What a provincial best-on-best Canada Cup would look like

Steven Stamkos talks about how special it is to be one win away from lifting the 2016 World Cup of Hockey trophy.

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey has proved to be a successful experiment by the National Hockey League and NHLPA.

The World Cup is here to stay, this much we know. How it is structured for future tournaments remains to be seen, but the introduction of ‘gimmicky’ squads Team North America and Team Europe effectively turned detractors on their heads.

Team North America, although gone too soon, provided some of the tournament’s most exciting moments. Team Europe and its mix-and-match collection of players from eight different countries surprised the field and played its way to the final versus Team Canada.

While it could be three to four years before we see another World Cup, we got to thinking about other opportunities for the NHL and NHLPA to deliver a unique tournament experience.

A modest proposal: Relaunch the Canada Cup as an all-Canadian best-on-best tournament.

Build teams based on provincial boundaries for British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, and Quebec, and have a pair of prairie provinces grouped together with a Saskatchewan/Manitoba squad while the Maritimes absorbs Newfoundland and Labrador to complete the field with an Atlantic team.

Like initial personnel announcements for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, we’ve identified a total of 16 players per team to be named to preliminary rosters for a provincial best-on-best tournament if it were to start today.

Team British Columbia

The Pacific Province lays claim to the best goaltender in the world in Carey Price, and boasts a solid defence corps in front of him. One-time Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn leads a group of forwards that features a good mix of size and skill.

G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
G Martin Jones, San Jose Sharks
G Andrew Hammond, Ottawa Senators

D Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens
D Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche
D Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
D Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
D Dan Hamhuis, Dallas Stars
D Cody Franson, Buffalo Sabres

F Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton Oilers
F Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators
F Milan Lucic, Edmonton Oilers
F Andrew Ladd, New York Islanders
F Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres
F Evander Kane, Buffalo Sabres

Team Alberta

If there’s an immediate weakness to Team Alberta it’s between the pipes. Without a true No. 1 goaltender to carry into this fantasy tournament, it’s on Winnipeg Jets prospect Eric Comrie to earn some playing time in the NHL. It’s a veteran group. Also, an opportunity for Taylor Hall to win something in his home province.

G Chad Johnson, Calgary Flames
G Ben Scrivens, HC Dinamo Minsk (KHL)

D Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues
D Mike Green, Detroit Red Wings
D Dion Phaneuf, Ottawa Senators
D Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues
D Johnny Boychuk, New York Islanders

F Taylor Hall, New Jersey Devils
F Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche
F Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes
F Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets
F Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens
F Tyler Ennis, Buffalo Sabres
F Clarke MacArthur, Ottawa Senators
F Jay Beagle, Washington Capitals
F Joffrey Lupul, Toronto Maple Leafs

Team Saskatoba

Team Prairies features a Vezina Trophy winner in goal with Braden Holtby, not to mention a one-time nominee in Devan Dubnyk to back him up. There’s no shortage of big-time tournament experience here with the likes of Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, and Patrick Marleau on board.

G Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
G Devan Dubnyk, Minnesota Wild
G James Reimer, Florida Panthers

D Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
D Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets
D Travis Hamonic, New York Islanders
D Michael Stone, Arizona Coyotes

F Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
F Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
F Mark Stone, Ottawa Senators
F Jordan Eberle, Edmonton Oilers
F Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks
F Patrick Sharp, Dallas Stars
F Max Domi, Arizona Coyotes
F Jaden Schwartz, St. Louis Blues
F Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues

Team Ontario

Too. Much. Talent. Any opportunity to expand the field in this hypothetical tournament goes through Ontario, where the possibilities include splitting the province into Southern/Northern squads, or a Greater Toronto Area team. Whatever the case, we’re looking at a team that could stand in for Team Canada.

G Brian Elliott, Calgary Flames
G Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

D Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
D P.K. Subban, Nashville Predators
D T.J. Brodie, Calgary Flames
D Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
D Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
D Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames

F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
F Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
F Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres
F Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers

Team Quebec

Regardez! La Belle Province is shaping up to be the trendy sleeper pick of the re-launched Canada Cup. Great goaltending, multiple puck-moving types on the blue line, and forward unit that can hold its own in all three zones.

G Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers
G Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
G Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks

D Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
D Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
D Jason Demers, Florida Panthers
D Francois Beauchemin, Colorado Avalanche

F Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
F Jonathan Huberdeau, Florida Panthers
F Derick Brassard, Ottawa Senators
F Mathieu Perreault, Winnipeg Jets
F Jonathan Drouin, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Alexandre Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
F P.A. Parenteau, New York Islanders
F Anthony Duclair, Arizona Coyotes
F Mike Ribeiro, Nashville Predators

Team Atlantic

Lord tunderin’ Jaysus byes! What Team Atlantic lacks in depth it makes up for in blow-your-hair back top-end elite talent up front. You really want to bet against Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon putting this team on their backs and carrying it to the final? Heck, Brad Marchand can spear his way through the field if necessary.

G Jake Allen, St. Louis Blues

D Adam McQuaid, Boston Bruins
D Andrew MacDonald, Philadelphia Flyers
D Brandon Gormley, Colorado Avalanche
D Morgan Ellis, Montreal Canadiens
D Adam Pardy, UFA

F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
F Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
F Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning
F Brad Malone, Washington Capitals
F Steve Ott, Detroit Red Wings
F Colin Greening, Toronto Maple Leafs
F Logan Shaw, Florida Panthers
F Teddy Purcell, Los Angeles Kings
F Eric Boulton, New York Islanders

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