According to John Shannon of Rogers Sportsnet on Tuesday, five centermen have been chosen for Team Canada's men's hockey team at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi. They are Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins, John Tavares of the New York Islanders, Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks, Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks and Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins.
The selections of Crosby, Getzlaf and Tavares are a no-brainer because they are all in the top five in NHL scoring. While Toews and Bergeron are being selected for their excellence in both ends of the ice and their outstanding leadership skills. The Blackhawks faced the Bruins in the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, and Toews and Bergeron had a significant role on their respective teams. Bergeron meanwhile might not have excellent offensive numbers, but has won 60% of his faceoffs, and has an advantage because Team Canada's assistant general manager is Bruins' general manager Peter Chiarelli.
There will be 25 players selected, and even though Shannon has leaked these five names, if a player like Bergeron struggles between now and January 7, he could be left off the squad.
Here are my predictions for Canada's Olympic team.
FORWARDS--Jamie Benn--Dallas Stars, Patrice Bergeron--Boston Bruins, Logan Couture--San Jose Sharks, Sidney Crosby--Pittsburgh Penguins, Ryan Getzlaf--Anaheim Ducks, Patrick Marleau--San Jose Sharks, Rick Nash--New York Rangers, Corey Perry--Anaheim Ducks, Patrick Sharp--Chicago Blackhawks, Steven Stamkos--Tampa Bay Lightning, Martin St. Louis--Tampa Bay Lightning, John Tavares--New York Islanders, Jonathan Toews--Chicago Blackhawks, Joe Thornton--San Jose Sharks.
DEFENSEMEN--Jay Bouwmeester--St. Louis Blues, Dan Boyle--San Jose Sharks, Drew Doughty--Los Angeles Kings, Duncan Keith--Chicago Blackhawks, Brent Seabrook--Chicago Blackhawks, P.K. Subban--Montreal Canadiens, Alex Pietrangelo--St. Louis Blues, Shea Weber--Nashville Predators.
GOALTENDERS--Josh Harding--Minnesota Wild; Roberto Luongo--Vancouver Canucks, Carey Price--Montreal Canadiens.
Out of the 25 players on the list there are eight NHL captains, five players leading their NHL team in scoring, four Hart Trophy winners, two Norris Trophy winners, three Art Ross Trophy winners, two Selke Trophy winners, and four Rocket Richard Trophy winners.
It also should come as no surprise that 17 of the 25 players are in the Western Conference, because of the west's dominance over the east this season.
The surprises might be Benn, Couture and Harding because of their lack of experience, Nash because of his injury issues and Boyle, St. Louis and Thornton because of their age.
Statistics tell a lot. St. Louis leads the Lightning in scoring after leading the NHL in scoring last year. Harding has been the best goaltender all season. He leads the NHL with a 1.51 goals against average and has not given up more than three goals per game all season long. Thornton is second in the NHL assists with 31. Nash should be in top form come February after starting the year with a concussion. Boyle remains the quarterback on the Sharks' top power play unit, while Benn and Couture are rising stars who have a combined 242 shots on goal.
Some of the players left off are Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers. Kunitz's numbers should actually be a little better by playing with Crosby, while Letang is an amazing -6 on an excellent Penguins team. Giroux has been better as of late, but only had six points the entire month of October, while Crawford was only very ordinary between the Blackhawks' pipes this season before his lower body injury.