This may be premature considering NHL players may not even be attending the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, but I thought I’d do a projection on who I think should be on the team regardless. With Steve Yzerman back at the helm to pick the team after his success in 2010, it will be interesting to see the team he picks. I will play mock GM and pick the team that I would send, if NHL players are given the green light to attend. I will do a series of three articles; in the first I will choose the goalies, in the second I will choose the defensemen and in the third I will choose the forwards that I believe should represent Canada at the 2014 Olympic Games. This is all my opinion and is not to be taken personally.
Goalies: Mike Smith, Carey Price, Cam Ward
Explanation: The goalies were difficult to choose. I believe that Montreal Canadien Carey Price and Carolina Hurricane Cam Ward will both be playing in Sochi for Canada; they are both excellent goaltenders. Cam Ward posted a .915 save percentage while playing for a non-playoff team. Carey Price posted a .916 save percentage in the same situation. Neither of them had great defensemen in front of them, yet they both had outstanding seasons. They were also both workhorses, each playing 64+ games. Neither of these goalies are questionable picks and I think they would fare well under the national spotlight at the Olympics.
However, neither of them have previous Olympic experience and consequently, I had trouble choosing the third goalie. Would a veteran like Roberto Luongo be better? Or how about Stanley Cup winning goaltender Marc-André Fleury? But I chose to take the road less traveled and go off the board. I chose Phoenix Coyote Mike Smith.
Smith is an exceptional goalie, as demonstrated by his sparkling .930 save percentage this year. It was no fluke either, he was sixth in the league in games played for goaltenders with 67. He was also tied for third in the league in shutouts, with 8, behind only Jonathan Quick and Brian Elliot. At 30 years of age, the Kingston native guided his team to the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 25 years with a .950 save percentage in the playoffs thus far. He has performed admirably and if this level of play is sustained, he cannot be left off the team. Fleury and Luongo are easy picks for the team; but it is hard to ignore the fact that neither of them remain in the playoffs.