On Tuesday, January 7th, all nations must announce their full hockey rosters for Sochi 2014. It also will mark exactly 30 days until the Olympics officially kick off.
We haven't much looked at the 2014 Olympics yet, but now seems like a great time to project Canada's Olympic rosters.
Joe Pelletier's Projected Roster: Canada
14 Forwards (left wing - center - right wing)
Logan Couture - Sidney Crosby - John Tavares
Rick Nash - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Sharp
Jamie Benn - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Claude Giroux - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Matt Duchene - Patrice Bergeron
The real key here is finding chemistry as fast as possible. The 2010 team was high on taking familiar NHL combinations. Canada does not have the same luxury this time though Toews-Sharp, Getzlaf (a real coach Babcock favorite)-Perry and Stamkos-St. Louis do fit the bill. There are some interchangeable parts that the coaches will enjoy working with. How they handle the minutes will be fascinating.
A lot of people are expecting Crosby and Stamkos to team up but I suspect we will John Tavares playing on Crosby's right side when all is said and done. I think Jamie Benn will play the Brendan Morrow role from 2010 - the hard hitting energy guy rather than his usual starring role. But I do think he'd be an excellent fit with Getzlaf and Perry.
8 Defensemen (left - right)
Duncan Keith - Shea Weber
Marc-Edouard Vlasic - Drew Doughty
Jay Bouwmeester - Alex Pietrangelo
Mark Giordano - P.K. Subban
Canada's depth on defense is their key advantage over every other nation. The well-publicized problem is Canada has too many right sided defenders. Dan Boyle, Kris Letang, and Brent Seabrook are among the deserving candidates left off this list. Many believe one of them might make it over Subban.
Keith - quite possibly the best defenseman in the world right now - is the only obvious inclusion on the left side. Though who he best pairs with is a good question. Bouwmeester plays well with Pietrangelo in St. Louis and his skating ability makes him a good bet for the international sized ice. Vlasic has long been one of the NHL's most underrated defensemen and would be a good fit with Weber or especially Doughty.
The last spot is a tough call. They could take a 5th rightie, but coach Mike Babcock is on record as wanting 4 left and 4 right defenders. Mark Giordano, though he's had an injury plagued year, gets the nod here because he has had a little more big ice experience than Dan Hamhuis and Marc Staal. If Giordano was healthy this year I think he'd getting a lot more press.
Part of me really wanted to give the third spot to Chicago's Corey Crawford, but I'm not so sure it matters. These games will belong to the incumbent Luongo and the newcomer Price. Both will get round robin time, but whoever starts the medal round will be the guy for the remainder of the Games. Luongo has proven he can win, but he has also proven he can be the perfect teammate in the back up role. I'm sure all three goalies will be happy to do whatever they can to win.
For some expert projections on the other nations, here are some quick links:
Team USA already named their team on January 1st.