Canada will begin their quest to become the 2010 IIHF World Champions Saturday May 8, 2010 against Italy. The General Manager, Mark Messier, has already begun to choose his roster with as many as 15 players confirmed to play in the tournament.
Mark Messier and his management staff of Doug Risebrough (former Minnesota Wild General Manager), Michel Goulet (former Director of Player Personnel for the Colorado Avalanche) and his father Doug Messier along with his coaching staff of Head Coach Craig MacTavish (former Edmonton Oilers Head Coach) and assistants Peter DeBoer (current Florida Panthers Head Coach) and Billy Moores (current Edmonton Oilers Pro Scout) have decided on up to 15 players to represent Canada at the tournament.
Here's a look at the confirmed Team Canada roster thus far according to TSN.ca
The forwards are Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning), John Tavares (New York Islanders), Corey Perry (Anahiem Ducks), Rene Bourque (Calgary Flames), Ray Whitney (Carolina Hurricanes), Steve Ott (Dallas Stars), Steve Downie (Tampa Bay Lightning), Rich Peverley (Atlanta Thrashers), and possible alternate Jordan Eberle (Edmonton Oilers).
The defensemen are Francois Beauchemin (Toronto Maple Leafs), Marc Staal (New York Rangers), Brent Burns (Minnesota Wild), and Mark Giordano (Calgary Flames).
The only confirmed goaltender at this point is Chris Mason (St. Louis Blues).
It has been previously confirmed that Tampa Bay's 35 year old Martin St. Louis has turned down the chance to play for his country at this tournament.
Thus far, this appears to be a young roster with only three of the 15 players confirmed being over the age of 30. Look for the rest of the team to be named after the first round of the playoffs is completed.
However, do not expect to see any players named that won gold for Canada at this years Winter Olympics. Those players earned their rest this summer through their winning efforts in February.
Possible players to be named to the team after the first round of the 2010 NHL playoffs
These would be my choices from each team currently in the playoffs:
Washington vs Montreal
Don't be surprised to see Mike Green added to the roster if the Captials do not make it through the first round. No doubt his snub from the Olympics is still fresh in his mind, but this may be his chance to show his stuff on an International stage.
From the Canadien's a quality puck moving defenseman could be had in the underrated Marc-Andre Bergeron. He would become a valuable piece to Canada's power play if he attends the tournament.
New Jersey Devils vs Philadelphia Flyers
From the Devils I would select Travis Zajac as he is versatile and effective at both ends of the ice. He would fit well into the team concept needed at these tournaments to be successful.
In looking at the Flyers roster, I would have to give the nod to Jeff Carter. He nearly made the Olympic Team and he would play a major role in the quest for a Gold at the World Championship.
Buffalo Sabres vs Boston Bruins
Tyler Myers is my first and only choice from the Sabres. He is huge and skilled, and he skates like the wind. He will become a mainstay for Canada on the back end in the future. I simply love to watch this kid play hockey. Take Zedeno Chara and Scott Neidermeyer and mold them together and you have Tyler Meyers, simply spectacular.
From Boston, I would say Milan Lucic would get the call if healthy. He may not be quite the scoring threat that he was last season, but he would fill an effective third or fourth line role for Canada as a grinder that can score some key goals.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs Ottawa Senators
Jordan Staal would be selected from the Penguins. While he is currently one of the better defensive forwards in the NHL, I still see some offensive upside in his game. A starring role at the World's may be just what he needs to step out from behind Crosby's and Malkin's shadows.
From Ottawa, I am assuming that Jason Spezza would likely decline. In that case, I would select defenseman Chris Philips, who would provide a solid veteran presence on the back end.
San Jose Sharks vs Colorado Avalanche
From San Jose, none of the big three would go as they were at the Olympics (Heatley, Thorton, Marleau). The most attractive name to me would be Ryan Clowe. He could be an effective second or third line power forward for Canada.
The only name I want from Colorado is Matt Duchene. The Avalanche were hoping for the second coming of Joe Sakic when they drafted this kid, and it appears the hockey gods may have granted their wish.
Chicago Blackhawks vs Nashville Predators
From Chicago, I would bring Patrick Sharp along with the team. He could fill a top six scoring role on a young Canadian team. More and more I associate Sharp with a younger version of Shane Doan.
I would add goaltender Dan Ellis to the Canadian roster. He has been effective the past few seasons and has played second fiddle to Pekka Rinne this season. While he is not a goaltender that will steal wins for your team he will not lose them for you.
Vancouver Canucks vs Los Angeles Kings
After his breakout 25 goal season, I would bring Mason Raymond from the Canucks. He has blinding speed that would be very valuable on the larger ice surfaces.
Wayne Simmonds would be my selection from the Kings. He is a good skater and could effectively fill a checking role on Team Canada at this tournament.
Phoenix Coyotes vs Detroit Red Wings
For more experience and leadership, I would bring Mr. Canada, Shane Doan. This would be a very young core group of forwards, and a character veteran who can contribute on the score sheet would be much needed. Also, if he attends I would be shocked to not see the captain's "C" on his jersey.
From the Red Wings, I would ask Darren Helm to be a member of Team Canada. He is a versatile player that can line up at center or on either wing. He is also very good defensively and is a tremendous skater. He should take over Kris Draper's role in Detroit very nicely.
Rounding out the goaltending position
Based on my selections, Chris Mason and Dan Ellis are the current goaltenders for Team Canada. I would not be surprised to see Marty Turco make a bid to become the third goaltender for team Canada. Currently there is not a great deal of demand for the pending free agent goaltender. A strong showing at the World Championship could show that he still has some good hockey left in his 35 year old body.
Does Canada have a chance at gold with this lineup?
While it would be a young roster, it would not be lacking firepower nor defensive responsibility. The weakest link in this Canadian team would be the goaltending. But as the Olympics showed, your goaltender need not steal the show in order to win a Gold Medal. Also, in an Olympic year do not expect many of the Olyimpians to attend the World Championship. This is a year in which Canada's depth in talent will really show. I am predicting a Gold Medal for Canada at this year's World's.
Which players currently playing in the first round of the 2010 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs would you choose to bring to the World Championship's as a member of Team Canada?