Man, it sure doesn't seem like two years since the golden goal in Vancouver, does it? The "IGGY!" heard round the world will remain one of the defining moments in Canadian hockey history. How does Canada repeat their outcome from 2010? By putting together an even better roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics, held in Sochi, Russia. We don't know for sure if NHL players will going, but it's going to be on the table as a part of this summer's CBA negotiations, and the players want it.
So assuming the NHL will be participating, who will Team Canada select? Follow along after the jump to find out who could make the final cut.
It's tough to imagine a Canadian national team without Sid the Kid. If he's healthy, he'll go. Hopefully they'll have figured out how to get him back to 100% and keep him there.
Can't argue with Captain Serious. With Crosby out, is Toews the best Canadian hockey player in the world? He'll be 25 in 2014, already has one Gold Medal and a Cup. He was Canada's leading scorer in 2010. He's a lock.
The last great hope for the New York Islanders has absolutely lit up the scoreboard as a 21 year old for a moribund franchise. No reason not to expect him to achieve even greater heights as we get closer to the Olympics.
Another returning player from the 2010 gold medal team. Bergeron can do anything asked of him, and regularly goes up against the best in the world. He can still add some secondary scoring while playing an elite shutdown game.
A powerful young emerging star in the Lone Star state, Benn has been impressing scouts for over two years. In addition to his incredible strength and balance, Benn possesses a hard, accurate shot. Canada will need some size down low, and Benn can provide that.
Naturally a center, Duchene has spent time at LW and would fit in nicely as a speedy, goal scoring option for any of of Canada's talented playmaking centers. He has been hobbled by a wonky knee this season, but he has been a fantastic goal scorer since entering the NHL and will only be 23 in 2014.
Ignore the position listed above. Kane is a LW and plays the position with authority. He was fairly thin when he entered the NHL, but as he has filled out, you can see the benefits of his physical style of play. Though Kane has plenty of skill, he has learned that he can simply overpower a lot of NHLers. Like Benn, Canada will need some physical play up front and Kane can certainly help in that area.
Couture has some experience at LW, and that's where he will have to play if he wants to go to Sochi. Couture is a hardworking scorer with a pretty sound two-way game. He certainly won't be one of Canada's go-to guys on offense, but provides quality depth and could play on a solid two-way line with Bergeron.
Canada will have a large group of talented centers to choose from. That means some guys are going to have to play out of position. Stamkos has had a few cups of coffee at RW in the NHL, and that's where I would expect him to play in Sochi. He'll be Canada's top goal scoring option.
Another C/RW guy who will likely have to play wing at the Olympics. We all now know why the Flyers were prepared to dump Mike Richards and Jeff Carter. Giroux is one of the NHL's finest playmakers and close to a lock for Team Canada.
While linemate Ryan Getzlaf continues to slump, Perry has continued on as an elite scorer in the NHL. He won the Hart Trophy as last season's MVP, and he's on pace for another 35 goal season. He also has the ability to get under the opponent's skin, although some of his decisions are questionable. He scored 4 goals in Vancouver in 2010, and Perry will only be 28 in 2014.
How can you leave Eberle off the list? He's in just his second NHL season and is only pace for nearly 40 goals. "Clutchiness" has been shown to be mostly myth, but Eberle does have a knack for scoring timely goals. I'd chalk that up to more luck than anything, but hey, Canada can always use more luck on its side.
Obviously, I'd go with a younger group of forwards than many if I was picking the team. Canada's has loads of talented players, and many of those from 2010 will be leaving or have left the prime of their careers in the next few seasons. Who's in your forward group for Team Canada? Leave some comments and be sure to check back later for Part II: Defense & Goaltending.