Now that we know NHLers will be heading to Beijing to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics, sports talk in this country will centre around picking Team Canada.
Keeping in mind the NHL season is active, players are essentially auditioning for a spot, and the predicted rosters will essentially change on a regular basis.
Between now and the team announcement, I will be providing you with his ongoing versions of Team Canada, as well as some players who are doing their best to get GM Doug Armstrong’s attention.
Although there is plenty of hockey left to play before the team announcement is officially made, we figure … why wait!
Teams can dress 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies (plus an extra player at each position).
The season is just over a week old and let’s face facts, that is nowhere near enough hockey for someone to play themselves on or off my team.
However, that’s not to say some players didn’t raise my eyebrows (in a good AND bad way!)
First things first, here is my team as it stands right now.
(Reminder: Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Alex Pietrangelo have officially been named to the team)
WATCH | Rob Pizzo breaks down his updated Team Canada a week into new season:
Left wing: Jonathan Huberdeau, Fla
Became the first Panther to score 500 points.
Centre: Connor McDavid, Edm
Has added a pretty awesome one-timer to his arsenal in the off-season.
Right wing: Nathan Mackinnon, Col
Missed some time because of Covid, but he’s back.
(LW: Brad Marchand, Bos; C: Sidney Crosby; RW: Patrice Bergeron, Bos)
Crosby is still out recovering from off-season wrist surgery, and the Bruins are only two games into the season. I’m still not touching this proven line.
(LW: Mathew Barzal, NYI; C: Brayden Point;, TB, RW: Mark Stone, Vegas)
This is where things get interesting. Mark Stone had to leave the Golden Knights’ game against the Kings with a lower body injury.
It was an innocent looking play, but in the end he needed two teammates to help him to the dressing room. He is listed as day-to-day, but let’s hope for Team Canada’s sake that this is not some sort of lingering injury.
(LW: Ryan O’Reilly, StL; C: Mark Scheifele, Wpg; RW: Mitch Marner, Tor)
Mitch Marner’s early numbers may not show it (1 assist in 4 games), but he is creating a ton of scoring chances. The puck will eventually go in.
On the bubble: Steven Stamkos, TB
(Jakob Chychrun, Ari-Cale Makar, Col; Shea Theodore, Vegas-Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas; Adam Pelech, NYI-Aaron Ekblad, Fla; Morgan Rielly, Tor; On the bubble: Dougie Hamilton, NJ)
- Carey Price, Mtl
- Marc-Andre Fleury, Chi
- Carter Hart, Pha
Raising some eyebrows
1. Steven Stamkos
I had the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Stamkos as my “extra forward” which pretty much means he would be the first drop if a player made some waves.
All he did was finish the first week near the top of the NHL in scoring and already has an OT winner, so he maintains that spot.
2. Drew Doughty
When it comes to the blue-line, people were pretty angry at me a couple weeks ago for not putting Drew Doughty of the LA Kings on the team.
I’m already getting a lot of “I told you so” messages as he put up seven points in his first three games of the season. I’m still not budging on my decision (yet).
When Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price voluntarily entered the player assistance program, hockey was the last thing on anyone’s mind. He will be out for at least 30 days, but until we know more, Price is on the team.
So is Marc-Andre Fleury, even though his start in the windy city has been bumpy at times. Let’s face it, Chicago is not Vegas. He has a whole new team in front of him, so let’s give him some time.
Finally, Philadelphia Flyers’ Carter Hart (despite having one of the early candidates for save of the year) has looked … meh.
I’m going to give him some time as well, but his leash is much shorter than Fleury’s, especially with St. Louis Blues’ Jordan Binnington waiting in the wings.