Who would have ever thought that four former Edmonton Oilers would litter the Men’s Canadian Olympic Team?
Today, the roster for the Men’s Canadian Olympic hockey team was announced, and he 2018 Winter Olympics are the first since 1992 not to feature NHL players. Much like their U.S. counterparts, the Canadian Olympic team is filled with NHL rejects and AHL players. While Canada will be without names like Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Carey Price, they still boast a respectable number of quality players from leagues across the world. It’s a huge disappointment for fans that the world’s best players are unable to compete in Pyeongchang; however, it should result in a more competitive tournament overall, and will give smaller nations like Slovenia and South Korea a chance to shine on the international stage.
While this writer may not agree with the decision made by the NHL, it does put an interesting twist on the tournament. It should be closer than ever, and provide some great hockey.
With that being said, let’s take a look at the 2018 Men’s roster.
Ben Scrivens, Justin Peters, Kevin Poulin
Starting from the net outwards, Canada has the potential to have the strongest goaltending tandem in the tournament. However, they also have the potential to be a disaster.
While no one can doubt the talent of any of Ben Scrivens, Justin Peters or Kevin Poulin, there’s a reason that the three are no longer in the NHL. All three goaltenders are known to be streaky, especially in the case of former Edmonton Oiler Scrivens. However, one has to feel that Scrivens will be given the starting reigns out of the gate. While Peters and Poulin would never be considered NHL starters, they both provided respectable goaltending in their short stints with the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Islanders, respectively.
That being said, Scrivens is the only goaltender of the three who’s carried the starting load for an NHL team for an extended period of time and not looked completely out of water. While he was part of the admittedly terrible Oilers teams of years past, Scrivens had flashes where he looked primed to be the organizations’ goaltender of the future. Who can forget his 59-save shutout against the Sharks? He’s also played well this season, posting a 19-11 record for Ufa Salavat Yulayev of the KHL. The former Spruce Grove Saint looks primed to carry the load for Canada - the only question is how far will he take them.
Stefan Elliott, Chay Genoway, Cody Goloubef, Marc-Andre Gragnani, Chris Lee, Maxim Noreau, Mat Robinson, Karl Stollery
On first glance, I admittedly had no clue who any of Team Canada’s defencemen were - likely the first time that’s happened to me since I’ve been born. Headed up by Stefan Elliot, a former 2nd round pick of the Colorado Avalanche, the rag-tag group of defenders - on the surface - appear to be Canada’s weak spot. While most of the defenders heading to Pyeongchang have some NHL playing experience, few have played a major role in any organization. I’m interested to see if they’ll be able to keep up with opposition featuring the raw speed of 39-year-old Brian Gionta - kidding - but I do think that they’ll be the biggest question mark heading into next month’s tournament.
Rene Bourque, Gilbert Brule, Andrew Ebbett, Quinton Howden, Chris Kelly, Rob Klinkhammer, Brandon Kozun, Maxim Lapierre, Eric O’Dell, Mason Raymond, Derek Roy, Christian Thomas, Linden Vey, Wojtek Wolski
If you’ve ever said something along the lines of “Boy, I wonder whatever happened to _______?”, chances are they played on the Canadian Olympic roster in Pyeongchang. On the surface, the Canadians look to be strong on the offensive side of the puck, featuring star names such as former Panthers forward Wojtek Wolski, former Flame Rene Borque, and the greatest thing to ever happen to Nail Yakupov, Derek Roy. It features a solid mix of offensive minded players, and players featuring what Brian Burke refers to as “truculence”. Say what you will about the skill level of Rob Klinkhammer, but he’s truculent out the wazoo.
Other highlights of the men’s roster include former first-round pick Quinton Howden (Panthers), Mason Raymond (Canucks), and - because he’s such a highlight I need to name him twice - Rob Klinkhammer.
While still not a fan of the decision to scrap NHL players, I’m still interested in the Olympics. As an Oilers fan, it’s not often I get to see five players from the “Glory Days” on Team Canada. Even without “major” names, these are still some of the highest quality hockey players in the world - something that I think gets forgotten a little simply due to the fact we know what we’re missing. We’re still in for some high quality hockey - and really, it doesn’t matter who’s in the jerseys, I’m always excited to watch Canada/USA.