Just one day after I speculated about who would be invited to Team Canada's 2010 Olympic Orientation Camp, Hockey Canada announced the list of invitees.
The roster consists of 46 players, including five goaltenders, 16 defencemen and 25 forwards. 40 of the players have senior international experience, either at the Olympics, IIHF World Championship or World Cup of Hockey/Canada Cup. 36 of the 46 players played for either the National Junior Team or National Men's Under-18 Team.
It is a bit of an big roster to work with, but hey this is Canada and there are a lot of worthy candidates to consider. The camp will run from August 24-27 at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary.
Just to be clear, all players in the NHL (and beyond, for that matter) remain eligible for inclusion on the Canadian Olympic team. Just because a player is not at the orientation camp does not mean he may not be making the team. That being said, the 2002 and 2006 Canadian Olympic teams were comprised entirely of players who had been invited to camp.
Here's the roster broken down by position, with my commentary following.
Goaltenders - Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, Cam Ward, Marc Andre Fleury and Steve Mason. The only surprise for me here is they went with more than 4 goalies. It seems to me that 4 is the perfect number to run practices and scrimmages, allowing for each goalie to get adquate time between the pipes. Mason had an incredible first year, but he will need to be every bit as good to start the upcoming season. Some people are noting the exclusion of veterans Chris osgood and Marty Turco. I don't think it makes a huge difference. If healthy, Brodeur and Luongo are on this team, leaving only the third goalie spot open. Chances are high that third goalie will never play anyways. Good on Canada for bringing the young guys for the future.
Defense - Jay Bouwmeester, Dan Boyle, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger, Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf, Marc Staal, Shea Weber, Francois Beauchemin, Brent Burns, Drew Doughty, Stephane Robidas, Mike Green, Dan Hamhuis, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook. Just five of these 16 defenseman have Olympic experience, but those are five are likely to make the team - Bouwmeester, Boyle, Niedermayer, Pronger and Regehr. Again, 16 seems like a bit of big number, and I'm surprised to see Robidas, Hamhuis and Beauchemin included. I like all three, but if they make the Olympic team it is because Canada's blue line is decimated with injuries.
Forwards - Sidney Crosby, Shane Doan, Simon Gagne, Dany Heatley, Jarome Iginla, Rick Nash, Joe Sakic, Martin St. Louis, Eric Staal, Joe Thornton, Vincent Lecavalier, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, Milan Lucic, Patrick Marleau, Andy McDonald, Brendan Morrow, Corey Perry, Mike Richards, Derek Roy, Patrick Sharp, Ryan Smyth, Jordan Staal, Jonathan Toews and Dan Cleary.
Cleary may be the only surprise here, but the biggest surprise has to be the omission of Boston Bruins star center Marc Savard. Despite his gaudy offensive totals and his improved defensive game, he continues to get no respect. He may have been in tough to crack the top 13, but he should be at the camp.
Ryan Smyth's inclusion raised a few eyebrows, as many suspect he is past his prime and will not be included at the Olympic level any longer. I think it is a good move by Canada to bring him to the camp though, as his war stories from all his international experience will inspire the younger players.
I am particularly happy to see Milan Lucic at the camp. His game is still rough around the edges and he likely will not be at his prime until say the 2014 Olympics, but he is a big game player who can make an amazing impact with his physical play. Given the 2010 Olympics are going to be played on the "small" NHL regulation sized ice, Lucic could be a force.
I first suggested Lucic should be a candidate early last season. I asked around for some feedback from others and I was politely acknowledged. Jason Kay of The Hockey News said "we'll wait and see" and James Mirtle of The Globe & Mail bluntly replied with three words - "Not a chance."
Now I realize Lucic is still a real long shot. But given that the 2002 and 2006 Olympic teams were made up entirely of players who had been invited to the orientation camp, I have to think Lucic now has a chance.