For the final post in my series I will name the forwards that I believe should represent Canada in men’s hockey at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The forwards were probably the most difficult to select, due to the problem that chemistry has to be considered as well as skill, hustle, strength, determination and a power to ignore the pressure of winning the gold medal. With all that in mind, I believe strongly in my forward core and I think that my team would succeed at the Olympics. Let’s hope Stevie Y is reading this!
Forwards : Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, Mike Richards, Jonathan Toews, Jordan Eberle, Corey Perry, Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash, Ryan-Nugent Hopkins, James Neal, Brad Richards
Explanation: First off, let me start by saying that there are a lot of forwards to choose from for team Canada. They could almost have two competitive teams in the Olympics.
But anyways, to my explanations.
Sidney Crosby is a given on this team. Despite only playing 22 games due to concussion problems this season, he still recorded 37 points. Voted by his peers in the NHL as the best player, he may be known to whine and complain, but his skill set cannot be denied.
Likewise; Steven Stamkos is one of the best players in the game. The only player to reach 60 goals this year, his shot is feared around the league. After watching this video it is easy to tell why he is a shoo-in for the Canadian team.
Ryan Getzlaf is the third line center that every team fears. At 6’4, 224 pounds he is an illustration of the depth that the Canadian team has. Other teams will have huge problems matching up against him, and he plays an effective shutdown role as well.
Claude Giroux’s playoff performance thus far is reminiscent of french Canadians such as Maurice Richard and Mario Lemieux. Giroux has recorded 14 points in 6 games; a throwback to the old NHL. He was no slouch in the regular season either; with 93 points in 77 games he finished third in regular season scoring.
Mike Richards : the penalty kill specialist. Richards can shut down opposing teams as effortlessly as he can skate. After a shocking trade to Los Angeles last summer, he flourished as a shut-down player on the Kings, playing heavy penalty kill minutes.
Jonathan Toews has already hoisted the Stanley Cup and won a gold medal at the Olympics; and he is only 23. With a great career in front of him, Toews played almost at a point-per game pace this year with 57 points in 59 games. Already a great player, Toews will provide much leadership on a Canadian team that will be challenging for the gold medal.
Jordan Eberle is one of the wild cards that I picked. Playing on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins wing this year, he scored 76 points. He will also be forever remembered as a clutch Canadian player, scoring a goal to tie the Russians in the World Juniors with only 6 seconds remaining in the game. The Canadians went on to win the game; and Eberle’s place as a Canadian icon was solidified.
Correy Perry is a 50 goal scorer in the NHL. He is also a 3 time 30 goal scorer in the NHL. He will also be a goal scorer again at the Olympics. But another important element that he possesses is his chemistry with Ryan Getzlaf as they play together on a line in Anaheim. At, 6’3, 203 pounds, Perry is also another big body that other teams will have a hard time matching up against.
Tyler Seguin finished second in the league in plus minus with a plus 34 rating. The 2nd overall pick in 2010 has blossomed into a premier playmaker, and with 67 points this year he will only continue to improve.
Rick Nash will be returning after winning a gold medal in 2010 with the team. The Brampton, Ontario native will be 29 when the Olympics roll around. His scoring touch (5 straight 30 goal seasons) will be a bonus for a the a great Canadian team.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins just completed his rookie season, and it may raise a few eyebrows that he is on this list. The 19 year old had an impressive rookie season and has been nominated for the Calder Trophy. By the time 2014 rolls around he will be an NHL All-Star.
James Neal had a terrific season this year, scoring 40 goals riding shotgun to one of the best centers Russians in the world, Evgeni Malkin. He also has time to form chemistry with Crosby as they play on the same team.
Brad Richards was the last choice I made for this team. He is a strong, versatile player who can play point on the powerplay as well as center. With a Conn Smythe trophy under his belt as the playoff M.V.P. from when he won the Stanley Cup in the 2003-2004 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the ‘other’ Richards will prove useful as a 13th forward.
I hope you enjoyed my series on my projected picks for the 2014 men’s Olympic hockey team that will play in Sochi, Russia!