Steve Yzerman, the executive director of the Canada men’s hockey team, has an enviable and regrettable task at the same time.
Canada has so much talent to pick from while selecting the team that will attempt to defend the gold medal from Vancouver in 2010 that there are going to be stars left off the roster.
Obviously, this is a preferable problem to having a roster void of talent. It is not without its downside, however. That is because no matter who Yzerman selects, there are going to be some valuable players who don't make the cut. Yzerman will be criticized for some of his selections and snubs, and if Team Canada fails to defend its gold, that is going to leave Yzerman as an obvious scapegoat.
This is something Yzerman seems to know all too well. Regarding the upcoming selection of Canada's team, as quoted by Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, Yzerman said, “Whatever happens, we’re going to leave off some really good players.”
Here are three guys in danger of falling into that category.
Jamie Benn brings a strong sense of physicality that can be invaluable to an all-star roster. He also has a decent scoring touch.
Benn has 13 goals and 22 assists on the year, and he is surging.
His lack of speed could lead to not making the roster, however. On the big ice in Sochi, speed is going to be even more valuable, and this is not where Benn has his biggest value.
Also, although the 24-year-old does have a gold medal from the 2009 World Junior Championships, he lacks Olympic experience.
Prior to the start of this season, Seguin could have been left off of the Canadian roster and barely a soul would have cared.
With the Boston Bruins, he picked up 32 points in 48 regular-season games last season. He was then traded to the Dallas Stars in the offseason, and he has begun to flourish.
The 21-year-old has 39 points in 37 games this season. That includes 20 goals scored, and his 37 points are good enough to have him ninth among all Canadian players in scoring. He is a rising superstar.
Still, Seguin doesn't have the kind of successful big-game experience as others battling for roster spots, and he was far enough off the radar that he wasn't invited to the Olympic orientation camp in August.
I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the committee pass on Seguin this time around.
Marc-Andre Fleury is enjoying a good season. He carries a career-best mark of 2.15 GAA and a save percentage of .920.
Still, memories of Fleury's poor outing in the past two postseasons will be ringing fresh in the minds of the selection committee.
Last postseason, he posted a 3.52 GAA and a .883 save percentage. This was enough for the Pittsburgh Penguins to bench him for Tomas Vokoun.
Given the talent Canada has in goal, this could very well be enough for him to miss out on Sochi.
Canada can choose from the likes of Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price, Roberto Luongo of the Vancouver Canucks, Minnesota Wild's Josh Harding and Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes.
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