This week’s edition of My Team Canada features the 7 defensemen who will be making the Canadian Olympic squad come this February. In case you missed it, last week’s article focused on Team Canada’s goaltending needs.
Defense Candidates: Francois Beauchemin, Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Mike Green, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, Scott Niedermayer, Dion Phaneuf, Chris Pronger, Robyn Regehr, Stephane Robidas, Brent Seabrook, Marc Staal, Shea Weber.
Starting Pairings (plus one):
This pairing was pretty much automatic, as both Pronger and Niedermayer have been staples of Team Canada’s blueline for many years now. With both having Cup rings, their veteran and leadership presence will be important on a young team. Let’s just hope Niedermayer wants to play; remember he declined his invite in 2006.
Another pairing that was almost automatic. Weber’s booming shot will be a great asset with the man advantage, and Bouwmeester’s skating is arguably the best in the world. Too bad this tournament isn’t on the big Olympic ice.
The defensive minded Regehr will be paired with Phaneuf to keep him in check, and cover for him when he pinches in for a big hit or play at the blueline. With Regehr being the only true stay-at-home defenseman on Team Canada, he will be relied upon heavily when protecting a lead. Phaneuf on the other hand is polar opposite, and will be let loose when an offensive boost is needed. Phaneuf’s regression this past season is somewhat troublesome, so look for Yzerman & Co to possibly put Mike Green on instead, should Phaneuf have another poor start to the season.
This last spot was a toss up between Boyle and Keith. Keith is the better skater and slightly better defensively, while Boyle brings more offense to the table. On a very young team, especially on the blueline, Boyle’s Cup experience is the reason why he is on this team.
Who didn’t make the cut:
A glaring omission from this team is Mike Green. As mentioned above, the decision will come down to either Phaneuf or Green. Both bring similar games, with Green having more offensive upside, and Phaneuf having the more physical upside. That being said, between all the other D on this team, there will be enough offense to go around that Green can be spared.
Leaving Keith off was a tough one, but his time will eventually come. His Stanley Cup playoff performance was OK, but not amazing (despite him being quite sick), so a few more years and he will be ready.
If broken noses were the only measurement for making this team, Robidas would be the Captain. A warrior on the blueline for Dallas the past couple of years, Robidas isn’t nearly talented enough to make this squad.
A bit too young/raw at the moment.
Almost there, but not quite yet.
Despite playing great in the playoffs, Team Canada can do better.
Good, but not great.
Going into last season, Burns looked like he would make the cut. Unfortunately, a few concussions and playing wing this past season didn’t help his chances. He could MAYBE replace Boyle providing he has a great first half of next season, but it’s doubtful at this point.
As a rule of thumb, no Maple Leafs will be on this team. Sorry Mike Van Ryn fans.
Next week’s article will examine the projected forwards for Team Canada.