Thursday, August 27, 2009

Olympic Camp Breakdown

As I type right now some of the best players in the world are in Calgary trying their heart out to represent Canada next February. Any of the 46 players at the camp would make great members of an All-Star team like this. However, once it is all said and done only 23 players (plus maybe a few alternates) will be playing. I have broken down my thoughts for most likely team that I see happening.

Of course, this is all based on speculation at this point, and making the best possible "paper team" that is available. Also, Yzerman has been clear to point out that the camp selections may not be limited to players who are attending the camp. However, I would be shocked if anyone not on this list becomes a member of the team.

Next to each player is a blurb about why I think that they will/won't make the team, also a number between 1 and 10 for how likely I think that they are to make the team.

So without further ado...

Goalies

Martin Brodeur – Makes it on legacy alone. Add in the fact that he can still get it done, and this is one of the most certain choices at the camp. He will certainly have his work cut out for him to keep the starting spot though. 10

Marc-Andre Fleury – I think that he was able to close the “chocker” label that had haunted him for most of his career. He was simply astonishing in the playoffs especially in both game 7s he had to play. However, there is certainly a backlog in net and I think that he needs to have a great start to the season to get on the roster. 6

Roberto Luongo – See Brodeur, Martin. I think that he's the favourite to be the starter for now, but Babcock will go with whoever is hottest. 10

Steve Mason – He'll be under more scrutiny than anyone else at the start of the season. Was his phenomenal rookie year a fluke? Will he have the dreaded “Sophmore Slump” (a la Carey Price)? I think that those are both clear no answers. He's probably neck and neck with Fleury right now. 6

Cam Ward – Probably the favourite to be the third goalie. He is 6-1 in playoff series' which is pretty stunning to say the least, especially when you consider how none of those six victories would have came without him. Still, he needs to start out strong, and more importantly, he needs to be as good, if not better than Fleury or Mason. 7

Glen's Picks:

Luongo
Brodeur
Ward

Defencemen

Francois Beauchemin – Pro: He's a great physical presence with a great shot. Con: The describes to many other bigger names at the camp. He'd be a great addition to any roster, but I don't think that they have quite enough room for him on this one. 3

Jay Bouwmeester – Let's see, he's one of only three defenceman at the camp to have Olympic experience. He consistently leads the NHL in minutes played, he is one of the best skaters at the blue line in the league. Must I go on? 10

Dan Boyle – An interesting choice if there ever was one. He had a great bounceback year after leaving Tampa (surprise, surprise), and he was a member of the practice squad at the 2006 Olympics. However, I think that there may not be quite enough room for him on this roster. A strong start of the year could bump him up though. 6

Brent Burns – An even more interesting choice. He seemed like a lock after his stunning play in the 2008 World Championships, however a sub-par season had him fall off most depth charts. However, it should be noted that he spent a fair portion of the year playing as a forward. This gives him a great deal of versatility which can never be overstated in such a short tournament where one injury in a key position can create a large opening. I think that he would make a great addition to the alternate roster, but is a stretch to make the main roster at this point. 4

Drew Doughty – He's an absolute lock to be at the top defensive pairing...in 2014. Doughty showed an incredible promise for most of the season and should be a cornerstone for the Kings for years to come. However, his lack of experience hurts him at the moment. Still could be a great member of the alternate roster. 2

Mike Green – Was an absolute lock until his sub-par playoff run. However, he is still one of the most gifted offensive defencemen in the league. I think that he's a very likely candidate, even if he just mans the Powerplay. 8

Dan Hamhuis – He's a very prototypical Canadian defenceman. However, I don't think that he quite has enough to crack a very deep defence corps. 2

Duncan Keith – Shot up in the rankings in the playoffs, and with good cause. However, it is odd that he was not discussed more before that run, he was an All Star the year before after all. 7

Scott Niedermayer – Let's see, the Olympics are in his hometown, he has won more championships than any other active hockey player, and he's playing one extra year just to be eligible for the Olympics. Not only is he a lock but he should be a favourite for the Captaincy. 10

Dion Phaneuf – He had a bit of an off year which dropped him from a lock to a bubble player. However, I think that he'll start the season off incredibly motivated to atone for his slump. He's one of the best all around d-men in the league and should play like it again next year. 7

Chris Pronger – Apparently, after he was left off of Pierre McGuire's list last February and he called McGuire to guarantee that he would make it when it counted. His excellent playoff run certain helped emphasize that point. I certainly would not argue with him. 9

Robyn Regehr – As much as I would love to put him in there with the other Flames defencemen, I just don't see it happening. He's a great team player and would be an excellent choice, but I think that the “stay at home d-men light on the offensive talent” quota is being filled by Duncan Keith. If Keith falters, expect Regehr to take his place. 6

Stephane Robidas – I had no idea he was even in the running to be honest. He's solid, but this is supposed to be a spectacular lineup. 1

Brent Seabrook – As great as it would be to have Seabrook and Keith play together for the Red and White, I just don't see Seabrook making the final cut. He should fight it out with Regehr for a spot on the alternates. 6

Marc Staal – He will probably join Doughty on the top pairing in 2014. He has scores of potential, but potential doesn't win championships, certainly not at this level. I just don't see it happening, unless he blows the doors off of Madison Square Garden this year. 2

Shea Weber – Funny what difference a year makes doesn't it? He seemed like a long shot this time last year, but now seems like a lock. Hopefully, he won't be one of those Good Year-Bad Year players. 8

Glen's Picks:

Pronger – Neidermayer
Phaneuf – Weber
Keith – Bouwmeester
Green

Alternate: Regehr


Forwards


Jeff Carter – Seemed like the odd man out in Philly a year ago, but after scoring more goals than anyone whose name doesn't end with “echkin” this season I think that he's made a strong enough case for himself. 9

Dan Cleary – Interesting and sympathetic choice. He's been around for a long time now, and he seems to get better every year. However, after Kris Draper's curious inclusion in 2006, I think that they may have learned their lesson on Red Wings defensive forwards. 1

Sidney Crosby – Are we actually discussing this? 12

Shane Doan – Consistently puts up great numbers with little to no support in Phoenix. Always plays for Canada, and has no problem getting his nose dirty and shutting the big names down. He'll be playing. 10

Simon Gagne – I want to take him, really I do. He has a great success story, and put up very good numbers last year, but I think that he's getting bumped out for younger players, ironic considering his role on the 2002 team. Also, an injury early in the camp really hurts his chances here. 5

Ryan Getzlaf – He was a lock before his amazing playoff run. He's probably second after Crosby on the centre depth chart. That may not sound like much, but have you seen the other centres playing? 10

Dany Heatley – Easily the most contentious pick. Was a lock before his turbulent summer. This raises a ton of questions about his commitment to a team. However, he is Team Canada's all-time leading scorer at the World Hockey Championships. If we take him and don't win, it'll be his fault. If we don't take him and don't win, it'll be because he wasn't there to score goals. I'd take my chances in winning with or without him. 7

Jarome Iginla – Not only a lock, but another strong favourite for the Captaincy. 10

Vincent Lecavalier – He's won the Rocket Richard Trophy, a Stanley Cup, a World Cup, and a World Hockey Championship. I think that we can safely lock him up here. 10

Milan Lucic – I would love to see him on the team, just to see him hammer Malkin and Ovechkin. However, he is probably just going to miss the cut on the “hard hitting forward” category. He would be an interesting choice for the alternate roster though. 3

Patrick Marleau – I've gone up and down on my thoughts on Marleau. If he starts out hot he could end up with a spot on the checking line, but I think that he has an uphill battle after yet another short playoff run. 2

Andy MacDonald – I'm rather surprised that they invited him to the camp ahead of Marc Savard. Both are smooth skaters and crisp passers, but if you look at this list you will notice that passers are not exactly in short supply. I'd be shocked if he's playing in Red and White. 1

Brenden Morrow – He was a lock after his near-legendary play in the 2008 playoffs, however there are questions of his health at this point. He has spent the last few years going healthy-unhealthy-healthy, so he should be fine this year. I'd take him, and if he starts out great I think that Yzerman would be stupid not to. 7

Rick Nash – He scores 40 goals a year playing for Columbus, how do you think he'd do with Crosby feeding him? 10

Corey Perry – He would be a great addition to this team, but will probably be lose out in the logjam for the last few spots on the lineup. He should be favoured to be an alternate though. 6

Mike Richards – Probably the best two-way forward in the league who does not play for Detroit, thus making him Canada's best option. He'll not only play but he'll log some major minutes trying to contain the world's best. 10

Derek Roy – Skilled playmaker who is responsible in his own end, what's not to like? Sadly though, he is probably going to just miss the cut. 5

Patrick Sharp – Probably the most interesting “long shot” at the camp. While he is far from a superstar in the league, he is certainly dependable and a good finisher, and is one of the best penalty killers in the NHL. That is the kind of versatility that should appeal to the powers that be. Still, he has got to be a long shot. 5

Ryan Smyth – Sadly the time has come for Captain Canada to pass the title on to Shane Doan. It's been a great run Ryan, thank you. 2

Jason Spezza – The fact that he was a last minute addition to the camp certainly makes it seem unlikely that he will have a spot. I don't see this working out for Mr. Spezza. 3

Eric Staal – Was left off just about everyone's roster at the start of last season, and jumped up to a spot on the first line during the playoffs. The truth is he is somewhere in between. He's got the talent, and everyone's attention. Anything other than a disastrous start to the year will give him a spot. 8

Jordan Staal – I'd love to see him on the team, but I think that centre is just too deep for him this year. However, the debates should start now, will we see 4 Staal's on our 2014 team? I'm leaning towards a yes. But that's four years from now. 2

Martin St. Louis – His fantastic play at the world championships probably vaulted him above players like Perry, Gagne and Heatley for one of the final spots on the roster. I think that it's his for the moment, but that could change of course. 7

Joe Thornton – Got a lot of flack for having yet another terrible playoff. However, few in the NHL have his kind of scoring pedigree. He'll play so well at the start of the season that all of that should be forgotten. 8

Jonathan Toews – He'll be captaining the team someday. He may as well get some time to play right now. I think that he would be a perfect choice for 13th forward as he really can fit into any situation. 7

Glen's Picks:

Nash – Crosby – Iginla
Carter – Getzlaf – Thornton
Staal – LeCavalier – St. Louis
Morrow – Richards – Doan
Toews

Alternates: Perry, Sharp

Until next time,

G

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