Friday, 27 December 2013
The not so definitive 2014 Canadian Men's Hockey Team Roster
Anyhow, on to business. I've been reading and listening to everyone making their men's hockey roster predictions, and pined for the day that I could do the same. You see, my December 24th and 31st TSN 690 shows were cancelled due to the holiday break.
But suddenly, I realized that I still had this great vehicle to vent about my opinion. So take that!
Alright, now here we go. My list plays favourites, makes assumptions and even generalizes. That said, I still think it's a pretty darn good roster. This roster isn't a fantasy hockey team. This is a team built to win on international ice. There are no Rob Zamuners on this squad!
Top Line - Couture - Crosby - Stamkos
I know what you're thinking, "What? Logan? On the top line? And no Kunitz? And Stamkos, isn't he hobbled?" Yes. Yes. No. Kinda.
Logan Couture is this generation's Joe Sakic, except bigger. He is that damn good. He will do anything to win and has already proven to be clutch. Couture can also slide in and take a draw in a pinch, kills penalties effectively, and will do the dirty work for both Crosby and Stamkos. The entire country underrates what he can already do.
As for Stamkos, he WILL be ready. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on radio. However, it would seem to me that the man is ahead of schedule and is one of the world's best conditioned athletes. Give me the game's top trigger man for the game's premiere centre for my team, please.
Line 2 - St. Louis - Getzlaf - Perry
Inexplicably, a lot of people leave Marty off this team and I can't understand it. This is an international ice tournament, people. St. Louis is small and quick, and has the experience and leadership to boot. And has anyone noticed that the man is STILL producing in Tampa, even without Stamkos? Getzlaf and Perry are warriors, but they could use some speed on their line, to say the least. If St. Louis makes this team, it should be alongside a couple of big dudes.
Line 3 - Tavares - Toews - Carter
Arguably, this could be the most important line of the team. The third line can either be responsible for checking the opposing team's top line, or it can be pressed into offensive duty, to perhaps spell a top-two struggling line.
Toews and Carter are winners, having hoisted the cup and come up big in primetime matchups. As for Tavares, he's another guy who is underrated because of the team he plays for. Like St. Louis, Tavares has done more than enough to be a part of this squad, and he is versatile and elite enough to play multiple roles on a club. All three of these guys can play centre, but this is the alignment that I would prefer.
Line 4 - Neal - Bergeron - Sharp
For the fourth line, you want guys who can play specific roles, but also be ultimate team guys. Bergeron is a clutch face-off and checker, capable of scoring the winning goal. Neal is a big body who can crash the net and score. Sharp is a winner with a quick trigger who can play on the power play or adapt to any role required of him. It's hard to see this combo failing.
Extra forwards - Duchene-E. Staal-Giroux
I know, how can Eric Staal be off the top 12 forwards, right? Well, he's had some horrendous starts to his seasons the last couple of years. He's not as dominant as he's been in the past. Heck, even his own brother couldn't help him catch fire. Still, he's very good and some will argue that he could even be slotted alongside Crosby.
Matt Duchene was the trendy name at the start of the season, before he got injured and tailed off. His body of work simply isn't dominant enough to merit a starting assignment on this team. However, his skillset should be brought to the Games as an insurance policy.
Claude Giroux is world class when he's on his game. Unfortunately, he has been inconsistent in recent years. Bring him to the Games and use him as a motivator to get others going, I say.
Omissions - Kunitz - Seguin - Nash
On his own team, Chris Kunitz is a core player. But, his skillset is surpassed by his countrymen above him on this list. You can't bring him just because he plays with Crosby in the regular season.
Tyler Seguin has matured and blossomed in Dallas. But it's hard to put the nation's fate in a young guy with a spotty track record thus far. Give me more dependable guys, please.
Rick Nash is a living MASH unit. As soon as you announce his name to the team, he'd probably raise his hand in celebration and dislocate his shoulder. No thanks.
Keith - Doughty
Bouwmeester - Pietrangelo
Letang - Weber
Vlasic - Subban
Okay, I've seen some arguments for leaving Subban off the team. But I just don't buy any of them. For me, he's at the very least an extra D for now. As for Letang on the wrong side? Well, I don't believe in taking lesser skilled and experienced players because of that right-left shooting breakdown. We're taking about wider ice here, folks, and I think either Letang or another right D would be fine moving over.
My only iffy pick here is Bouwmeester. He's having a good year in St. Louis, but he's just not known as a winner.
Omissions - Seabrook - Boyle - M. Staal
Well, it was tough not to bring Seabrook. The man is a warrior and obviously would mesh well with Keith. However, it's also hard to argue with anyone ahead of him on this list.
Speaking of warriors, Boyle is another D who I loooooove. But I just felt like it was time to go with an up-and-comer.
Marc Staal is steady but not special. I don't think the team would miss him.
Call me crazy, but I'll take the guy who won the gold medal in 2010 over the guy who has not played for his country in quite some time. Luongo has had a good year and I think he deserves the first start in the round robin. If he pulls a 2010 Brodeur, simply slot in Price. Also, Mike Smith has been as consistent a goaltender in the world over the last few years as anyone. He needs to be on this roster.
The depth isn't what it used to be. I don't think anyone could make a case for any of these guys ahead of the three I went with.
Well, there you have it. These are my picks. And what do they mean? Absolutely nothing. But still, it relieved the pressure on my brain that resulted from not sharing the, in the first place. So thanks for indulging me.
What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment and I'll discuss them on my January 7th TSN 690 program.
Listen to Game Points with Matthew Ross on TSN 690 Radio in Montreal Tuesdays at midnight and hear him host the station's Sunday NFL coverage throughout the day. Follow Matthew on Twitter @TSNmatthew