Canadian Olympic men’s hockey power rankings: First impressions

Canada

Now that we know the NHL will be heading to Beijing to compete at the Olympics, sports talk in this country will centre around picking Team Canada.

When you throw in that the NHL season will be in progress -  players are essentially auditioning for a spot – the rosters will change on a regular basis. 

Between now and the team announcement, Rob Pizzo will be giving you the many versions of his Team Canada, as well as some players who are doing their best to get GM Doug Armstrong and coach Jon Cooper to notice them.

There may be a lot of time (and hockey to be played) before the team announcement is officially made, but why wait!

Teams can dress 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies (plus an extra player at each position).

WATCH | Rob Pizzo breaks down his current version of Team Canada:

Canadian Olympic men’s hockey power rankings: Ep. 1

56 minutes ago

The NHL season is now in part a tryout for various Olympic teams. Rob Pizzo breaks down his current version of Team Canada. 4:10

Forwards

First line
Left wing: Jonathan Huberdeau

His numbers (and physicality) over the last two years have not only put him on the Team Canada map, but also given him first line potential.

Centre: Connor McDavid

He could be in a coma and I’m still putting him on the team.

Right wing: Nathan Mackinnon

See Connor McDavid.

Second Line

(LW: Brad Marchand; C: Sidney Crosby; RW: Patrice Bergeron)

After these three dominated together at the World Cup, Jon Cooper should not mess with a good thing.

Sidney Crosby helped lead Canada to two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Third Line

(LW: Mathew Brazil; C: Brayden Point; RW: Mark Stone)

Brayden Point has led the playoffs in goals over the last two years. Barzal has averaged 72 points over his first four seasons and Stone was one of the best defensive forwards in the game. Not a bad third line.

Fourth Line

(LW: Ryan O’Reilly; C: Mark Scheifele; RW: Mitch Marner)

Just looking at this “fourth line” should not only make you laugh, but point to Team Canada’s depth at forward. What other country can put a Conn Smyth trophy winner (O’Reilly) this far down on its depth chart?

Extra

Steven Stamkos

Back-to-back Cup champ, and missed out on the 2014 Games because of an injury.

Defencemen

(Jakob Chychrun-Cale Makar; Shea Theodore-Alex Pietrangelo;  Adam Pelech-Aaron Ekblad; Extras – Morgan Rielly-Dougie Hamilton)

When you look at the possible blue-line, things are a little tougher to pick. The average age of the players above is just 26, and there is a serious lack of international “best-on-best” experience.

Goalies

Carey Price

Single handedly led the Habs to the Stanley Cup final.

Marc-Andre Fleury

Reigning Vezina trophy winner.

Carter Hart

Has to look better than he did last season, but could be a good chance to give him some Team Canada experience for future tournaments.

Outside looking in

Taylor Hall

A Hart trophy winner who is now on a Bruins team that could allow him to put up some big numbers. 

John Tavares

There are times when Tavares earns every bit of his salary, and then there are times when I barely notice him in a game. 

Sean Couturier

Lots of experience donning the Maple Leaf, but this is a tough roster to crack. 

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