The World Championships are over and Canada has won gold for a second straight season.
This year’s Worlds were considered the final tryout for players like Taylor Hall, Brad Marchand, Matt Duchene and Corey Perry, who were all vying for spots on Canada’s roster at the upcoming World Cup in Toronto.
While the likes of Brent Burns, Joe Thornton, Kris Letang and Alex Pietrangelo have been doing their auditions in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Everyone on the shortlist for Team Canada appears to be playing the best hockey of their lives and that only makes life more difficult for GM Doug Armstrong and the rest of the Team Canada management.
There is a lot to consider, so with this part, I’m going to start by looking at the forwards and who I think Team Canada should be adding to their World Cup roster at the end of the month.
Corey Perry, Taylor Hall, Joe Thornton, Brad Marchand, Milan Lucic, Claude Giroux, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Wayne Simmonds and Brendan Gallagher are the forwards who are believed to be the finalists for the last 4 forward spots on the team.
There is really only one lock out of this list, Corey Perry should absolutely be on this team. His second half numbers were very good. 38 points after January 1st was 10th amongst Canadians.
However what impressed me even more with Perry was his willingness to go straight to Russia following a disappointing playoffs. This is a guy who is uber competitive and wears the Canadian colours with a tonne of pride.
The leadership role his took this year in Russia has also apparently left a good feeling amongst the Canadian brass.
Perry should by all accounts be a lock on this team.
Joe Thornton is a very interesting name. He’s tearing apart the NHL playoffs right now and if we looked at play alone then he would be a lock on this roster.
But Jumbo Joe is getting up there in age, he turns 37 in July, and after a deep run with the Sharks, he may want more time to recover and be prepared for the upcoming season. So is it a possibility that he takes on the role of the extra forward? Or could there be a “behind closed doors” decision to “cut” Joe Thornton in favour of a younger player, if you know what I mean.
There are also names like Simmonds, Stone, Gallagher, Lucic and O’Reilly. All of them are good players, but haven’t had good enough seasons or don’t play the right style to be considered for a best on best tournament.
After taking a look at the above list of players this is the lineup I put together:
I took Perry, Giroux, Hall and Marchand as you can see above.
Perry was a lock, and Giroux was pretty much a lock. He’s one of the most consistent point producers from the last 5 years and hasn’t gotten nearly enough respect from Team Canada is past events. They should make it up to him this year, he’s deserved it.
The Taylor Hall vs Brad Marchand debate has been all the rage lately on the internet. But why not take both? Joe Thornton will not be heartbroken if he misses the tournament, I can almost guarantee that, so send a couple of relatively young players who will really make the most of this opportunity.
Hall was an easy choice just based on the fact the only Canadian LW who has more points than him in the past 3 years is Jamie Benn. Marchand was also on fire this year putting up a career high 60 points during the regular season.
Both these players went to Russia this year and did an incredible job with the maple leaf on their chest. Hall finished with 6 goals and 3 assists in the 10 games, while Marchand put up 4-3-7 during the tournament. They earned it not only with their play during the regular season, but through their commitment to the Hockey Canada program.
That’s something I want to see Hockey Canada continue to put an emphasis on, take players who are hungry to be there and want that opportunity to win gold. I’m not saying that there are some NHL players who aren’t competitive and don’t want to win, but there will certainly be some going into the World Cup thinking more about the upcoming season and focusing on not getting injured or fatigued.
Disagree with any of my selections? All of them? Let me know over at @belowtheice on Twitter or in the comments below.