Olympic power rankings of 30 Canadian NHL skaters: Week 3
Does Ottawa's Jason Spezza have what it takes?
In Week 3 of our Olympic hockey power rankings, Tim Wharnsby of CBC Sports offers his thoughts on the performances of his top 30 Canadian skaters. Each week, Wharnsby and Radio-Canada's Guillaume Lefrançois also debate one player in greater detail.
This week's player for debate: Jason Spezza of the Ottawa Senators.
Tim Wharnsby: There is no doubt centre will be a position of strength for the Canadian Olympic team with players like Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Steven Stamkos and Patrice Bergeron. But I believe Jason Spezza is worthy of a look as the 13th forward.
He’s versatile enough to play some wing on spot duty, but he also would be an ideal power-play specialist. The 30-year-old Spezza has scored 67 goals in man-advantage situations in the last seven-plus seasons, sixth among Canadians behind Dany Heatley (85), Jarome Iginla (76), Patrick Marleau (75), Eric Staal (75) and Steven Stamkos (73).
Guillaume Lefrançois: If Spezza is to make this team, he will need two things: injuries in front of him and a red-hot start. With eight points in seven games, he has certainly proven that he’s over his recent injuries. The stretch of five games in eight nights he just went through was a good test for his back and his groin.
Injuries have also hit other Team Canada hopefuls so far with James Neal, Rick Nash and, most recently, Taylor Hall getting hurt. However, all three of them are wingers, and they still have plenty of time to come back.
As long as all the centres stay healthy, there are just too many bodies ahead of Spezza, that either have Olympic experience (Crosby, Toews, Bergeron, Getzlaf) or that will be key parts of Team Canada for years to come (Stamkos, Tavares). Spezza falls between those two categories.
TW: Despite back surgery that limited him to a combined eight regular-season and playoff games last year, and an early season groin ailment this season, Spezza has five goals in seven games and has shown maturity on the ice with his puck management and in the dressing room as the Senators' new captain.
|1. Sidney Crosby
Key Stat: Points in 8 of his last 9 games and leads the NHL scoring race
Tim says: The Kid is off to his best start.
Previous ranking: 1
|2. Steven Stamkos
Key stat: Blanked in a tough outing against Boston
Tim says: A few days off to sharpen his incredible touch.
Previous ranking: 2
|↑||3. Jonathan Toews
Key stat: Only 4 points in 8 games
Tim says: This guy is all about leadership and big games.
Previous ranking: 5
|↑||4. P.K. Subban
Key stat: 3 points in 3 games
Tim says: Needs to stay away from unecessary penalties.
Previous ranking: 9
|↑||5. John Tavares
Key stat: 7-game point streak
Tim says: Just keeps getting better and better.
Previous ranking: 6
|↑||6. Shea Weber
Key stat: 2 goals in 4 games
Tim says: He has the Predators on a roll lately.
Previous ranking: 9
|7. Corey Perry
Key stat: 2 goals, 3 points vs Dallas on Sunday
Tim says:The Ducks have won seven in a row.
Previous ranking: 7
|↑||8. Ryan Getzlaf
Key stat: 4-point game vs Dallas
Tim says: How can you not notice how well he's been playing?
Previous ranking: 14
|↑||9. Eric Staal
Key stat: He's riding a 4-game point streak
Tim says: Where would the Hurricanes be without their captain?
Previous ranking: 10
|↑||10. Logan Couture
Key stat 2 goals, 4 points in 3 games
Tim says: Love his speed and versatility for Olympic team.
Previous ranking 16
|↓||11. Duncan Keith
Key stat: Played 29:13 vs rival Blues last week
Tim says: A slow start for Keith and the Blackhawks.
Previous ranking: 3
|12. Brent Seabrook
Key stat: 2 assists in past 2 games
Tim says: He and Keith are so dependable.
Previous ranking: 12
|↑||13. Matt Duchene
Key stat: 3 game-winning-goals in last 4 games
Tim says: A big reason why Avs are off to a good start.
Previous ranking: 21
|↓||14. Patrice Bergeron
Key stat: 55.3 per cent in the faceoff circle
Tim says: Just so reliable.
Previous ranking: 4
|↓||15. Drew Doughty
Key stat: Scored GWG early in third vs Dallas on Saturday
Tim says: He's off to a much better start than a year ago.
Previous ranking: 11
|↓||16. Taylor Hall
Key stat: Scored twice in eight seconds in game against Ottawa
Tim says: On the shelf with a knee injury for four weeks.
Previous ranking: 13
|↑||17. Patrick Marleau
Key stat: 5 points in 3 games
Tim says: 8-game point streak to start the season.
Previous ranking: N/A
|18. Marc-Édouard Vlasic
Key stat: Tied for league lead in plus-minus at +10
Tim says: His early season effort has him in Olympic mix..
Previous ranking: 18
|19. Alex Pietrangelo
Key stat: Eighth overall in ice time at 25:46
Tim says: One of the best young offensive defencemen in NHL.
Previous ranking: 19
|↓||20. Martin St. Louis
Key stat: Held pointless in last two games.
Tim says: Despite past two games, he's been solid early.
Previous ranking: 17
|↓||21. Claude Giroux
Key stat: A week with 4 points in 3 games
Tim says: The Flyers are in the midst of a week off.
Previous ranking: 15
|22. Joe Thornton
Key stat: 6 points in 3 games last week
Tim says: Still an assist machine and good on faceoffs.
Previous ranking: 22
|23. Rick Nash
Key stat: Hasn't played since Oct. 8
Tim says: Out with a concussion.
Previous ranking: 23
|↑||24. Jordan Eberle
Key stat: 2 goals, 4 points in 3 games
Tim says: Has picked up his play, but needs to be better defensively.
Previous ranking: 25
|↑||25. Jason Spezza
Key stat: 4 goals in 3 games last week
Tim says: Has overcome back and groin injuries.
Previous ranking: N/A
|↑||26. Joffrey Lupul
Key stat: 6 goals in 9 games
Tim says: This guy can skate and score.
Previous ranking : N/A
|↑||27. Tyler Seguin
Key stat: 6-game point streak snapped on Sunday
Tim says: Difficult to ignore the strong start by the youngster.
Previous ranking: N/A
|↓||28. Mike Green
Key stat: Yet to score after 12-goal season last year
Tim says: He's a strong power-play performer.
Previous ranking: 27
|29. Jay Bouwmeester
Key stat: 3 assists in last 2 games
Tim says: Blues coach Hitchcock has been giving him plenty of ice time.
Previous ranking: 29
|30. Kris Letang
Key stat: Has yet to play due to a knee injury
Tim says: He likely will return this week.
Previous ranking 30