While it is still undecided whether the NHL will participate in the 2014 Olympics in Russia next year, the speculation on who will represent Team Canada should the league take part has been heating up.
In this article, I will submit a list of 13 forwards, 7 defensemen and 3 goaltenders that would be on my Olympic Team for Canada. The order is based on my rankings of the players by position. I will also add a short list of other possibilities to fill roster spots at each position.
1. Sidney Crosby- If healthy, there is no one better on the planet. He will be the Captain of this team.
2. Jonathan Toews- The best player from the 2010 games has only gotten better since Vancouver. He will also wear a letter for Canada.
3. Steven Stamkos- Probably the best pure goal scorer in the league. He will be heavily relied on to continue that reputation on the big stage.
4. Claude Giroux- Magic hands that will likely center the team's second line behind Crosby.
5. Eric Staal- Another returnee from 2010 has had a strong start to this season after his numbers declined last year.
6. John Tavares- He gets better with every game he plays and will be a key contributor to Canada's offense.
7. Rick Nash- Third Olympics for Nash, making him the most experienced amongst the forwards.
8. Jordan Eberle- Oilers young gun is the most clutch player in World Jr. Hockey history, now he will need to take it to the next level.
9. Jordan Staal- The likely centerpiece of Canada's checking line, he can also provide some goals in that role.
10. Brad Richards- He was left off the 2010 club, but his chemistry with Nash and play under pressure puts him onto my 2014 squad.
11. Corey Perry- Only 1 goal so far this season, but I believe he will snap out of a slump and have a strong finish to this season and start to the next.
12. Mike Richards- He too has struggled offensively this season, but he is a win at all costs, gritty player that is needed on this team.
13. Ryan Getzlaf- His play has been solid so far this season, but depth at center could leave him on the outside looking in for this Olympics.
Other possibilites: This list is endless for Team Canada, but I think Jamie Benn, Patrick Marleau, Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent Hopkins could also contend for roster spots at forward.
1. Shea Weber- Struggling offensively this season, but still a lock for Canada's blueline.
2. Drew Doughty- Played very well in 2010, and his game went to a different level during the Kings Cup run.
3. Duncan Keith- He has been solid once again for the unbeaten Blackhawks this season.
4. Alex Pietrangelo- The Blues top defensemen is not out of place when talking about the best in the NHL.
5. Marc Staal- He is arguably the best shut down defensemen in the league, could pair with Weber to counter other countries top lines.
6. Kris Letang- International ice could be right up the speedy offensive minded D-man's alley.
7. Brent Seabrook- A returnee from 2010 who cannot be overlooked, he will make a strong case to be in the top 6.
Other possibilites: I think that after last year's playoffs, the value of Dan Girardi can't go unnoticed, he will push hard to make this team.
Justin Schultz has burst onto the NHL scene this year and if he continues to improve, he could find himself in the mix for Canada.
1. Carey Price- He has been brilliant for Montreal, even when the team in front of him lets him down. I believe the #1 goaltender job is his to lose.
2. Roberto Luongo- Despite the sideshow in Vancouver's goalie situation this year, Luongo has played well for the Canucks, and don't forget who was in goal for the OT win in 2010. His play under that immense pressure cannot be taken for granted.
3. Cam Ward- A former Conn Smythe winner, Ward has been great for the Hurricanes lately after a bit of a slow start.
Other possibilites: Marc Andre Fleury has not been the same after a dreadful playoffs last year, but if he gets his game back, there is no reason he can't make this team.
Martin Brodeur continues to be ageless in goal for NJ. While he may not be the starter, he could very well be on this team if he takes a back up or number 3 role.
Mike Smith put himself in the picture after an outstanding playoff run last year. He has battled injuries this season, but if his consistency is there over the next 12 months, he could be on his way to Sochi.
Stay tuned for my Team USA picks next week.
You can follow me on Twitter @TheRealJay77