Hockey Canada has announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Without further ado, here it is:
Forwards (14): Jamie Benn, Patrice Bergeron, Jeff Carter, Sidney Crosby, Matt Duchene, Ryan Getzlaf, Chris Kunitz, Patrick Marleau, Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Patrick Sharp, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews
Defense (8): Jay Bouwmeester, Drew Doughty, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Shea Weber
Goalies (3): Roberto Luongo, Carey Price, Mike Smith
UPDATE: Despite his best efforts, Steven Stamkos won’t be joining Team Canada due to a broken tibia. His Tampa Bay Lightning teammate, Martin St. Louis, was selected to fill the void.
Just a few quick thoughts (same as we did for the Americans’ roster announcement):
— Canada is the clear-cut favorite to defend its gold medal. On paper, this team shouldn’t have trouble with much of anything. Goaltending will be the one area that’s questioned, and if there’s going to be a downfall, that may well be it. But both Luongo and Price are enjoying solid NHL seasons and could just as easily be spectacular in Sochi. Remember that Luongo already got it done in 2010, and that was despite the immense pressure of playing at home in Vancouver, and Price is right there in the conversation for the Vezina Trophy in 2013-14.
— Canada boasts three of the top four scorers in the NHL (Crosby, Tavares, Getzlaf) and didn’t have room for Joe Thornton (5th), not to mention Martin St. Louis and Claude Giroux. But the Canadian forwards do more than score — in Toews and Bergeron, the two last Selke Trophy winners, Canada can deploy two of the premier 200-foot players in the game. That’s going to be important if they ever go up against the host Russians, whose overwhelming strength is in their top-six forwards.
— Last but certainly not least, the defense. Only Sweden comes close to matching the “depth of talent” (one of executive director Steve Yzerman’s favorite phrases) on Canada’s blue line. Keith and Doughty are recent Stanley Cup-winners who should see plenty of ice time, just like they did paired together in Vancouver. Weber provides a physical presence and a booming shot. Bouwmeester can skate for miles, likely paired with St. Louis teammate Pietrangelo. And Vlasic and Hamhuis are about as reliable as it gets. As for Subban, it’s telling that the defending Norris Trophy winner was no lock to make the team. At this point, it’s unclear how much coach Mike Babcock will play the 24-year-old, or even if he’ll dress for all the games.