Hockey Canada, I demand to have equal say as Corb Lund and Gerry Dee. Milos Raonic be damned. Here's my Team Canada:
UPDATE: Well, 21/25 ain't bad. It appears that Hockey Canada doesn't hold Logan Couture, James Neal, Eric Staal or Corey Crawford in the same regard that I do.
*Roberto Luongo (16-10-6, 2.23 GAA, .922 SV%)
*Carey Price (20-11-4, 2.22 GAA, .928 SV%)
*Corey Crawford (17-6-5, 2.47 GAA, .910 SV%)
Homer or not, Luongo is your starter. Why? Not because his performance is on par with Carey Price for the past several years. (Though it has been.) But because with a country as deep in all positions as Canada, intangibles like Olympic experience and familiarity are crucial. Luongo has that in spades over Price, straight up. Also, because Raonic's Team Canada is just crazy.
Now, with Luongo's re-injury yet to be diagnosed, the third-stringer position becomes an exponentially more crucial decision. Whereas before it could have simply been designated to a younger goalie, such as Jonathan Bernier, with long-term considerations in mind, the third goalie stands a real chance of seeing playing time if Luongo's injury flares up mid-tournament. For that reason, you have to give it to Crawford, because no other Canadian goalie besides Luongo has seen as much high-stakes hockey -- and succeeded -- as the Blackhawks goalie.
*Duncan Keith (3 goals, 39 assists, 42 points, +18)
*Drew Doughty (6 goals, 17 assists, 23 points, +13)
*Alex Pietrangelo (5 goals, 23 assists, 28 points, +15)
*Shea Weber (10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points, -11)
*Jay Bouwmeester (3 goals, 24 assists, 27 points, +21)
*Dan Hamhuis (4 goals, 9 assists, 13 points, +12)
*PK Subban (7 goals, 26 assists, 33 points +14)
*Marc-Edouard Vlasic (4 goals, 12 assists, 16 points, +12)
I would never have selected Bouwmeester for the top six in any of the years he was with Calgary. But I suppose not every Flame can Jarome Iginla their way to the NHL's elite despite atrocious surroundings. So there he is.
Dan Hamhuis and Marc-Edouard Vlasic both seem to be competing for the obligatory stay-at-home role. In their projections, SI gave it to Vlasic while assigning Dan Boyle one of the two extra spots over Hamhuis "by virtue of his offensive game." Meanwhile, PK Subban was given the second extra spot by the same virtue. The trouble with assigning both extra spots to offensive players is that if you're going to have a defenceman play the designated Adam Foote role, you should have a backup. And with eight spots, you should really be able to afford both. Subban gets the extra spot here, as the offensive sub.
John Tavares Sidney Crosby Steve Stamkos
Corey Perry Ryan Getzlaf James Neal
Patrick Sharp Jonathan Toews Claude Giroux
Eric Staal Patrice Bergeron Logan Couture
Jamie Benn Matt Duchene
No Chris Kunitz. Kunitz is a fantastic winger and is clearly a great complement to Crosby. But you have to believe that the role of Crosby's trigger man has to be better served with someone like Stamkos. And if Stamkos doesn't recover in time, Team Canada does not need to spread out their offense in the same way that Pittsburgh does by keeping Crosby and Neal on separate lines.
Also, no Rick Nash. I'm not sure why, besides the fact that he's been injured. But I've won many a bet with my friends who have overrated the Rangers winger and the production that can be expected of him. He's good. But in the midst of an injury-depleted season, he's just not that good to take the risk.
I have not seen Eric Staal on a lot of Team Canada projections, but a player like Staal is tailor-made for an all-star lineup's grinder role. While he's scoring below his career pace in 2013-14, his offensive touch is not going to be the primary reason why he gets the nod for the fourth line. And if Ryan Smyth's inclusion in 2006 is any indication, Team Canada is good to their World Championship captains.
Jamie Benn and Matt Duchene as extras. Benn provides the sort of all-around game that allows you to plug him into any holes that may arise in the lineup. Meanwhile, Duchene offers the same game-breaking ability that Subban does on the blueline.
Any way you slice it, Team Canada is stacked. For that reason, it'll be hard to criticize any player that they choose for Sochi. If Team USA is any indication, however, it's the omissions that will put the most pen to paper. Statistically speaking, Joe Thornton appears destined for the Bobby Ryan treatment. Though I can't imagine his 2 points in 2010 while receiving second line minutes will have anyone outside San Jose (or my friend Jeff who'll owe me a beer by tomorrow morning) all that choked.
And therein lies the difference between Canada and the rest of the world. At least on paper. Come February, it'll be a different story altogether.