Bottcher, Koe highlight curling team lineups starting to take shape for next season

Brendan Bottcher shoots a stone during the 2021 Boost National in Chestermere, Alta. (Anil Mungal)

Curling's free-agent frenzy has reached top gear with Sportsnet analyst Kevin Martin sharing the scoop on some of the new lineups for next season.

The end of the Olympic cycle typically sees several top teams tear down and start over again as they plan for the 2026 Winter Games in Italy, but not to the extent we've seen in recent days.

Martin discussed the breakups and shakeups during a special edition of the Inside Curling podcast released Friday.

Sportsnet confirmed the new lineups with a person familiar with discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the teams haven't been formally announced.

These lineup changes for the men's and women's teams will not take effect until the fall, and two Pinty's Grand Slam of Curling events remain on the schedule for fans to get final looks at some of the current rosters. The Princess Auto Players' Championship runs April 12-17 at Toronto's Mattamy Athletic Centre, followed by the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup, taking place May 3-8 at the Olds Sportsplex in Olds, Alta.

Here are a few of the high-profile changes for next season:

Team Bottcher (Alberta)

• Current lineup: Brendan Bottcher, Pat Janssen, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin

• New lineup: Brendan Bottcher, Marc Kennedy, Brett Gallant, Ben Hebert

Kennedy and Hebert, who represented Canada twice at the Olympics together and captured gold in 2010, reunite and join 2021 Brier winner Bottcher. Gallant, currently with recently crowned Brier champs Team Gushue, is moving to Alberta as he plans to marry mixed doubles teammate Jocelyn Peterman.

Team Gushue (Newfoundland and Labrador)

• Current lineup: Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker

• New lineup: Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden, Geoff Walker

With Gallant moving on, Gushue is looking to add Harnden from Team Brad Jacobs, which announced it's splitting up and its skip is taking a hiatus. Harden will serve as Team Gushue's alternate at next month's world men's curling championship in Las Vegas. There is an issue here as Harnden lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and they already have one out-of-province import with Walker in Alberta. Curling Canada will have to loosen its residency rules to allow this one to happen.

Team Koe (Alberta)

• Current lineup: Kevin Koe, B.J. Neufeld, John Morris, Ben Hebert

• New lineup: Kevin Koe, Tyler Tardi, Brad Thiessen, Karrick Martin

Four-time Brier champion Koe will add Bottcher's front-end pair of Thiessen and Martin plus Tardi, from Langley B.C. Tardi skipped Canada to back-to-back world junior championships in 2018 and 2019. Morris has retired from men's curling.

Team Dunstone (Manitoba)

• Current lineup: Matt Dunstone, Braeden Moskowy, Kirk Muyres, Dustin Kidby

• New lineup: Matt Dunstone, B.J. Neufeld, Colton Lott, Ryan Harnden

Dunstone will skip out of his birth province again after playing in Saskatchewan during the previous cycle. He reunites with Lott, who captured Canadian junior and world junior bronze medals with Dunstone in 2013 and 2016. The pair also played together during the Olympic trials as Lott subbed for Moskowy. Neufeld will also play out of Manitoba again after spending the last four years with Koe. Harnden, from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., comes over from Team Jacobs and can serve as their import.

Team Jones (Manitoba)

• Current lineup: Jennifer Jones, Kaitlyn Lawes, Jocelyn Peterman, Dawn McEwen, Lisa Weagle

• Jennifer Jones, Mackenzie Zacharias, Karlee Burgess, Emily Zacharias, Lauren Lenentine

Announced Thursday, Jones will link up with the reigning Manitoba provincial champions Team Zacharias. Jones, who skipped Canada last month at the Beijing Winter Games, will bring valuable experience as an Olympic gold medallist, two-time world champion and six-time Scotties winner. Zacharias, 22, skipped Canada to gold at the 2020 world junior championships.

Team Lawes

• Current lineup: N/A

• New lineup: Kaitlyn Lawes, Selena Njeogvan, Jocelyn Peterman, Kristin MacCuish

A merger of two teams with Lawes and Peterman from Team Jones joining Njegovan and MacCuish from Tracy Fleury's team. Lawes returns to skip, having captured world silver and bronze medals at the position in juniors.

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