Christopher Ralph – THW’s Flames, Draft and Prospect Correspondent
Off the top, I have to admit, no selection or omission will be all that surprising tomorrow when Yzerman et al. name their 23-man roster.
Reflecting back to the amazing atmosphere of the Red & White Team Canada scrimmage game at the Saddledome in Calgary this past August though, reminds me that the roster I had in mind back then will not necessarily match-up with the one revealed tomorrow.
Hockey fans and journalists nation wide have been pleading their cases for who they think should be named to that roster for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics in order to avoid the disastrous performance in Turin, Italy in 2006. Yzerman and crew have been working diligently non-stop to try and ensure they have the right mix of players to avoid that very outcome on home soil.
With the luxury of so much talent to choose from, any selection or omission can be defended, but it is an interesting exercise to try and predict some of the possibilities before the projected roster is finally announced December 30th, 2009.
(The 0-10 scale is merely meant to put a numerical figure on the likelihood of these scenarios happening, with “0” implying no chance and “10” implying a sure thing.)
10. While there seems to be a consensus on the three netminders (Brodeur, Luongo and Fleury), is there a possibility Steve Mason or Cam Ward enter in the discussion?
Or is the real debate on the order of the three crease protectors? Brodeur is my starter, but although Luongo is likely the backup, I would be leaning towards M.A. Fleury.
Probability (1st question): Unlikely (0.5/10)
Regehr seems to have fallen off Team Canada’s radar. Phanuef is progressing defensively as the season goes on, but might be too erratic at this stage of his career. The normally defensively sound and silky smooth skating Boumeester hasn’t really been up to par as of late. While I see Boumeester as the 6th or 7th d-man, he could just as easily not make the squad.
Probability: Somewhat Likely (4/10)
8. Have the Florida Panthers dynamic duo of Stephen Weiss and Nathan Horton done enough to make the squad?
While the two have been on a tear as of late after a slow start, I don’t see them in Vancouver 2010, other than spectators.
Probability: Unlikely (0.5/10)
7. Will Sidney Crosby be named captain?
That honour will likely be bestowed upon Scott Niedermayer, with Chris Pronger and Jarome Iginla garnering consideration as well. Team Canada brass will likely give SC97 an “A”, but want his focus to be on doing what he does best – play hockey!
Probability: Unlikely (1.5/10)
6. Will either or both of Steve Stamkos or John Tavares make the cut?
While Stamkos and his torrid goal-scoring pace at the beginning of the year made him look like a definite possibility, he has come back to earth most recently. While JT has been impressive with the Islanders, he’ll likely have to wait until 2014 to make his mark on the Olympics.
Probability: Unlikely (1/10)
5. Will Yzerman leave the NHL’s leading scoring defenseman, Mike Green, off the roster?
While, Green would be on my squad, as an armchair GM I obviously don’t possess anywhere close to the power of Yzerman et al. With 7 blueliners to be named, it can easily become a numbers game and the proficiency of Green’s defensive game will be heavily scrutinized.
Probability: Somewhat Likely (4.5/10)
4. Will a player with the name of Richards represent his country for hockey?
Mike got the summer invite, but Brad is likely the more deserving at this point in the NHL season. I thought Mike would be a shoe in given his gritty two-way play and leadership ability, but I’d honestly be surprised if he makes it now. Brad has been fantastic this season and his versatility makes him a keeper.
Probability: Likely (Brad) (5/10)
3. Will blueliner Drew Doughty actually crack Team Canada’s top 7 rear guards as a 19 year old?
Doughty is poised beyond his years and is already the anchor on the blueline of the NHL’s new sensation – the young gun Kings. He is currently sixth in scoring amongst NHL defensemen, but is equally adept in his own zone.
Probability: Likely (7/10)
2. Will Vinny Lecavelier fail to make this squad?
I was admittedly unimpressed with his lackluster performance in the Red & White Scrimmage game in Calgary in August. Although realizing that performance had limited weight in any decisions Team Canada brass would make, he has not done enough in my eyes to prove he belongs. Will there be an outcry from the French-Canadian population if Quebec is seemingly under-represented?
Probability: Very Likely (8/10)
1. Will any other non-invitees to this summer’s orientation camp make this roster – namely, Patrice Bergeron, Mike Fisher (Brad Richards was already discussed in #4)?
Yzerman and crew did an admirable job selecting invitees for the summer camp, but you had to know some guys would emerge and make decisions that much more difficult. Credit to Hockey Canada for not limiting themselves to just those they invited in August. Yzerman and Hockey Canada simply want the best team absolutely possible.
Bergeron has been all the buzz recently. Team Canada could use a player like him or Mike Fisher and their great two-way play. Dan Cleary was one such camp invitee who could’ve filled the role, but was having a tough season even before his separated shoulder, which will keep him out until mid-January.
Probability: Very Likely (8/10)