by PuckStopsHere on 01/08/14 at 12:37 AM ET
The Canadian Olympic Team was named earlier today. Here are my picks if I was tasked with selecting the team. I will comment on this team. Specifically I will comment upon the discrepancies between my team and the team named today.
Roberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks
Carey Price Montreal Canadiens
Mike Smith Phoenix Coyotes
These are the goalies I selected as well. I think goaltending is as good as it can be for Team Canada.
Jay Bouwmeester St Louis Blues
Drew Doughty Los Angeles Kings
Dan Hamhuis Vancouver Canucks
Duncan Keith Chicago Blackhawks
Kris Letang Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Pietrangelo St Louis Blues
Brent Seabrook Chicago Blackhawks
PK Subban Montreal Canadiens
Marc-Edouard Vlasic San Jose Sharks
Shea Weber Nashville Predators
I have Brent Seabrook and Kris Letang in place of Dan Hamhuis and Marc-Edouard Vlasic. I thought Seabrook was a "no brainer" pick. He has Olympic experience. He works well with Duncan Keith. He has the top +/- rating among Canadian defencemen. He is the third highest scoring Canadian defenceman. Despite that offence, his biggest strength is his defence.
Kris Letang is off to a slow start this season, but he has a track record as one of the best defencemen in hockey. If he had been healthy for the full season in either of the last two years, he probably would have won a Norris Trophy.
I would argue that Hamhuis and Vlasic are safe but unspectacular picks. The problem with that argument is Seabrook is a safer pick. Vlasic and Hamhuis are on the team largely because they shoot left. That one attribute is more important than the better skillset of the players I picked. That seems to me to be a case of not seeing the forest for the trees.
Jamie Benn Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron Boston Bruins
Jeff Carter Los Angeles Kings
Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins
Matt Duchene Colorado Avalanche
Ryan Getzlaf Anaheim Ducks
Chris Kunitz Pittsburgh Penguins
Patrick Marleau San Jose Sharks
Rick Nash New York Rangers
Corey Perry Anaheim Ducks
Patrick Sharp Chicago Blackhawks
Steve Stamkos Tampa Bay Lightning
John Tavares New York Islanders
Jonathan Toews Chicago Blackhawks
I disagreed about five of these players. I have Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Mike Richards, Martin St Louis and Joe Thornton in place of Jamie Benn, Jeff Carter, Matt Duchene, Patrick Marleau and Rick Nash.
I think the easiest comparisons are the teammates. Mike Richards is a better player than Jeff Carter. They have had quite similar careers having played together in junior, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. Richards has Olympic experience and Carter doesn't. Richards is a better defensive player. Richards has more total points and a better points per game over his career. I think it is clear that Richards is a better player and given his better defensive ability, he better fits on the team.
Joe Thornton is also a better player than Patrick Marleau. Thornton is a future Hall of Famer and a former MVP. Marleau isn't. Thornton has been the higher scorer for most of their careers, including the last three seasons. Thornton currently leads the NHL in assists. Having the current best set-up man in the league on your team is something that Canada should want.
Martin St Louis is the reigning NHL top scorer. This is an award he has won twice. He is a future Hall of Famer and a former MVP. He has good chemistry with Steve Stamkos. Why isn't he on this team?
Claude Giroux was seen as being off to a poor start this year despite a nearly point per game scoring rate. His 93 points was good for third in scoring in the NHL in its last complete season. He is a talent who belongs on this team.
Taylor Hall is the best offensive player in the old Northwest Division. People who haven't been watching the Edmonton Oilers regularly have probably missed how good he has become. He was the ninth highest scorer in the NHL last year and looks capable of finishing around that level this season.
Jamie Benn appears to be selected because he will be good enough to make this team in the future. He is behind Thornton, Hall, Giroux and St Louis in points this year. He has never had a point per game season yet and is not on pace to do it this year. He is a player who has many skills and scouts rave about him, but he hasn't shown the ability to put his skills together at the level of other players who were omitted.
Matt Duchene has one more point than Benn so far this season and is quite a similar pick. He has never seriously flirted with a point per game season although scouts love his game and think he will someday soon. He is not as good a player today as others who were omitted.
Rick Nash is not having a good season. I think he would have made this team if he was playing better, but a sniper with nine goals on the season shouldn't be on the Olympic Team. I am beginning to wonder if he has entered the decline phase of his career. He appears to have been selected because of his past successes in Olympic hockey. However that argument is flimsy. Joe Thornton and Mike Richards are players who played well on the 2010 gold medal winning team and are having much better seasons but are not on the Olympic team.
When all is said and done, Canada has a lot of talent to choose from. I don't think they picked the best possible team. I think that they will regret a few of their picks. Dan Hamhuis and marc-Edouard Vlasic are unlikely to do anything spectacular and will be the first defencemen to be sat when the going gets tough. I think they may regret the missing offensive talent especially from Martin St Louis and Joe Thornton. I think they will miss Brent Seabrook on defence. I think this team did a better job of picking their team than the Americans did. I think the Americans made a bigger mistake by not selecting some of the best offensive defencemen available to them in Dustin Byfuglien and Keith Yandle. They will struggle to move the puck on defence.
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