Canada’s initial 22-man roster for the 2013 IIHF World Hockey Championship has been set, and head coach Lindy Ruff will have all sorts of fire power to ice when his squad kicks off against Denmark on May 4.
Although Canada’s roster is often plagued by the inability to send its best players to the tournament –due to the NHL playoffs starting at the same time – this year’s group is loaded and as talented as any group they have sent to the Senior Men’s World Championship.
Here’s how the team breaks down:
The importance of strong goaltending at any international tournament cannot be overstated, but with Canada’s inexperienced defence corps and explosive forward group, whoever is tasked with keeping the puck out of the Canadian net will have some serious work to do.
It is assumed that the coaching staff will give both Mike Smith and Devan Dubnyk the chance to take the starting job. While Smith may have a slightly better NHL pedigree (lights out last year in the playoffs for the Phoenix Coyotes), Dubnyk has played in four World Championships and two Spengler Cups. Smith, on the other hand, has never worn a Team Canada jersey before and as any netminder who has been at the tournament before will tell you; the Worlds are a whole other animal than the NHL.
Chelyabinsk’s (KHL) Michael Garrett is a veteran piece for insurance.
If Canada has one presumed weakness, it is the defence group.
Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers is likely the most ‘elite’ player of the unit, while Luke Schenn is surprisingly (or maybe not surprisingly, since he spent his career up to this season with the Toronto Maple Leafs) the blueliner with the most World Championships under his belt (four to be exact).
Campbell and intriguing Edmonton Oilers rookie Justin Schultz will be counted on to provide offence from the back end, while Dallas’ Stephane Robidas is the grizzled vet that will need to steady a very young, and perhaps questionable, defensive group.
Should this group of forwards click, the rest of the teams in the tournament have a very serious problem.
As loaded with as many stars as any Team Canada since the NHL season was cancelled in 2005, this group represents a large chunk of the cast that will go for gold at the Olympics in 2014 (should NHLers participate).
Steven Stamkos had another huge season for the Lightning — 29 goals and 57 points in 48 games — and is certainly in the conversation as one of the best in the world. Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux is not far off either, as he brings his speed and skill into his first senior Team Canada experience.
Ryan O’Reilly and Matt Duchene are linemates in Colorado and the notion of these two speed demons as energy, checking-line players for Canada is not farfetched. The fast-developing Taylor Hall-Jordan Eberle Edmonton Oilers combination is another compelling, ready-made pairing. Also look for Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal to provide leadership and play first-line centre while wearing the ‘C’ on his chest.
Jordan Staal, Andrew Ladd and Wayne Simmonds all look to be fantastic in shutdown roles.
Notes: Canada can have a total of 25 players on its roster when the tournament kicks off on May 3 … six players are making their senior international debut … the Carolina Hurricanes and the Philadelphia Flyers both have four players in the squad and are tied for the most .
Head Coach: Lindy Ruff (Unattached)
Associate Coaches: Doug Shedden (EV Zug), Dave Tippett (Phoenix Coyotes), Barry Trotz (Nashville Predators)
General Manager: Steve Yzerman