After the sting of the 2006 Olympics, there will likely be a bigger shift from aging veterans to the youth of the today. A healthy mix of experienced veterans and younger stars is likely to make a winning combo come February.
The following is my take on this years Canadian Olympic squad (letters in brackets represent captaincy).
Martin Brodeur : Brodeur owns just about every record a goalie can win, and has won just about everything their is to win, including Olympic gold. At 37, Marty is no spring chicken, but he can still play at a very high calibre and is likely to lead Canada once again.
Roberto Luongo : Luongo is the goalie of the future for Canada and will likely be the starter next Olympic games. Luongo has won gold at several international events, and will be likely be Marty's understudy this year.
Marc-Andre Fleury : Fleury is likely the odd man out, but he will probably be playing in the 2014 Olympics, so any experienced earned here would be very beneficial.
Shea Weber : Weber is one of the best defenceman in the game today. He can play a very physical game but also has huge offensive upside. Weber can play in every aspect of the game and could find himself in the top pairing.
Chris Pronger : Pronger may be one of the most feared players in the league today. Pronger is a heavy hitter and has a heavy shot. In his career, he has won the Norris, Hart, Stanley Cup, and Olympic gold. Pronger is a shoo-in this year.
Scott Niedermayer (A) : Niedermayer may not play at the same level as he did in his prime, but he can still play very well. Niedermayer would be a good candidate for captain as he is a natural leader. He is a very accomplished player and most importantly very experienced.
Dan Boyle : Boyle is one of the best offensive defencemen in the game today. Boyle has a good shot and makes solid breakout passes. He may not have very much international experience, but he has won a Stanley Cup and is likely hungry for gold.
Duncan Keith : Keith is a shut down defender plain and simple. He is as steady as they come and is likely the future anchor of the Canadian defence for years to come.
Drew Doughty : Doughty will be the youngest defenceman on the team, in just his second year in the league he has already asserted himself as the best blueliner on the Los Angeles Kings squad. Doughty is solid at both ends of the ice, and could really benefit with some ice time at the Olympics.
Mike Green : Green is the best offensive defencemen in the NHL today but is a rather large liability in his own end, which means he will be only used in certain situations, and will likely not see as much ice time as the others.
Sidney Crosby (A): It's not likely Sidney will be on the taxi squad once again. Crosby is likely going to be relied heavily upon to bring his offensive talent to the Canadian squad. Some feel he could be the captain, but he will most likely end up as an assistant.
Jarome Iginla (C): Iginla is a true leader and the most well-rounded player on the Canadian squad. Iginla does everything under the sun, and does it better then most. Iginla is the obvious choice for captain but stranger things have happened.
Rick Nash : Nash is your prototypical power forward. He has lots of talent, surprising speed, quick hands, and he can run right through you.
Ryan Getzlaf : Getzlaf is another tough customer who can do it all. He has come into this year in a more of a set up role, but is performing admirably. A line of Getzlaf, Iginla, and Nash would be a force to reckon with.
Joe Thornton : Thornton leads the league in points, and is on pace for over 100 on the year. With the acquisition of Heatley over the offseason Thornton has been impressive.
Dany Heatley : Heatley did no favours for himself this offseason with his attitude regarding Ottawa, but his play speaks for itself. An all San Jose line could be very dangerous.
Patrick Marleau : Stripping Marleau of the "C" was probably the best thing for him, as he is performing very well. Marleau is a rather up and down player, but at the moment he is hot.
Corey Perry : Perry really burst onto the scene last season with the Ducks. The prolific scorer is very talented and chippy to boot. Many find him to be a dirty player, but every team needs that edge.
Steven Stamkos : While Stamkos finds himself in a bit of a slump the sophomore center has really picked up his play from last season, and will find a spot on this team.
Vincent Lecavalier : Lecavalier got off to a slow start, but has bounced back, and play rather well as of late. Lecavalier is a main stay on the Canadian roster, and will light the lamp in Van City.
Brad Richards : Richards is a bit of an underdog story this year. No one would have had him on their radar based on last years play, but this season he is turning the tables with the Stars and has earned his spot.
Martin St. Louis : St. Louis is a speedy skilled winger who has great hockey sense, and good heart and hustle. With Lightning teammates he could really take off.
Mike Fisher : Mike has nearly surpassed last years totals already, and has really stepped up for the Senators. Fisher is a versatile player who can play very well at special teams. Canada would do well to have him on as a 13th forward.
Potential line combinations
Nash - Crosby - Iginla
Marleau - Thornton - Heatley (San Jose line)
Richards - Getzlaf - Perry (Anaheim line)
Stamkos - Lecavalier - St. Louis (Tampa Bay line)
Fisher (special teams)
Weber - Boyle
Pronger - Niedermayer (former Anaheim connection)
Keith - Doughty
Green (special teams)
Image Courtesy Hockey Canada