factor heading into Sochi, with the notable one being Stamkos. Couture is reportedly set to under-go surgery on his hand and could miss 3-4 weeks. If those two are unable to go my replacements would be Mike Richards and Matt Duchene.

 

Defence (8):

Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks "A"

Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

P.K. Subban, Montreal Canadiens

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

 

Omissions from July: Kris Letang, Marc Staal

 

After getting the chance to watch P.K. Subban live when his Montreal Canadiens came to Calgary to play the Flames in early October, there was no doubt in my mind that he needed to be on Team Canada in Sochi.

There was the good and bad Subban during that game in Calgary, with the bad being the most concerning question heading into the official decision tomorrow. But with his ability to skate, booming shot, and ability to take over a game, for Steve Yzerman and the Team Canada brass not to say Subban's name tomorrow morning, would be a big mistake.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic is the other new member to my Team Canada's blueline. I would prefer Marc Staal over Vlasic, but with Staal's injury concerns, I do not think the difference between Vlasic and Staal is that big.

Locks on the back end for me are Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, and Shea Weber. The non-locks but almost guarantees are Vlasic, Alex Pietrangelo, and Jay Bouwmeester, while my 7th and 8th defensemen/wildcards are Subban and Brent Seabrook. That gives my defence five right handed shots and three left handed shots, something that has been widely debated heading into tomorrow's announcement.

 

Goalies (3):

Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Mike Smith, Phoenix Coyotes

 

July Omissions: Cam Ward

 

Nothing new in net other than Mike Smith getting the call over Cam Ward. Ward has once again been hampered by injuries this season, and becuase of that has not been on top of his game.

People have debated whether Smith is a benefactor of playing for the Phoenix Coyotes, comparing him to Ilya Bryzgalov. To me, Smith has proven to be a big game goaltender, who has the ability to make timely and big saves. I don't see Smith getting any playing time with Carey Price and Roberto Luongo (depending on his injury) ahead of him, but if called upon, I feel he would do just fine with the fire power he has in front of him.

Looking back at 2010, Luongo was just above average, but did not have to be spectacular with the team he had in front of him. Timely saves are more important than highlight reel, 50 save performances in short-term tournaments.

If Luongo is unable to go, Marc-Andre Fleury would be my pick to take his place, becoming the third string goalie.

 

Line Combinations:

 

Kunitz-Crosby-Stamkos

Tavares-Toews-Sharp

Benn-Bergeron-Giroux

Couture-Getzlaf-Perry

St. Louis-Nash

 

Keith-Weber

Vlasic-Doughty

Bouwmeester-Pietrangelo

Subban-Seabrook

 

Price

Luongo

Smith