Throughout the history of the NHL, championship teams have been built in different ways, from the slick and skilled Montreal Canadiens to the Broad Street Bullies in the 1970s, from the offensive-juggernaut Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s to the defensively-stifling New Jersey Devils of the '90s.
There are different philosophies on team building, but some standard rules to which every team realizes they need to be the best—toughness, goaltending, depth in scoring, etc.
Let's try building the best team we can using sequential jersey numbers. I'll attempt to ensure the main ingredients of a team are achieved, but I'll be handicapped by being required to have jersey numbers 1 through 19. (Because goaltenders primarily wear No. 1 and usually anything higher than No. 20, there will of course be one player outside the No.19 parameter.)
Sweater numbers will be the same as last season. Players will only be selected to be slotted into their natural position. NHL.com will be used as the source.
Of course, players like Crosby, Malkin and Zetterberg are instantly excluded from the list. A roster of two goaltenders, 12 forwards (four at each forward position) and six defensemen will be selected.
1. Roberto Luongo (Canucks): Not just the best goalie wearing No. 1, arguably the best goaltender, period.
30. Henrik Lundqvist (Rangers): His age gives him the nod over Brodeur, who wears the same number.
2. Duncan Keith (Blackhawks): Great skater and a good passer.
3. Dion Phaneuf (Flames): A tower of strength on defense. He's the total package.
5. Nicklas Lidstrom (Red Wings): The world's best defenseman.
6. Shea Weber (Nashville): A pure shut-down man.
7. Brent Seabrook (Blackhawks): See above description. Also, both Seabrook and Weber add right-handed shots.
15*. Tomas Kaberle (Maple Leafs): World-class passer, and a quality power-play quarterback.
8. Alexander Ovechkin (Capitals): Hart Trophy, Art Ross, Rocket Richard—enough said
9. Zach Parise (Devils): Small, fast, tenacious, and skilled. Can play on any forward line.
14. Alexander Burrows (Canucks): Every team needs an agitator, and he is one of the league's best.
17. Ilya Kovalchuk (Thrashers): The second-best goal scorer in hockey.
4. Vincent LeCavalier (Lightning): One of the most dangerous offensive players in all of hockey.
13. Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings): Simply have to name him to any team created—no matter what the stipulations are.
19*. Joe Thornton (Sharks): "Jumbo" Joe is the perennial assist leader, and a power-play specialist.
18*. Mike Richards (Flyers): Richards can be the first-line centre or the checking-line centre. Versatility earns him a spot on this roster.
10. Patrick Sharp (Blackhawks): Solid defensive game and elite penalty-killing stats earn him a spot representing the number 10.
*Marian Gaborik, Corey Perry, Brendan Morrow
11. Daniel Alfredsson (Senators): Solid two-way star.
12. Jarome Iginla (Flames):Big and strong. Best power forward in the game. Will drop the gloves if needed.
16. Nathan Horton (Panthers): Another big, strong kid. Nicely developing into a true goal-scoring power forward.
* Denotes: players omitted that share the same sweater number.
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