5 candidates who could replace Steven Stamkos
Team Canada faces tough decision if Lightning star can’t play in Sochi
First things first: there really is no replacing Steven Stamkos on the Canadian Olympic team.
The 23-year-old sniper is one of the purest scorers in the NHL, and was tied for the scoring lead when he suffered a broken leg Monday.
The chances of him participating in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in February are certainly in doubt. Stamkos was going to be, along with Sidney Crosby, one of the marquee players for Team Canada.
A natural centre, there was a good chance he was going to be one of the numerous pivots that would be asked to switch to playing the wing; in his case on the right side. Now somebody else will have to step up and take his place.
Here are five candidates:
1. Claude Giroux (Philadelphia Flyers)
This has been an absolutely miserable season for the Flyers captain, who failed to score a goal in Philadelphia’s first 15 games. He appeared to be a lock to play for Canada when the team gathered for an orientation camp last summer, but may have since played himself off the team. However, he scored in his first goal in the team’s last game, and if he can start lighting it up as he has in the past, he could find himself stepping in for Stamkos.
2. John Tavares (New York Islanders)
With seven goals and 20 points in 18 games, the 23-year-old Tavares is another centre who may be shifted to the wing. Now in his fifth NHL season, Tavares’s skating is no longer the issue it was when he broke into the NHL. Natural offensive instincts make him a logical candidate to play on one of Canada’s top lines.
3. Joffrey Lupul (Toronto Maple Leafs)
Although he was not among the invitees to the summer camp, Lupul continues to be one of the NHL’s most dangerous scoring threats with eight goals and 12 points in 15 games. He has 44 goals in his past 97 games and can play either right or left wing. What may hurt his chances is the fact he is not a penalty killer and Canada is looking for forwards with plenty of versatility.
4. Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The veteran right winger is Stamkos’s linemate in Tampa Bay and is coming off his second NHL scoring title with the Lightning. The feeling is St. Louis is a natural winger who brings a solid two-way game and leadership to the table. He might be a perfect fit playing alongside Crosby.
5. Matt Duchene (Colorado Avalanche)
If Duchene was a bubble player at the start of the year, he isn’t now. With 11 goals and 19 points in 16 games, the 22-year-old speedster ranks 11th in NHL scoring. He is a versatile forward whose speed is perfectly suited to the large ice surface in Sochi.