Team Canada is going to be firmly placed under a microscope for the entire World Cup of Hockey. That’s what happens when you’re arguably the best hockey nation in the world. Canada has produced some of the most talented players in the NHL today. In our last article, we examined Canada’s forward lines and what each player brings to the table. Today, we’re going to break down the defensemen. You can find the article on the forwards, right here.
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
What hasn’t already been said about Drew Doughty? He’s one of the best young defensemen in the NHL today and for a very good reason. The former second overall pick in 2008 is a smooth skater who is able to control the play with ease.
He plays with a bit of an edge and figures to get major minutes on the Canadian blueline. He’s also a decorated award winner, taking home two Stanley Cups, two Olympic gold medals and a Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman. It also appears that Doughty will see some significant minutes on the first team power play, which is expected to be electric.
Team Canada 1st power play unit: Tavares-Crosby-Stamkos-Getzlaf-Doughty. Canada using 4 forwards on the PP
— Brent Wallace (@tsn_wally) September 5, 2016
Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles Kings
In such a short tournament, generating chemistry among teammates is vital to success. Muzzin and Doughty will no doubt see some playing time together, which can only be a positive for the team overall.
He’s a big, physical skater that can be used in a shutdown or offensive role, depending on what Team Canada coach Mike Babcock is looking for. He also has some championship experience to fall back on, including a Stanley Cup and World Championship gold.
Jay Bouwmeester, St. Louis Blues
Bouwmeester was a bit of surprise addition to Team Canada’s blueline. He was added to the team to replace the injured Chicago Blackhawk Duncan Keith, who is rehabilitating from a right knee injury. Bouwmeester is seen by some as a questionable add to the powerhouse Canadian squad.
It confused people that he would be selected over notable names like P.K. Subban or Mark Giordano. But Bouwmeester is no slouch. He was a member of Canada’s 2004 World Cup championship team and the 2014 Olympic Winter Games gold medal winning team.
He’s extremely steady with the Blues, and should be able to be a veteran shutdown presence. He is also a right-handed shooting defenseman, something that Mike Babcock likes to have a balance of on any team that he coaches. There’s also the chemistry factor with the next player on our list.
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
With the departure of David Backes to the Boston Bruins, the St. Louis Blues were looking for a new captain. The choice was an easy one for the Blues and Alex Pietrangelo was named the successor.
Congrats to our new Cap @apetro_27 , well deserved buddy! Itching to get the group back together! #50thanniversaryseason
— Alexander Steen (@Steener20) August 26, 2016
Pietrangelo, the former fourth overall pick in 2008, is also a wonderful addition to Team Canada. He’s a powerful skater who can easily transition from attacking to defending. Babcock wants a mobile and smart blueline, and Pietrangelo fits the bill perfectly.
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
Another extremely dependable presence on the blueline, Vlasic is exactly the type of player that Mike Babcock looks for. He’s a tenacious defender who plays hard every single shift.
Vlasic isn’t a flashy presence, but he’s incredibly effective at what he does. He’s able to smother a play and contain star players incredibly well. Just ask Sidney Crosby. The two met in the most recent Stanley Cup final, with Vlasic becoming a shadow to Crosby whenever he stepped on the ice.
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Who doesn’t love Brent Burns? His outgoing personality, tattoos, and wild beard made him a fan favourite all across the league these last few years. You can also add being an extremely talented hockey player to that list.
Burns was a monster last year, scoring 27 goals and a grand total of 75 points, both of which are career highs for the former Couchiching Terriers skater. Burns can easily play either forward or defense, which makes him a versatile presence on Team Canada’s roster.
Shea Weber, Montreal Canadiens
Over the summer the hockey world was rocked with the news of a couple of huge trades. Arguably the biggest involved the Montreal Canadiens and the Nashville Predators. After the dust settled, P.K. Subban was heading to the Music City and Shea Weber was on his way to Canada.
Weber is the Habs newest star. In recent days he’s been described by Mike Babcock as a “man mountain” which refers to his demeanour on and off the ice. Babcock has been heaping praise on the hulking defenseman, who he knows very well. Weber played for Babcock on both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold medal winning teams.
He’s going to be counted on to play a huge role for Canada, and Weber is ready to step up and lead once again.