By Sie Nicole
Team Canada is regularly referred to as the toughest roster to crack in the world of hockey. The depth of talent coming from Canada makes the competition stiff – consideration alone is an accomplishment within itself.
For this year’s new renovated World Cup of Hockey, however, Team Canada is faced with a unique problem: Team North America, comprised of players under the age of 23 from Canada and the United States. Suddenly, Canada’s accessible talent pool is significantly smaller.
Despite that, Canada’s roster is shaping up into something imposing. The favorites to win the tournament have a stacked roster of all stars. Team Canada is known for offensive power and this year is no different.
These were the practice lines on Monday:
Brad Marchand (Bruins) – Sidney Crosby (Penguins) – Patrice Bergeron (Bruins)
Logan Couture (Sharks) – Jonathan Toews (Blackhawks) – Tyler Seguin (Stars)
John Tavares (Islanders) – Ryan Getzlaf (Ducks) – Steven Stamkos (Lightning)
Matt Duchene (Avalanche) – Claude Giroux (Flyers) – Joe Thornton (Sharks)
Corey Perry (Ducks)
Of course, practice lines get moved around all the time, but if something clicked with those lines, Team Canada is going to be both fun and terrifying on the ice.
Marchand and Bergeron are likely to remain on line together, building off their natural chemistry from the regular season in Boston. Paired with Sidney Crosby, the top line is a fairly solid guarantee that their opponents are going to be spending as little time as possible possessing the puck. Logan Couture slides to the wing on the second line, filling in the roster spot for Jamie Benn, who is recovering from a core muscle surgery. While Tyler Seguin has more experience playing with Benn, it will be interesting to see what he produces with Couture – the 2016 post-season scoring leader – and Toews. Filling it out with players like Giroux and Stamkos, this is a team where the bottom six are equally as tough as the top six.
That’s not to say that there aren’t concerns with the roster.
The biggest of these is that many of the forwards are playing out of position. Only Marchand and Perry are full time wingers, though Seguin played wing during his time with the Bruins. It will take getting used to – but with the talent and experience in the room, it could just as easily be a non issue.
Missing out on the younger talent Canada has to offer is a tough blow, but having to play against a team of younger players isn’t a death sentence for this team. Worries about older players losing their speed are quelled by the experience on this roster. This is an offensive core with plenty of experience in tournaments like this, which Team North America lacks. That could make a major difference.
Sidney Crosby was named the team’s captain, with Jonathan Toews and defenseman Shea Weber as alternates. Crosby captained Team Canada at the 2015 IIHF Worlds Tournament and the 2014 Sochi Olympics, leading both teams to gold medal victories. Teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are also former IIHF Worlds Team Canada captains, in 2012 and 2016, respectively. Ten of the thirteen forwards have worn a letter for their current club.
No matter what, Team Canada’s offense is going to be exciting.
Team Canada makes its debut in a pre-tournament game against Team USA at 7 pm EST on Friday September 9th at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.