(W)o(e) Team Canada!
For the first time in recent memory, we will not see the NHL star-studded Olympics of Winter’s past.
I am sure you all are very familiar with Gary Bettman’s decision to nix NHL player’s participation in the Olympics this year. Meaning that all of the Olympic hockey rosters have a very different look this year.
IN THE CREASE
Two of the goalies on Team Canada’s roster have played less than 85 games.
31-year-old Justin Peters played 85 games in the NHL and sported a losing record of 25-38-9 with an unimpressive .901 S%. He currently plays for Kölner Haie in Germany.
27-year-old Kevin Poulin is even less impressive (is this supposed to be our Olympic roster? I’m confused). He played only 50 games in the NHL with a 18-25-3 record and a .899 S% (yikes).
He currently plays for EHC Kloten in Switzerland.
Their starter seems to be 31-year-old Ben Scrivens who spent 144 games in the NHL with a 47-64-17 record and a .905 S%. He currently plays for Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Russia.
Their goalie situation is below average, at best. Three goalies with NHL losing records and far below average save percentages. The only plus? They have more experience playing against international players so maybe that will be their saving grace.
THE BLUE LINe
The defensive core sports two defensemen that have no NHL experience. Mat Robinson and Chris Lee both went undrafted in the NHL out of college. 37-year-old Lee does has impressive KHL numbers, and was the top scoring defenseman in the league in the 2016-17 season. He is also one of Team Canada’s alternate captains
Next we have a group of defensemen with less than 25 games played in the NHL. Chay Genoway played one game in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. He currently plays for Lada Togliatti in Russia. Maxim Noreau played six games in the NHL also for the Wild. He is Team Canada’s other alternate captain. Rounding out this group is Karl Stollery who has 23 games of experience in the NHL. He bounced between three different NHL teams and currently plays for Dinamo Riga in Latvia.
The three most notable blue-liners for Team Canada are Stefan Elliot, Cody Goloubef and Marc-Andre Gragnani. With a combined 291 games in the NHL between the three of them they still don’t have much pro time.
This is where we find some more of the well known NHL names.
Only four of these players have less than 100 games of NHL experience and those players are: Christian Thomas with 27 GP, Eric O’Dell with 41 GP, Brandon Kozun with 20 GP and Quinton Howden with 97 GP.
Also making an appearance on the roster we have: Gilbert Brule who played 299 games in the NHL with 43 goals and 52 assists, Andrew Ebbett who played 224 games in the NHL with 26 goals and 45 assists, Ebbett broke his leg in 2015 and was told he may never walk normally again let alone play hockey, so his appearance in this year’s Olympics is an impressive one. Rob Klinkhammer played 193 game sin the NHL scoring 22 goals with 21 assists and Linden Vey played 138 games in the NHL with 14 goals and 30 assists.
Wojtek Wolski played 451 games in the NHL and scored 99 goals with 168 assists. He was a 21st overall draft pick by the Colorado Avalanche. He bounced between five NHL teams in his seven seasons. In 2016 he broke his neck and thought he was paralyzed after diving head first into the boards. Wojtek plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia.
Mason Raymond played 546 games in the NHL and scored 115 goals with 136 assists. He was the 51st overall draft pick for the Vancouver Canucks in 2005. He played for four different teams during his time in the NHL. Raymond currently plays for SC Bern in Switzerland.
Maxim Lapierre played 614 games in the NHL with 65 goals and 74 assists. He was the 61st overall draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens in 2003. He played for five different teams in the NHL. Lapierre won the Calder Cup in 2007 with AHL Hamilton Bulldogs. He currently plays for HC Lugano in Switzerland.
Rene Borque was quite a well known player during his time in the NHL and is one of Team Canada’s alternate captains. He played 725 games with 163 goals and 153 assists. He played for six different NHL teams and had a 50 point season during his time with the Calgary Flames. Borque currently plays for Djurgardens IF in Sweden.
Derek Roy is by far the most notable player on this roster, with 738 NHL games played. He scored 189 goals with 335 assists. He was drafted 32nd overall in 2001 by the Buffalo Sabres. Roy currently plays for Linköpings HC in Sweden and was selected for the 2010 Olympic summer roster but did not make the final cut.
Chris Kelly is Team Canada’s captain and has the most NHL experience on the roster with 833 GP. He had 123 goals and 166 assists. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011 with the Boston Bruins. Kelly currently plays for the Belleville Senators in the AHL.
General Manager Sean Burke recognized that while the NHL is the best hockey league in the world that their is plenty of talent outside of it.
“The N.H.L. is the best league in the world, and I don’t think anybody would disagree with that,but Canada still has a large pool of talent. Try to tell them it’s not the N.H.L. players, it’s not the best players in the world.”
While I agree that their are plenty of talented players outside of the NHL, the Olympics this year may be a struggle for Team Canada.
The group of forwards they selected is a veteran squad but a very talented one. Where we are going to see issues is first at the blue line and then in the crease. While NHL talent isn’t everything, the defensive core for this team has not seen nearly enough pro games to prepare themselves for this level of competition.
The goalie situation is really awful and there is no other way to spin it. Their collective save percentage is .902 and they sport losing NHL records. All three goalies were unable to keep up with the speed and accuracy of the NHL shooters.
Due to the fact that NO NHL players are in these Olympics does help the situation but it will be a much more even playing field (or rink) than in years past.
Featured image from CHL.com
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