Following the United States announcement of their 2018 Olympic Roster, Canada has now named their 25-man roster for the Games in PyeongChang. The team isn’t quite as talented as it could have been had the NHL participated in the tournament, though the same could be said about every other country in the tournament. The roster, though, still features multiple former-NHL players that are excited for the chance to play at hockey’s highest level.
25 @HC_Men on the roster. 36 million on the team. ??????
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) January 11, 2018
Canada is coming off consecutive gold medal victories in Olympics Men’s Hockey from the 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada and 2014 in Sochi — Russia as well as three gold medals in four years with a win in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2002. The task will be taller this year with such a distinct drop off in talent, but the expectation of a weaker roster was known for months and for those chosen to select Canada, the honor means the same all the same.
Chris Kelly, Rene Bourque, Gilbert Brule, Andrew Ebbett, Quinton Howden, Rob Klinkhammer, Brandon Kozun, Maxim Lapierre, Eric O’Dell, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy, Christian Thomas, Linden Vey, Wojtek Wolski
Representing Canada at the Olympics will be a string of former-NHL players who have had varying levels of success. From playing in a few games to winning the Stanley Cup, the team is packed with players who have experienced the game in different ways.
Chris Kelly was originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the third-round of the NHL Entry Draft in 1999 and remained with the team until the 2011 trade deadline when he was sent to the Boston Bruins for their long playoff run that resulted in a Stanley Cup victory over the Vancouver Canucks. His new Olympics teammates in Mason Raymond and Maxim Lapierre were members of the Canucks at the time, so their memory of that Final may not as be quite as positive as Kelly’s.
The 36-year-old Rene Bourque went undrafted before making his debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2005. Proving that being drafted doesn’t mean everything, Bourque scored over 20-goals in three consecutive seasons during his time with the Calgary Flames. With 163 goals and 316 points in 725 NHL games, Bourque had a successful NHL run despite scouts not deeming him worthwhile of a draft spot.
Rob Klinkhammer and Andrew Ebbett are more examples of players who went undrafted but who still spent time in the NHL. Klinkhammer played in 193 games in the league with the Ottawa Senators, Arizona Coyotes, Pittsburgh Penguins and Ottawa Senators. Ebbett, on the other hand, played in 224 games split between the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, Arizona Coyotes, Vancouver Canucks and Pittsburgh Penguins before eventually joining Bern SC of the Swiss-A league.
First Round Forwards on Canada’s Roster
Canada will feature some top-round talents at the tournament in PyeongChang, South Korea, including Wojtek Wolski, Quinton Howden and Gilbert Brule who were all taken in the first-round of the NHL Entry Draft. Wolski was originally born in Poland but moved to Canada from a young age and was taken in the first-round by the Colorado Avalanche. He went on to play in 451 NHL games in the NHL before joining the KHL where he’s played since 2013. He suffered a very significant neck injury which he worked hard to recover from as he now prepares to join Canada’s roster.
Brule played in 299 games in the NHL after being selected with the sixth-overall pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets. He’s since found success in the KHL as many other former-NHL players have done, many of whom have spots on this roster.
Included in that list are Linden Vey (who was a fourth-round pick in 2009 and is currently experiencing success in the KHL with 17 goals and 52 points in 49 games with Astana Barys) and Brandon Kozun (a sixth-round pick in 2009 who has played in three KHL seasons following his 20 games in the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs) as well as multiple other players on the roster.
Howden was a first-round pick a little more recently than Wolski and Brule, selected 25th overall by the Florida Panthers in 2010. He would only play in a total of 97 NHL games, scoring 10 goals and 17 points, before joining the KHL this season. He’s scored 15 goals and 29 points in Russia with the Minsk Dynamo to date.
Second-Round Forwards on Canada’s Roster
Looking past the first round, Canada’s roster also features Derek Roy, Eric O’Dell and Christian Thomas. The former experienced the most success in the NHL having played in 738 games in the league with the Buffalo Sabres, Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and Edmonton Oilers before leaving the league to play overseasons in Switzerland, Russia and Sweden. The latter two players have combined for only 68 games in the league with Thomas still playing in the AHL and O’Dell playing for Sochi HC in the KHL.
Stefan Elliott, Chay Genoway, Cody Goloubef, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Chris Lee, Maxim Noreau, Mat Robinson, Karl Stollery
Canada’s defense doesn’t feature the same level of talent that the forward group does in terms of NHL Draft status, but as mentioned, draft status doesn’t mean everything. Chay Genoway, Karl Stollery, Mat Robinson, Maxim Noreau and Chris Lee all went undrafted. Stollery, Noreau and Genoway combined for 30 games in the NHL while Lee garnered some NHL attention this past offseason before rejoining the KHL.
Stefan Elliott and Cody Goloubef were both taken in the second-round of the NHL Entry Draft with Elliott taken in 2009 and Goloubef taken in 2008. The two combined for 213 games in the NHL with Goloubef still playing in the AHL with the Stockton Heat and Elliott playing overseason in the KHL and in Sweden since leaving the NHL.
Both will get a chance to showcase their abilities to try and entice an NHL roster to take a chance on them in the future. Marc-Andre Gragnani was taken in the third-round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and went on to play in only 78 NHL games while also playing in the KHL and Swiss-A league in between his NHL run and following it as well.
Justin Peters, Kevin Poulin, Ben Scrivens
Canada’s crease will be manned by Justin Peters, Ben Scrivens and Kevin Poulin. All three spent time in the NHL with Peters being a second-round pick in 2004 and Poulin being a fifth-round pick in 2008. The two netminders combined for only 133 games at the NHL level, however, with neither man ever starting over 28 games in a season.
Scrivens went undrafted but undoubtedly saw the most successful career of the three in the NHL. Starting his time in the league with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Scrivens was eventually traded to the Los Angeles Kings in the deal that saw Jonathan Bernier shipped to Toronto. Scrivens would play so well in Los Angeles that the Oilers acquired him and tried to transition him from a backup into their new starting goalie. The experiment didn’t go quite as planned and Scrivens ended up playing his last 15 NHL games in a Montreal Canadiens uniform in 2016 before signing in the KHL.