Sportsnet.ca will be projecting rosters for September’s World Cup of Hockey between now and when teams announce their first 16 selections beginning March 2. Today: Canada.
The refrain is always the same.
You know, that Canada has so much hockey talent it could ice two teams for a major international event, and both would be competitive.
And for the most part, it probably still holds true.
That said, there were worries earlier this year about exactly what had happened to Sidney Crosby and Ryan Getzlaf, and when you throw in the season-long injury problems of New York Rangers forward Rick Nash and Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, it would be easy to get a little uncertain about the heart of Team Canada’s lineup for the World Cup in September.
Watch: World Cup of Hockey Roster Announcement | March 2 at 4 p.m. ET on Sportsnet
It’s not like Canada couldn’t replace those players, if necessary. But you’d rather have them overtaken by younger players — like Price passed older Canadian-born goalies for the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games — than have them eliminated by injury.
As it stands, Crosby and Getzlaf have found their games, and Price may be able to play some hockey before the Canadiens’ season is over. Nash, it’s expected, will be back to help the Rangers in their spring playoff drive.
So the first 16 players announced on March 2 won’t likely include any surprises, and should include mostly returning players from the 2014 Olympic champs. Price will be named to the team, and if it turns out he has a lingering injury issue, he can be replaced before the tournament starts.
The challenge for GM Doug Armstrong and his staff will be players No. 17-23. There will also be some from the 2014 team who will be in tough to make it this time around.
The difference from other years is that there won’t be many “young guns” to challenge for spots since all Canadian players under the age of 24 will be tied up as candidates for Team North America and not available to Team Canada. (Under these rules, Matt Duchene wouldn’t have been able to play for Canada in Sochi.)
So, the “two teams” argument may be a little trickier to make for Canada this time around. But one team is all that’s needed, and Canada should have ample talent to ice a serious contender that will likely be the favourite going in.
Head Coach: Mike Babcock
GM/Executive Committee Members: Doug Armstrong (GM), Marc Bergevin (assistant GM), Rob Blake (assistant GM), Ken Holland (assistant GM), Bob Murray (assistant GM), Scott Salmond (assistant GM)
Line 1: *Jamie Benn *Ryan Getzlaf *Corey Perry
Line 2: *Rick Nash *Sidney Crosby *Jeff Carter
Line 3: Matt Duchene *Jonathan Toews *Patrice Bergeron
Line 4: Tyler Seguin *John Tavares *Steven Stamkos
Extra: Ryan O’Reilly
* Denotes Group of 16 named on March 2.
Names that could still make things interesting: