EDITOR’S NOTE: We filmed a podcast on February 5 discussing potential line combinations. Not even a half hour after we’d finished filming, news broke that Team Canada center Steven Stamkos’ Olympic hopes didn’t have a leg to stand on. (That one never gets old.) So, despite our best attempts, we had to scratch the podcast. New one coming shortly.
In the interim, we had hoped to get the following blog up, discussing potential replacement candidates for the sniper. Hockey Canada, meanwhile, decided that it would do the exact opposite of its roster unveiling and waste no time in announcing a replacement.
But you know what? Hockey Canada clearly doesn’t want our opinions to be heard. THIS IS A CONSPIRACY AND WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED. Or maybe this is just a symptom of horrible timing. Either way, enjoy:
With the announcement of Stamkos being unable to play in the Sochi Olympics lingering on our minds like a gloomy hangover, we’ve decided to each pick a logical player to replace the elite scorer as well as a wild card.
Rory: Claude Giroux
With a solid lineup down the middle from the likes of Crosby, Toews, Tavares and Getzlaf it’s no surprise that Team Canada is in the market for a player that can play the wing. Assuming Stamkos would be playing right wing to Crosby, it’s hard to overlook Giroux as his replacement.
With 55 points this season, nine of those in the past five games, (one point ahead of St. Louis at 54, 12 ahead of Neal at 43) the right-handed elite scorer should have no problem fitting in with the Olympic squad. Giroux’s offensive prowess combined with his hand-eye coordination, confidence and ability to move the puck make him a perfect fit.
As this is all speculation I can’t help but look at Giroux’s playing experience with the rest of Team Canada’s players. He hasn’t played a single NHL game with anyone from the squad and has minor international experience from his time in the world juniors in 2008, where he played with Doughty, Subban, and Tavares. In the 2013 IIHF World Cup Championship he played alongside Duchene, Hamhuis and Subban. There’s little fact to how he’d bode with Sochi group but one can’t help but wonder the possibilities.
Wild card – Taylor Hall
Taylor Hall is constantly overlooked due to his NHL resume with the Edmonton Oilers. As a player who has never seen the playoffs it’s easy to assume an Olympic spot would be out of the question. Despite playing for a bottom feeding club the power-forward continues to produce with 19 goals and 35 assists this season. His explosive style, drive to finish the play at any cost and ability to control the puck with his size effortlessly ,I could see Hall being paired with Getzlaf and Perry to make for an electric third line. Again, wild card.
Patrick: Joe Thornton
I’ve been touting Thornton’s deserving spot on the roster since its initial announcement. My tune hasn’t changed. Thornton was, until recently, the league’s leader in assists. He has as many or more assists (48) than Matt Duchene, Jeff Carter, Patrice Bergeron, and Canada’s entire defensive corps have points.
Thornton has another thing going for him, too: Olympic experience. He was on two prior teams: the disappointing 2006 Torino team that finished medal-less, and the gold-medal-winning squad in Vancouver in 2010. He also benefits from having two teammates on this year’s incarnation: Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Patrick Marleau.
Canada already has insane depth at center and quite a few excellent playmakers, but those seem to be weak arguments at best. The team is looking to replace Steven Stamkos — who is also a centerman and a fantastic set-up man, himself — and when a player of his caliber goes down, you have to take the best player available.
Frankly, I’m still shocked that Thornton has flown so far below the radar as far as the Olympic Watch is concerned. He’s put up some great numbers and had a very successful season so far in San Jose. And if he scores four goals on an Olympic ice surface, imagine the celebration that would ensue.
Wild card – John Scott
Oh, we’re talking about players we’d send to Sochi TO PLAY HOCKEY. My mistake.
REAL wild card – Clarke MacArthur
What? No, my local bias isn’t showing. Why do you ask?
Okay. This pick may be a result of too much exposure to the Senators. As far as all-around players go, MacArthur is one of those guys who’s not great at anything, but is good at everything. He’s an all-around good guy. This team doesn’t need a ton of offence. It already has that in spades. It doesn’t need a ton of defence – it already has three more-or-less stay-at-home defencemen in Jay Bouwmeester, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Dan Hamhuis. So why not bring in someone who can pitch in everywhere and anywhere?
Steven: Martin St. Louis
Canada and the hockey world were shocked yesterday when Tampa Bay Lightning forward announced that he would be pulling out of the running to go over to Sochi and represent his country. I think this was a hard decision to make for Stamkos himself and Steven Yzerman who not only wants to compete on an international stage but also wants his team, the Tampa Bay Lighting, to go far in the playoffs. Stevie Y doesn’t have to look far for a replacement, maybe across his dressing room.
A prolific playmaker and scorer, I could see St-Louis on the top line with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby. He brings a wealth of skills and experience to the team to the international stage. A Maurice “Rocket” Richard trophy winner last season and already has 54 points in 56 games. Stamkos’ exit from the roster is a major loss to Team Canada but there’s no doubt in my mind that St-Louis is just what the doctor ordered.
Wild card: Andrew Ladd: A two-time Stanley Cup champion, Ladd has everything that a general manager would and coach would want on a team. He works his tail off game in and game out. He has a no quit attitude and his leadership skills on and off the ice are irreplaceable. Not known to be a high scorer, Ladd has 40 points in 58 games thus far in the season. A potential fourth line shutdown winger, Ladd is my wild card pick for Team Canada.