Orcas at the Olympics
While Vancouver Canucks management bites their nails that none of their stars gets hurt, fans will be able to watch a number of their hometown players in a competition of the world’s best.
Just how many can you expect to see at the Games? I’d venture to say that the definitive number will be five, but likely more (this is on the assumption that there will be no injuries or unforeseen circumstances).
I’d say that in all likelihood, the Canucks will be represented by Roberto Luongo, Ryan Kesler, Alex Edler and Daniel and Henrik Sedin.
Jannik Hansen and Nicklas Jensen will be on the Danish team, should they qualify, and I also think there’s a good chance that Dan Hamhuis could end up on the Canadian squad. I also would consider David Booth having an outside chance to represent USA if (big if!) he has a solid start to the year and stays healthy.
Let’s have a look at the roles they may assume:
Considering Luongo was the starting goalie in the final game for the champions in 2010, I’d say it’s highly likely he’s back wearing the red and white this coming season. I’d imagine along with Lu, Corey Crawford and one of Mike Smith or Carey Price will be there.
Who starts is anyone’s guess and is likely based on how they are playing and the round robin games, but Lu may have first shot.
The defense corps is interesting and there is reason to believe that Dan Hamhuis has a legitimate shot at making the roster. With four virtual locks — Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty — there will be an interesting battle and makeup of the remaining four.
Dan Hamhuis has an outside chance of making the Team Canada roster.
If I had to predict, I would say Alex Pietrangelo will be there, so for argument’s sake, let’s list him as #5. It’s also tough to deny the reigning Norris winner, but have included him in the group of “puck movers” in a battle still.
First, this isn’t an all-star game — the management team will need mobile shutdown defenders, such as Hamhuis. I’d suggest he’ll be in competition with the likes of Marc Methot, Travis Hamonic, Karl Alzner, Jay Bouwmeester, Marc Staal and Marc-Eduard Vlasic.
I like the fact that Hamhuis has played with Weber in the past, and think he has a legitimate chance of making it.
The remaining group comprises puck movers and powerplay guys, such as PK Subban, Mike Green, Kris Letang, Dan Boyle and Dion Phaneuf, who will all be in a battle for those roles.
Depending on which direction management wants to go, they’re likely to select two from one of those two groups of shutdown or puck moving defenders, and one from the other.
I’m fairly confident penciling Kesler in at #2/3 center, since he’s occupied that role before and is a Selke caliber two way center. David Booth has a very outside shot of making it, especially considering Jason Pomminville was snubbed from camp.
However, Booth has the speed to be effective on the big ice and should he have a strong start to the year, he could certainly find himself in the mix for a bottom-6 winger spot.
If I were US management, I would at least consider Chris Higgins for a 4th line shutdown role, but I highly doubt that will happen with the strength of the roster.
The Sedins will be in the top 6 for Sweden and Alex Edler should be in the to 6 on defense as long as he doesn’t completely implode this year under John Tortorella. Sweden should be one of the favourites to win, the only questions being defense and depth at forward.
Team Denmark (should they qualify)
Jannik Hansen will be one of the small, but growing contingent of NHL players from Denmark. Joining him will be former 1st rounder and Canuck hopeful Nicklas Jensen.
With a realistic 7-8 contenders to make their respective Olympic squads, the Vancouver Canucks will surely be represented well in the Sochi Games. There will no doubt be some wagers amongst teammates as to who gets the last laugh, and
I’m definitely hoping that I see some Swedes or Americans sporting their Canadian teammates’ red and whites.
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