Making the cut: Who will be on Canada's men's Olympic hockey team?
Our weekly power rankings of 30 Canadian NHL skaters
Canadian hockey fans are obsessed with breaking down who might make the Olympic team for Sochi. Now that the NHL season has started, senior hockey writers from CBC Sports and Radio-Canada, Tim Wharnsby and Guillaume Lefrançois, will debate how the main candidates are doing each week.
In addition to our weekly rankings below, Tim and Guillaume will choose one player to debate in greater detail.
First up: Martin St. Louis.
I can appreciate the difficult position Hockey Canada executive director Steve Yzerman is in. The heart and soul of his Tampa Bay Lightning is 38-year-old Martin St. Louis. He’s only a few months removed from being the oldest Art Ross Trophy scoring champion. Yzerman has admitted one of the most difficult conversations he’s ever had was with St. Louis after he took over the Lightning a few months after he left St. Louis off the Canadian Olympic team.
I'm also afraid there might not be room for St. Louis. But who has better chemistry with Steven Stamkos — of the few locks on Team Canada — than good ol' Martin St-Louis? Last season, St-Louis assisted on 18 of Stammer's 29 goals. That's 62 per cent of his goals, and we're not counting the times St. Louis was on the ice, but did not assist.
But with all the talent Canada will have up front, St. Louis’s ice time likely would be limited to spot duty. I’d rather have someone with the breakaway speed of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand. He’s so skilled, so swift and such a good penalty killer. I like the way he works with Patrice Bergeron and could see the pair comprising of two-thirds of Canada’s fourth line.
A talented forward like Stamkos will be a threat, regardless of whom he plays with. But Steve Yzerman had this to say to the Lightning's website back in July: "There’s very little time to prepare for this tournament. If we’re in a position to take players who’ve played together and are familiar with one another, it may help in the coming together process." This might just be St. Louis' way in.
|1. Sidney Crosby||2 even-strength goals in 2 games||Another good start to the season for Sid the Kid.||He has to play really badly to lose his No. 1 spot on the team.|
|2. Duncan Keith||Played 28:56 in the 2nd game of the season||I could see him being the anchor of the Canadian squad.||I don't see how the No. 1 defenceman of the two-time Stanley Cup champions could be ignored.|
|3. Patrice Bergeron||Scored a short-handed goal against the Lightning||He has returned to full health and full value.||Another fixture, even if he may not score so much.|
|4. Steven Stamkos||2 assits in less than 2 minutes against the Blackhawks||Nobody has scored more goals since the 2010 Winter Games.||The best goal scorer in the world, hands down.|
|5. Jonathan Toews||Face-off success rate of 58%||He's simply the best Canadian two-way forward.||See Duncan Keith. Exchange defence for centre.|
|6. Corey Perry||Scored game winner againt the Jets||Scored GWG on Sunday. Nobody has more GWGs since beginning of 2010-11 season.||His performance has diminished since his 50 goals of 2 years ago, but he remains an asset.|
|7. John Tavares||2 assists in 2 games||He has improved his skating each year, but is he a strong enough skater for the big ice?||He could be amazing if he had better wingers than Matt Moulson and Kyle Okposo.|
|8. Drew Doughty||Ranks 3rd for ice time (27:29) in the NHL||Already has a goal after waiting 29 games last season.||Another one who won the Stanley Cup/Olympic gold combo.|
|9. P.K. Subban||On the ice for the Habs' 2 power-play goals||All eyes will be on him to see how he follows up his Norris Trophy-winning season.||His talent is not in question. Must continue to not cause a stir.|
|10. Shea Weber||0 points and -2 in 2 games||A big shot and a big lock.||A constant Norris-trophy contender shouldn't worry about his place.|
|11. Brent Seabrook||6 bodychecks in 2 games||Only six defenceman scored more than his eight goals last year.||His physical presence remains crucial.|
|12. Eric Staal||-3 in his first game of the season||He has rebounded from his knee injury at the worlds.||Unless something bad happens, he shouldn't lose his spot.|
|13. Taylor Hall||-5 after 2 games||Playing out of position. Too early to judge.||Clearly not ready to play centre. Should be re-evaluated when he goes back as a winger.|
|14. Ryan Getzlaf||Face-off rate of 41% after 3 games, while registering only 1 point||A big man who can move well on the big ice.||Will his pairing with Corey Perry remain intact in Sochi?|
|15. Claude Giroux||No points in 3 games despite logging the most ice time of any NHL player (67:04)||Once considered a lock, he needs to rebound from a poor 2013 season.||A late start to training camp could explain his slow start.|
|16. Chris Kunitz||He hasn't been held pointless for two straight games sinceMarch 29 & 30 of 2012||He has good chemistry with Crosby, but doesn't everybody?||He's going to go wherever Sidney Crosby takes him.|
|17. Matt Duchene||Face-off success rate of 57%||Part of the reason the Avs are off to a good start.||He has to be good in many areas in order to get a ticket to Sochi.|
|18. Rick Nash||A fight in his 1st game||He has been hindered by a foot injury to start the season.||Only 1 game last week. We'll see how he does this week with 4 games.|
|19. Joe Thornton||A calm start to the season, but 2 wins for the Sharks||As his production declines, so does his chance of making Canadian team.||He has to prove that he's not too old for the Olympic Games.|
|20. Logan Couture||3 even-strength points in 2 games||He has excellent tranistion speed for the big or small ice.||One of the new faces that we could see on Team Canada.|
|21. Kris Letang||He hasn't played yet this season||A leg injury has kept him on the sidelines.||He started skating again, so he seems closer to a comeback.|
|22. Andrew Ladd||A 2-goal game to end the week||A good start for the Jets captain.||If he wants to be part of this fight, he has to maintain his pace of a point per game from last year.|
|23. Martin St. Louis||Stamkos involved in both of St. Louis's goals||Oldest scoring champ hasn't slowed down.||The years don't seem to slow him down.|
|24. James Neal||2 shots in only 3:49 of ice time this season||He has been slowed by an undisclosed upper-body injury.||If his injury keeps him off for too long, he's done.|
|25. Mike Green||4 assits on the power play in 3 games||Always productive, but is he good enough in his own end?||After 2 seasons off, he has regained the rhythm he used to have at the beginning of his career.|
|26. Mike Richards||No points and -2 in 2 games||Not sure he's in the mix anymore.||He could fall victim to some new blood.|
|27. Jordan Eberle||2 games of more than 20 mins of ice time||He needs to regain his 2011-12 form.||He will have to provide a spectacular beginning of the season if he wants to be one of the candidates.|
|28. Karl Alzner||Averaging more than 22 mins per game||Looks good alongside Caps teammate Mike Green.||His lack of offensive skill prevents him from standing out.|
|29. Dan Boyle||No points in 11 mins of power-play time||Likely to be replaced by a younger offensive talent.||Alex Pietrangelo and Subban put him in danger.|
|30. Dion Phaneuf||9 hits in 3 games||Still makes too many gaffes.||Will there still be a spot for the Maple Leafs' captain?|