It’s never too early to start planning for the next Winter Olympics.
Only two days have passed since Canada won its second straight gold medal in men’s hockey, and we’re already looking forward to the 2018 Games in Pyeongchang. Three-peat, anyone?
The obvious question is whether the NHL players will be able to participate. It’s already known that Steve Yzerman won’t be returning for Canada, so we put on our general manager’s hat to try and assemble the most logical roster for 2018.
Save the hate mail. We’re just trying our best to project the next four seasons. It’s not an exact science. Remember that at one point in 2010, Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers would have appeared on this list.
Note: Age in February 2018 is listed in brackets.
Sidney Crosby, PIT (30) — This is a no-brainer. Crosby is the best Canadian forward in the world and will be right in the prime of his career by the time 2018 rolls around.
Steven Stamkos, TBL (28) — It was devastating for Stamkos to miss the 2014 Olympics. When healthy, the Lightning sniper is one of the best goal scorers in the world. If NHLers are allowed in Pyeongchang, it’s certain he’ll be there.
Patrice Bergeron, BOS (32) — No one does the little things better than Bergeron. The Bruins forward adds offence, wins faceoffs, and is outstanding on the penalty kill. What more can you ask for?
Jonathan Toews, CHI (29) — Toews is one of the most complete players in the game and will only get better with age. At the age of 25, the Blackhawks captain has already won two Stanley Cups and two gold medals.
Jamie Benn, DAL (28) — The Stars forward was one of the breakout stars in Sochi. Benn is a reliable three-zone player that can play in all situations.
Corey Perry, ANA (32) — Perry, Ducks teammate Ryan Getzlaf and Benn formed one of the most effective forward lines for Canada in Sochi. There’s no reason to expect a decline over the next four
John Tavares, NYI (27) — Tavares is just coming into his own as a NHL superstar. He’ll undoubtedly want to return to the Olympics after suffering a knee injury in Sochi.
Ryan Getzlaf, ANA (32) — Getzlaf won’t have much hair in 2018, but he’ll still have his dynamic playmaking ability up front. If his speed doesn’t take too steep of a dropoff, he’ll be counted on as one of the four centremen.
Taylor Hall, EDM (26) — On a lousy Oilers team, Hall has been one of few bright spots. He has dynamic speed that is suited for the big ice, and he’ll be even more dangerous once he reaches his prime years.
Claude Giroux, PHI (30) — It was a bit of a surprise Giroux was passed over for the 2014 team, and he won’t want his country to make the same mistake again. Giroux needs to improve his consistency.
Matt Duchene, COL (27) — Duchene will be more than just a fringe player for Canada at the next Olympics. His speed cannot be matched by many on this list.
Tyler Seguin, DAL (26) — The Bruins may regret giving up on this guy so quickly. Under Lindy Ruff, Seguin looks like a star in the making. The question is whether he can play on the wing.
Logan Couture, SJS (28) — It remains unclear if his hand injury kept him off the Sochi roster. Either way, Couture has developed into an excellent forward who will definitely improve over the next few seasons.
Nathan MacKinnon, COL (22) — If MacKinnon stays on his current path, he’d be a suitable choice to fill the Duchene role in 2018.
Just missed out: Jeff Carter, LAK (32), Jeff Skinner, CAR (25)
Drew Doughty, LAK (28) — Doughty’s game perfectly transferred to the big ice. He was arguably Canada’s best player throughout the entire tournament.
Shea Weber, NSH (32) — Weber knew exactly how to play with a team that struggles to score. Even though the Preds have faded into mediocrity, Weber remains one of the league’s elite blueliners.
Alex Pietrangelo, STL (28) — Pietrangelo was one of the younger players on the 2014 team, but that didn’t slow him down. He’ll be even more complete once he gets more seasoned.
Duncan Keith, CHI (34) — Keith will be the elder statesman of the group. Along with Toews, he’s already won two Stanley Cups and two gold medals.
P.K. Subban, MTL (28) — Many Canadians thought Subban didn’t get enough ice time in Sochi. That problem won’t happen again in 2018. This guy needs to be a large part of the power play.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, SJS (30) –- Vlasic was the most unheralded pick for the 2014 squad, but he showed the world just how good he is.
Morgan Rielly, TOR (23) — This may be a bit of stretch, but Rielly has as much upside as any young blueliner. We’re projecting a sizeable breakout by the 2017-18 season.
Carey Price, MTL (30) — There’s no doubt about this pick. Price was voted the top goaltender in Sochi after allowing just three goals in five games.
Mike Smith, PHO (35) — Roberto Luongo will be 38 in 2018, so Smith will be the pick as the veteran backup.
Jonathan Bernier, TOR (29) — The Kings believed Bernier had elite potential, but he was stuck behind Jonathan Quick. He’s shown glimpses of greatness (behind a porous defence) in his first year in Toronto.