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Bubble Watch for Team Canada's 2014 Winter Olympic Hockey Roster

Jonathan WillisNHL National ColumnistDecember 23, 2016

Bubble Watch for Team Canada's 2014 Winter Olympic Hockey Roster

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    Alex Livesey/Getty Images

    Team USA announced its roster last week, and there was no shortage of snubs or surprises. It's likely to be the same when Team Canada is announced on Tuesday, because while core members of the team like Sidney Crosby or Jonathan Toews are uncontroversial, there has been heated debate over those players on the bubble. 

    The following list shows the players we expect to to be named to the roster, along with those likely to fall outside. 

     

    Unless otherwise noted, statistics are courtesy of Hockey-Reference.com, HockeyAnalysis.com or NHL.com and are current through January 3.

Marc Staal, New York Rangers

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    Scott Audette/Getty Images

    Stats line: 31GP, 2G, 1A, 3PTS, minus-seven

    The skinny: Marc Staal is big, aggressive, and despite poor totals this season, he has a nice offensive toolkit. He's in the mix on a weaker Canadian left-side defence but his uneven performance this season probably drops him down the depth chart. 

    Projected outcome: misses the team

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Stats line: 43GP, 5G, 24A, 29PTS, plus-19

    The skinny: Brent Seabrook has long experience playing on the right side of Duncan Keith, a lock for the team, and brings a well-rounded skill set in his own right.

    The trouble for him is two-fold. First, Canada is loaded to the gills with right-handed shots. Second, Keith has actually performed better over the last five seasons when he's been paired with other players, while Seabrook has declined significantly when separated from his partner.

    On his own merit it's difficult to put him in the top four of right-shooting Canadian defencemen.  

    Projected outcome: misses the team

Chris Kunitz, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Stats line: 42GP, 21G, 22A, 43PTS, plus-21 

    The skinny: The case for is that Chris Kunitz has great numbers and chemistry with Sidney Crosby. The case against is that it's very fair to wonder if he'd even be in the conversation if it weren't for playing on the wing of the best player in the world.

    Prior to last season, Kunitz had topped 60 points just once in his NHL career (a 61-point season in 2011-12). He's 34, so that makes it hard to believe its a sudden progression on Kunitz's part.

    The question for Canada is that if Kunitz is really a 50- to 60-point player, what could Crosby do with a more talented winger? 

    Projected outcome: misses the team

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

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    Glenn James/Getty Images

    Stats line: 40GP, 14G, 22A, 36PTS, plus-four

    The skinny: Jamie Benn's two-way game just keeps getting better, and his tenacity in traffic and in battling for the puck distinguish him from the rest of the pack. Despite his relative youth, he's a leader in Dallas and has international experience both in Germany during the lockout and at the World Championships. 

    Projected outcome: misses the team

Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks

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    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    Stats line: 34GP, 7G, 12A, 19PTS, minus-one

    The skinny: The 37-year-old Dan Boyle brings a wealth of experience to the conversation, and he put up six points and a plus-five rating for Canada at the last Olympics. He has elite-level vision and puck-moving skill, but his speed seems to have dropped a little with age and he plays on Canada's strong side. 

    Projected outcome: final defenceman cut

Matt Duchene, Colorado Avalanche

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    Stats line: 37GP, 16G, 21A, 37PTS, plus-seven 

    The skinny: Matt Duchene is scoring at a point-per-game pace for Colorado, playing left wing, which is Canada's weakest forward position. Most importantly, he is an elite skater, one of the best in the game and a guy who is difficult to ignore for a team that will play on Olympic ice.    

    Projected outcome: final forward cut

Dan Hamhuis, Vancouver Canucks

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    Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images

    Stats line: 42GP, 4G, 9A, 13PTS, plus-12

    The skinny: Dan Hamhuis is one of the game's best defensive defenceman, possessed of an aggressive physical game, strong positional play and the mobility to track with the best forwards in the NHL.

    Add in his puck-moving abilities, a weaker left-shooting group of Canadian defencemen and the way he complements a group of right-handed shooters more geared to offence and he clearly deserves serious consideration.

    Projected outcome: eighth defenceman 

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

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    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Stats line: 41GP, 10G, 14A, 24PTS, plus-16

    The skinny: Patrice Bergeron seems to be in a little bit of trouble, thanks to underwhelming scoring totals this season and a middling showing at the 2010 games, but it's likely his versatility and the fact that he is one of if not the best pure defensive forwards in the NHL will earn him a place as a spare on the roster.  

    Projected outcome: spare forward

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

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    S. Levin/Getty Images

    Stats line: 40GP, 17G, 21A, 38PTS, plus-12

    The skinny: Martin St. Louis brings a lot to the table. He led the NHL in scoring last season, is both a fast and agile skater and has experience in Europe and representing Canada at the international stage (he put up 15 points in nine games at the 2009 World Championships). The veteran of over 1,000 NHL games still belongs on the roster on merit. 

    Projected outcome: spare forward 

Patrick Sharp, Chicago Blackhawks

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    Bill Smith/Getty Images

    Stats line: 42GP, 22G, 20A, 42PTS, plus-18

    The skinny: Patrick Sharp brings a lot of scoring as well as history with Jonathan Toews, but more importantly, he brings a pair of skills Team Canada needs.

    First, he's a good skater, which will be vital in Sochi, and second, he's an extremely competent two-way player on a team that will be geared primarily to offence. 

    Projected outcome: fourth-line left wing 

Rick Nash, New York Rangers

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Stats line: 24GP, 7G, 9A, 16PTS, minus-two

    The skinny: Rick Nash has a long history of representing Canada internationally with distinction, both at the World Championships and at the 2010 Olympics (he was less stellar in 2006, where he picked up a lone assist and went minus-two). He's also a big goal scorer who can play right or left wing.

    A middling performance coming off injury means it wouldn't be a shock if Nash missed the cut, but it seems likely he squeaks on to the team.  

    Projected outcome: fourth-line right wing

Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks

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    Noah Graham/Getty Images

    Stats line: 41GP, 4G, 11A, 15PTS, plus-12

    The skinny: Marc-Edouard Vlasic doesn't have shiny offensive numbers, despite scoring more than a point per game in juniors and posting big numbers earlier in his NHL career. Instead, the 26-year-old is a highly capable shutdown defender.

    Projected outcome: third-pairing left-side defenceman 

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