Of any national hockey federations, Hockey Canada has some of the toughest decisions to make this week. They, like all of those governing bodies, will have to finish naming their World Cup roster by May 27. For them, that means adding four forwards and three defensemen to the group previously announced.
Every team’s final roster spots work out a little differently, but the decision to name all three goaltenders off the bat was a great move by general manager Doug Armstrong, giving him more flexibility to find the right pieces in the positions where the team has the most depth.
Team Canada’s Projected Final Roster Spots
There’s a very deep group of fringe players for Canada, requiring the final selection to include a snub or two. The decision rely heavily on who has shown the most recently and what extra assets these guys bring to the roles that they’ll likely be assigned.
Thornton has been incredible in the postseason and would have been in the discussion before. At this point, how do you keep him off? Additionally, he offers flexibility. He can play wing or center, and brings a physical game that isn’t necessarily flush for Canada.
That’s a theme here. All of these guys can score, but are also capable of playing a role down the lineup and bringing physicality to the fore. The physical aspect isn’t the most important part of any team construction, and its importance is further diminished in best-on-best play, but, in these players, Armstrong & Co. have the ability to not sacrifice talent while bringing a more versatile game that gives the coaching staff options.
Within the politics of the thing, Perry, Marchand and O’Reilly all answered the bell and joined Team Canada for another gold medal run at the World Championship. That gave Hockey Canada brass another look at them, and all played well. O’Reilly, in particular, showed that he can provide offense while functioning as a shutdown center, something he excelled at against the Aleksander Barkov and Patrik Laine line in the gold medal game against Finland.
Perry should also benefit from the possibility of instant chemistry with Ryan Getzlaf. It can be tough to get lines to gel quickly in international play, so the chance of putting two guys together who are known to have chemistry is appealing.
That leaves out some very good players. Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Brendan Gallagher, Logan Couture and Matt Duchene would top the list outside of those four.
This group has changed a fair amount since the fall. Letang has shown this season that he’s still among the best defenders in the NHL. Burns, on the other hand, has stepped up and shown that he belongs in that discussion, where he may have been on the outside previously. He’s put up incredible shot numbers and broken many franchise records in the regular and postseason.
Burns and Letang give the Canadian defense serious offensive weapons from the blue line. They’ve had good, smart defensemen in the past, but this side of under-using P.K. Subban, they haven’t had an Erik Karlsson-type on the international stage. These two give them big weapons and a diverse skill set.
Brent Burns (SJ): leads all DMen with 18 points this postseason–highest PPG by D in a single postseason over the last 20 years (min. 15 GP)
— Bucci Mane (@Buccigross) May 21, 2016
The two biggest misses here might be P.K. Subban and Jay Bouwmeester. Subban’s exclusion may be at the expense of a season where his production didn’t match how well he was playing and that Burns offers a similar skill set.
Mark Giordano and Brent Seabrook would be notable exclusions as well.
Team Canada World Cup Roster Projection
(projected additions in italics)
Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks
Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Ryan O’Reilly, Buffalo Sabres
Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.