There may not be any current NHLers on Canada’s men’s Olympic hockey team, but there are plenty of players who were part of the world’s top league once upon a time.
Any one of the men who make up Canada’s off-ice leadership group will tell you this team was built to play, and win, ‘The Canadian Way.’
The Canadians will play a few pre-tournament tune-up games with the final roster ahead of the South Korean Games next month, where head coach Willie Desjardins will try some different lineup looks an settle on combinations. But Canadian GM Sean Burke made an appearance on Hockey Central at Noon on Friday and was asked who he thinks will make up the country’s top line. While he said that call was ultimately up to Desjardins, he had an idea of how that top line could look.
“Derek Roy at centre has had a very very successful career in the NHL, a good offensive player, has actually become a very good two-way centre in Europe. He’s a guy with offensive ability,” Burke said.
Roy was a second-round pick of Buffalo’s in 2001 who has 524 points in 738 career NHL games. This season he’s playing for Linkopings HC in Sweden, where he has eight goals and 25 points in 30 games.
“Wojtek Wolski, who is a great story,” Burke continued. “A year ago today or yesterday he was in a hospital bed with a broken neck. But Wojtek’s a very skilled player. Former first-rounder, if you look at his NHL stats they’re pretty impressive.”
Wolski was the 21st overall pick of the 2003 NHL Draft and spent most of his NHL career with the team that drafted him in Colorado. He most recently played for the Washington Capitals in 2013 and, in all, has 99 goals and 267 points in 451 NHL games. His best season was his rookie year, when he notched 50 points in 76 games.
“Guys like Gilbert Brule, who in the NHL was a fourth-line guy,” said Burke. “But he does have a lot of skill and has produced in the KHL. So I’d say there’s three guys right there all capable of playing on a first line.”
Brule was picked by Columbus sixth overall in the 2005 NHL Draft, but only played 299 games over eight seasons. His best season came in 2009-10 with Edmonton, when he managed 17 goals and 37 points in 65 games. This season he’s playing with Kunlun Red Star in the KHL and has 31 points in 40 games.
Without a stud up front, though, Team Canada will be creating its offence through a workman-like attitude from everyone in the lineup — you know, the Canadian Way.
“The balance we’ll have throughout our lineup is where we’ll have to get our scoring from,” Burke said.
“We’re not in the middle of the pack by our expectations. We’re not going to settle for anything less than gold.”