Ever since Monday the talk around the league has been the devastating injury to Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos. Monday in their matinee game against the Boston Bruins Stamkos crashed heavily into his own net and in doing so broke his right tibia.
The Stamkos injury means that he will be out of commission indefinitely. Now despite just being out of the Lightning lineup for the foreseeable future the injury also could mean that Stamkos’ participation for team Canada at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi could be in jeopardy, a big blow to Canada’s offense.
Besides Stamkos and his injury there may also be some other players who were expected to make it that may have played themselves off the team with their poor starts to the season. Two names that immediately come to mind are Flyer’s captain Claude Giroux and Hurricanes’’ captain Eric Staal.
When team Canada held their orientation camp in the summer these two were penciled in by many to already have a spot on the roster. However, through the first 18 games Giroux has just one goal and 10 points and has the second worst plus/minus rating on the Flyers with an unimpressive -8. Meanwhile Staal’s numbers are similar, having only amassed 9 points and a team worst -9 in Carolina’s first 18 games.
TSN insider Darren Dreger reports that Team Canada management still feels very strong about Giroux and believes he can be a very important part to the team, but with his terrible start this season it’s hard to think he deserves a spot over players who have excelled this year.
Another name that could be on the bubble is Rangers’ Rick Nash. Nash is coming off a concussion that has kept him out of the lineup since the Rangers’ third game of the season. Now Nash started practicing with the team this week and is expected to be in the lineup very soon, but if Nash’s injury prevents him from competing at 100% his spot on the team may be up in the air as well.
Luckily for Canada there have been others who have started the season with stellar performances and if given the chance may very well be able to provide the void left by injuries and under performers.
With his team off to an incredible 14-3 start and having put up 19 points in those games, Matt Duchene is a name that would be very hard for the team to overlook. He like Stamkos is a centre, but if he makes the team may be looked upon to play the wing due to a plethora of talented centres at Canada’s disposal.
Duchene could prove to be a very valuable piece as he can play all situations, has incredible speed, and through 17 games this year has yet to take a single penalty meaning he plays a very smart game.
Another name that should get some consideration despite failing to receive an invitation to the team’s orientation camp is Dallas Stars’ left winger Jamie Benn. Benn has 16 points in the Stars’ first 18 games. This is good enough for second on the Stars behind Tyler Seguin. Benn is also a +6 which also leads the team.
Benn is a big body who can play physical, can dominate offensively, and like Duchene can be very versatile. Benn could be a great replacement for big bodies such as Nash or Staal. In fact TSN’s Darren Dreger ran through an updated guess of who he thought the roster might include this past Tuesday, including Jamie Benn.
With their hot start a number of San Jose Sharks may also get a strong look as well. Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Thornton have all put up substantial numbers this season and could push for a roster spots as well. Thornton has 19 points in 18 games, while both Couture and Maleau have 18. The Sharks trio also have a combined +17 rating and 8 powerplay goals between them.
Thornton and Marleau would also bring a great veteran presence to the team as both were part of the 2010 squad that won gold in Vancouver. The two were also part of the team’s most consistent offensive lines along with former Shark Dany Heatley.
Team Canada’s Management staff met in Toronto to strongly discuss the core of their roster on Tuesday. Ideas of what names exactly were discussed are unsure, but one can assume the players above were part of these discussions among others. So, as we inch closer and closer to January when the roster will be named, once can only assume that these names will be discussed a lot more thoroughly.
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