Patrick Sharp should make Team Canada's cut: Guillaume Lefrançois
Radio-Canada senior hockey writer outlines which NHLers would make his Olympic team
Three Hart trophies, one Conn Smythe, two Selke, two Norris, 14 Olympic gold medals and 20 Stanley Cup rings: That’s what you get when you assemble Canada’s team for Sochi. Well, at least, my version of it.
Great all-around players on left wing, two of the NHL’s best two-way centres in Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron, and some pure goal scorers on the right wing in Corey Perry and Steven Stamkos.
On the back end, a couple of pairings in the Central Division have made Steve Yzerman’s decisions much easier.
Before going any further, here's a list of who I'd choose for Team Canada.
Line 1: Chris Kunitz (PIT) – Sidney Crosby (PIT) – Steven Stamkos (TB)
Line 2: John Tavares (NYI) – Ryan Getzlaf (ANA) – Corey Perry (ANA)
Line 3: Logan Couture (SJS) – Jonathan Toews (CHI) – Claude Giroux (PHI)
Line 4: Patrick Sharp (CHI) – Patrice Bergeron (BOS) – Martin St-Louis (TB)
Extra forwards: Matt Duchene (COL), Eric Staal (CAR)
Notable omissions: James Neal (PIT), Rick Nash (NYR), Tyler Seguin (DAL)
Duncan Keith (CHI) – Brent Seabrook (CHI)
Jay Bouwmeester (STL) – Alex Pietrangelo (STL)
Shea Weber (NSH) – Drew Doughty (LAK)
Extras: Marc-Édouard Vlasic (SJS), P.K. Subban (MTL)
Notable omission: Dan Boyle (SJS)
Roberto Luongo (VAN), Carey Price (MTL), Martin Brodeur (NJD)
Notable omissions: Mike Smith (PHX), Josh Harding (MIN), Corey Crawford (CHI)
Defending these picks
Stamkos’s value to this team is just too high for him to be left out, even if his health makes it a bit of a gamble. As for Kunitz, I think over the last couple of years he’s hammered the point home that he and Crosby work pretty well together.
I first thought that Getzlaf would have to move to the wing and that Tavares would remain at centre, but Getzlaf’s chemistry with Perry is just too good to overlook.
As for the “Bottom 6” (a laughable expression given the talent of those players), I split the duo of Toews and Sharp, simply because I see Couture as a better fit on a third line than on a fourth.
I was really torn on what to do with Nash and Staal, who have both had subpar seasons statistically. Both won in Vancouver four years ago and their history with Hockey Canada runs really deep. Ultimately, it might come down to Nash’s health issues, and to the fact that Staal has shown flashes of his old self.
Unfortunately for Vlasic, the two established duos work just too well to be broken up. And there’s no way he bypasses Doughty and Weber, even though both are right shots, one will have to play on his opposite side. Boyle would’ve made for a nice addition to the group, but with 4 holdovers from the Vancouver roster, it’s not like experience is a problem in the back end.
The top two jobs in goal were Price's and Luongo’s to lose and they did all right things to keep them. As for the third goalie, placing Brodeur there is not really a prediction. It’s mostly wishful thinking.
Guillaume Lefrançois is a senior hockey writer with Radio-Canada Sports and has been offering his insight and evaluation on Team Canada hopefuls all season long, in our weekly power rankings.