Tuesday, Hockey Canada officials will unveil the 25-man roster for the Sochi Olympics: 14 forwards, 8 defencemen, and 3 goalies. I’d say there are about 21 forwards and 12 defencemen with a reasonable shot at making the team, and probably 5-8 goalies. If I were in charge, here’s who I’d take, in approximate order:
- Forwards: Crosby, Stamkos, Toews, Getzlaf, Perry, Tavares, Bergeron, Duchene, Thornton, Marleau, St. Louis, Giroux, Sharp, Couture (stats for these 14 forwards)
- Defencemen: Doughty, Keith, Pietrangelo, Subban, Weber, Vlasic, Hamhuis, Bouwmeester (stats for these 8 defencemen)
- Goalies: Luongo, Price, Bernier
This is a roster of the best players available, in my opinion, not so much an “NHL roster” as it leaves off the likes of Kris Draper and Rob Zamuner. I paid some, but not much, attention to forwards’ positions, figuring elite players can slide over from centre to wing if needed. I also didn’t try to consider who’s better suited to Olympic ice. Defencemen are roughly split between left and right.
Notable “snubs” from my list — if you can call them that, because when you have a talent pool as deep as Canada’s, great players are necessarily left off — include Staal, Nash, Benn, and Seabrook.
All the guys on my roster are positive possession players except Stamkos and St. Louis, who more than compensate with their production. 7 of the 8 defencemen and 5 forwards play a lot of shorthanded time, meaning Canada should be OK on the PK. Everyone except Vlasic plays on the power play often. If you like at forwards in terms of even strength points per 60, there are three names that stick out at the bottom: Bergeron, Giroux, and Couture. I think Giroux and Couture, along with Sharp and St. Louis, would rotate through forwards spots 11-14. Bergeron is the team’s best possession forward even with the toughest zone starts and I’d be comfortable putting him out there against anybody.