by PuckStopsHere on 02/08/14 at 01:45 AM ET
In December I posted my picks for the Canadian Olympic Team and the US Olympic Team. While everyone on the US Olympic Team appears ready to go, there are two people on my Canadian Olympic Team that would be unavailable. Steve Stamkos is out of the Olympics because he has not fully recovered from his broken leg. Kris Letang was also a member of my team (though not the actual team) and he would be unavailable because of a recent stroke. Thus I have to replace a Canadian forward and a Canadian defenceman. My picks for both of these spots would be players who are not going to the Olympics.
The forward would be James Neal of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Neal has the fourth highest points per game in the NHL so far this year. I really don't know why he didn't get more consideration for the Canadian Olympic Team. I would add him now.
My defenceman is Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs. There isn't a clear choice to replace Letang. I reject Dan Hamhuis and Marc-Edouard Vlasic as being Olympic level players even though they made the Canadian team. Their choices were due to handedness more than hockey skills and that is a mistake. I would have considered Mike Green, but he is out with a concussion, so now is not the time to take a chance on him. Phaneuf has solid international experience, but has never quite made an Olympic team. He plays a solid physical game. His offence has dropped off as of late, but is still solid. There are concerns about his high PDO, but I think he is the best choice available to me. With injury to Dan Hamhuis, some wonder if he will get a call as an injury replacement on the actual team as well.
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