TSN's Ferraro unveils his 2014 Winter Olympics hockey team

TSN.ca Staff
2/6/2013 7:29:52 PM
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With just over a year to go before the 2014 Winter Olympics officially open in Sochi, it's time to start thinking about which players Canada will send to defend its gold medal in men's hockey.

The 2010 team that captured gold on home soil was a mixture of decorated international veterans like Scott Niedermayer and Jarome Iginla, alongside an injection of highly skilled young players like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

While the National Hockey League's participation in Sochi is still yet to be made official, the selection of Canada's national team makes for an intriguing debate.

Ever since Mark Messier was left off the 1998 Olympic team that failed to medal in Nagano, the make-up of the Canadian Olympic hockey team for each Olympiad has bred fierce competition and much second guessing both before and after the games.

So what will be the winning formula for Sochi?

TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro has unveiled his vision for Canada's team if the Games were to start right now - with a provisional 25-man roster showing significant turnover from Vancouver's golden boys.

Ferraro tapped six forwards to return for 2014, including a projected top line of Sidney Crosby, Eric Staal and Corey Perry, followed by Jonathan Toews, Rick Nash, and Mike Richards. With five of the six returnees having been Olympic first-timers in Vancouver, it leaves only Nash as a two-time Olympic vet amongst the forward ranks.

Stepping up to fill the void are six young forwards who are all currently under 26. Canada's top two point producers from the 2011-12 season have spots as reigning 'Rocket' Richard Trophy-winner Steven Stamkos and Flyers captain Claude Giroux join Nash on the second line.

Flanking Toews on Ferraro's third line are a pair of young players that have elevated their game since entering the league as highly-touted draft prospects in John Tavares and Tyler Seguin.

Meanwhile, the fourth line sees Richards slide over to the wing to play alongside Jordan Staal and Edmonton's Jordan Eberle, both of whom make their Olympic debuts after representing Canada at the Under-18, World Junior and World Championship levels.

Chicago's Patrick Sharp and Dallas Stars power forward Jamie Benn slot in as depth options on the roster.

The defence is anchored by a trio of returnees who have all been nominated for or won the Norris Trophy since the Vancouver games: Chicago's Duncan Keith, Los Angeles Kings rearguard Drew Doughty and Nashville captain Shea Weber.

All three were under the radar a year prior to the selection of the Vancouver team and they're joined by a trio of offensive weapons from the point: Pittsburgh's Kris Letang, Rangers veteran Dan Girardi and young St. Louis blueliner Alex Pietrangelo.

Joining the squad as extra blue line options are stay-at-home stalwart Marc Staal (who completes Canada's Staal family trifecta for 2014) and Philadelphia rearguard Braydon Coburn.

Starting in net for Canada is an Olympic newcomer in Montreal keeper Carey Price. While short on Olympic experience, Price will forever be remembered for standing on his head at the 2007 World Juniors to help Canada secure gold.

Carolina's Cam Ward slots in as his backup, bringing a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy and World Championship gold medal to the team. Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury reprises his role as third keeper from the Vancouver team on Ferraro's roster and also brings a Cup ring and international experience to the table.

Hockey Canada - among other national governing bodies - have been pressing for 25-man rosters in Sochi to factor in for potential injuries and logistical planning.

There is still a year's worth of hockey to be played before the final list gets submitted. But if the Games were to begin now, Ray Ferraro has selected a collection of young and skilled players to complement 13 returnees from Vancouver in hopes of helping Canada defend its Olympic gold for the first time since 1952.

Carey Price (Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)


(Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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