The 2014 Winter Olympics will begin early next year in Sochi, Russia.
As always, one of the favorites entering the hockey tournament to win the Gold is Team Canada. With a plethora of superstars at every position, how can they not be the favorites every four years?
Canada is coming off a Gold Medal in 2010 and will look to repeat in 2014. If they want to do so they’ll have to closely evaluate their depth of talent when selecting their roster. They’ll have a bunch of superstars and elite players to choose from, but will that be enough?
You don’t win the tournament by having the most superstars or the most goal scorers in your lineup.
You need role players to round out the bottom half of the roster.
One player that has to be seriously considered to make the Canadian roster is Andrew Ladd. The Winnipeg Jets forward is the exact type of player that every team wants and needs, and will go a long way in helping Canada repeat for Gold.
Ladd would be a perfect fit on the third or fourth line in a role that he’s very familiar with. Canadian Head Coach Mike Babcock should already have a spot reserved for Ladd on the roster.
In 2010, Ladd wasn’t even considered or in the discussions to make Canada’s roster. But a lot has changed in four years. Ladd isn’t the same one-dimensional player he once was. His game has expanded tenfold over the past four years.
Ladd has the experience of a Stanley Cup winning forward. He’s won it twice; the first time as a rookie in 2006 with the Carolina Hurricanes, and the second time in 2010 with the Chicago Blackhawks. Ladd’s role on these two teams was to be a part of the shutdown line as a reliable, backchecking forward. He excelled in that role.
Ever since being traded to the Atlanta Thrashers in 2011, Ladd became a first line forward and developed skills of a superstar. All he’s done since is score goals and rack up points while maintaining the same shutdown presence.
Ladd’s leadership doesn’t go unnoticed in the locker room either. On the ice, Ladd leads by example with his skill and reliable play. But off the ice he knows how to bring a locker room together as he’s done so many times before. He’s the captain of the Jets for a reason.
Even with all these achievements and tangibles, Ladd is still one of the most underrated forwards in the entire NHL. Many people don’t realize that Ladd is a 30 goal scorer (OK, 29, but still) and was close to a point-per-game player in last year’s shortened season.
I’m not even sure how people would react to Ladd making Team Canada, though it should be very positively.
Ladd was invited to Team Canada’s orientation camp which took place August 25-28. Ladd will be competing with many other forwards for a spot on the Canadian roster. With the talent Canada possesses, it’s easy to make a claim for each one of the forwards that were invited.
Ladd isn’t the flashy choice such as a John Tavares, Claude Giroux or even Taylor Hall, but Ladd is a player that you need on your roster to win. Brendan Morrow wasn’t a flashy selection in 2010, but he made a difference.
Ladd is a special player. He’ll bring what many other players won’t—a winning mentality, leadership, reliability and a shutdown backcheck.
How Ladd performs in the upcoming NHL season will probably give the Canadian coaching staff a better idea if they want him on their roster or not (though his abilities should already make him highly considered).
Will Canada automatically lose without Ladd in the lineup? No, and I’m not saying that will happen. But Ladd gives them a much better shot to win if he’s in the lineup.
It’s not the 30 goal seasons that makes Ladd qualified for a spot on Team Canada (that just perfectly rounds out his overall game). It’s the shutdown role that Ladd so very well excelled in when he was hoisting the Stanley Cup… twice. He still excels in that role even though his game expanded.