In my last blog post, I did an analysis of the Team USA roster for the World Cup of hockey. In this post, I am going to focus my analysis on Team Canada and similarly break down the pros and cons of their roster.
Starting with goaltending, it is hard to against the three goaltenders they chose, Crawford, Holtby and Price, but I am going to do so anyways. Unlike the Team USA roster where the three goalies chosen were by far the cream of the crop; Team Canada made a bold decision in picking Price over Luongo and Marc-Andre Fleury. The crappy thing about this, is they all sustained injuries over the course of this past season, however, Price has not played a game in long time. Will he reclaim his old form? Will he be used sparingly as to not re-aggravate the injury? Will Crawford be the starter? Does Holtby have juice left in the tank? These decisions all weigh in to not only this tournament, but each goaltenders ability to help guide their team. Montreal is expected to make the playoffs this season with a healthy Price, Washington basically has all their cards on the table and are in a ‘win-now’ mentality and Chicago will be strong in the Western Conference. Could Luongo or Fleury have made a bigger impact, or at least eased the decision making? Only time will tell. Overall Grade: B+
Burns, Doughty, Pietrangelo and Weber, round out the top four of a very strong Canadian defensive corps. I am not really big on the Muzzin and Vlasic selections, however, they both scored more points than Pietrangelo this past season. I think overall Pietrangelo is a much better defensemen than the two of them and with the firepower Team Canada has sitting at home, it’s a head scratcher as to why these two guys made the cut. Possibly an even bigger question lies in the late selection of Jay Bouwmeester. Everyone should know by now that Subban is rumored to be a cancer in the locker room, but how is Letang left off this list? He was only second in defensemen scoring among Canadian born players this past season is as dynamic of a player as Doughty. Is there something in Letang’s closet we don’t know about? If it were my decision Letang and Seabrook would have made the initial cut and I would have picked up Vlasic or Muzzin instead of Bouwmeester. Even so, the seven chosen form one of the best defensive groups we will see at the World Cup. Overall Grade: B+
As far as the forwards go, you could make an argument for several players left off the roster; namely Hall, Spezza, Perry and O’Reilly, but when you look at the depth of the forwards, it’s hard to replace any of those players. I am excited to see Giroux finally get to play for Team Canada in international competition and they have a group of forwards that can make plays (Crosby, Thornton, Giroux), guys who can finish (Stamkos, Marchand, Seguin) and guys who can fill roles (Getzlaf, Bergeron, Toews). Six of their forwards are Captains of their respective NHL team, so leadership is not an issue. Opposing goaltenders will breathe a sigh of relief as Jamie Benn has backed out of the tournament to give himself more time to heal after off-season surgery. This will have an effect on the team as I think he is one of the top 5 players in the world right now, but an adequate replacement was made. Overall Grade: A
Team Canada is poised and positioned to play in the Championship game, anything less would be considered a disappointment. They are arguably tops in the tournament in goaltending (Team USA is solid) and defense (Team Sweden is comparable), but stand alone when it comes to the depth of their forwards. As elite athletes competing on an international stage, it will be interesting to see if they can find the chemistry required to win as they did in Sochi in 2014 and the last World Cup of Hockey in 2004.