Maybe the deepest position for Team Canada, what five cent(re/er)s do you take to Vancouver this year? Invitees include guys like Vincent Lecavalier and Eric Staal who haven't impressed this season but ignore players like Steven Stamkos (30pts in 30GP).
In my mind there are two stone cold locks to play Center on Team Canada: Joe Thornton and Sidney Crosby. That leaves us two full time spots and an alternate.
So who are the big candidates left?
#15 / Center / Anaheim Ducks
May 10, 1985
|2009 - Ryan Getzlaf||6||30||36||4||29|
3rd in scoring amongst Canadian NHL centers, Getzlaf also has the benefit of playing with Corey Perry. Bringing along good winger-center combos should increase Canada's chances of scoring more than ten goals a game which is why I'm going to leave Patrick Marleau off this list. Capable of playing both center and wing he's feasted on the power play with Heatley and Thornton. I'd bring all three because they're comfortable with each other.
#91 / Center / Dallas Stars
May 02, 1980
|2009 - Brad Richards||9||26||35||1||2|
I haven't heard anything about Brad Richards this year but he's playing dominant hockey right now. A slick passer without an Olympian winger, I think B. Richards should be able to be plugged in with almost anybody (Iginla?) and make it work.
#18 / Center / Philadelphia Flyers
Feb 11, 1985
|2009 - Mike Richards||13||12||25||5||38|
Despite claims he was having a bad season, Mike Richards' numbers look solid to me. M. Richards' is a good two way player and comes bundled with Jeff Carter (also a Center I'd move to wing) which gives Canada an amazing penalty killing duo up front. Philly leads the league in shorthanded goals perenially for a reason.
#91 / Center / Tampa Bay Lightning
Feb 07, 1990
|2009 - Steven Stamkos||17||13||30||-2||16|
Stamkos wasn't invited to camp. Huge numbers though; sixth in the NHL in goals, 4th in power play goals. Probably gets left home this year but if he keeps developing he'll be a lock to play in Sochi barring an NHL ban.
#26 / Center / Colorado Avalanche
Dec 27, 1985
|2009 - Paul Stastny||8||24||32||6||20|Paul Stastny wasn't invited to Team Canada's camp either, but along with Stamkos represents a much stronger candidate than either Eric Staal or Vincent Lecavalier. Stastny's performance this year has helped Colorado get past the loss of Burnaby Joe and is a large reason Avalanche fans forgot the word "rebuild" in a hurry. Edit: Stastny was born in Quebec and is listed as a Canadian by NHL.com, but apparently plays for Team USA in the Olympics. Good for Kessel I suppose. I'll make it up to you with two more options:
#91 / Center / Boston Bruins
Jul 17, 1977
|2009 - Marc Savard||8||6||14||1||8|
No invite for Savard, he's firing on all cylinders after missing a bunch of time to start the year. It seems Hockey Canada isn't enamored with Savard and his injuries this year make him even more of a long shot.
#37 / Center / Boston Bruins
Jul 24, 1985
|2009 - Patrice Bergeron||8||16||24||2||10|
Now that his fragile head hasn't been smashed in years Patrice Bergeron is quietly putting up some solid numbers.
So which five guys do I bring? Thornton, Crosby, M. Richards, Getzlaf and B. Richards is my fill in guy. How about you, who are you bringing and why?