In past Olympics that featured NHL participation, Canada's greatest strength was their unmatchable depth on the blue line. Canada could ice six or more Norris Trophy candidates in these best on best tournaments. Every other nation had just one or two.
With Canada's top 500 or so players eliminated from Olympic participation thanks to the NHL's unwillingness to go to Pyeongchang, South Korea, that depth is gone.
Canada's top defenseman - at least in terms of NHL games played - is Cody Goloubef. The 6'1" 190lb right hander from Oakville, Ontario has played 129 games with Columbus and Colorado. The 28 year old currently plays for the AHL's Stockton Heat - Calgary's farm team.
Four other defensemen combined for a total of 10 career NHL games. You can see how the defense group might be the novice fan's biggest concern.
Goloubef, a University of Wisconsin alum who was drafted in the 2nd round by the Blue Jackets way back in 2008, is typical of most of Canada's defense. He's not overly big but his skating is well suited for the bigger ice and the international game. Experience has taught him to keep his game simple. That is when he is the most effective.
Goloubef's place on the team may only have been secured recently. Unlike most players named to the Olympic team, Goloubef does not have a lot of international experience on the bigger ice surface. But he played well in Canada's Spengler Cup victory at Christmas time.
Prior to that Goloubef - who calls Hockey Hall of Famer Dick Duff his great-uncle - won gold with Canada at the World Juniors in 2009. That tournament was played on NHL-sized ice in Ottawa.