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A look at the early locks and favourites to make Team Canada

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TSN.ca Staff
8/26/2013 2:44:19 PM
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With Hockey Canada's Olympic orientation camp underway in Calgary, the NHL on TSN took an early look at which players should make the final roster and represent the country in February in Russia.

There was no lock in net, but Vancouver Games starter Roberto Luongo is considered a favourite to make the team.

"It doesn't seem like anyone's way out in front but it's hard to believe, given the comments Mike Babcock made, that Robert Luongo wouldn't be on this team," said NHL on TSN analyst Ray Ferraro. "Babcock talked about how he's proud of the way Luongo has handled this past year and that he's a winner. He's won before (in Vancover)."

Experience appears to be a big factor in determining which three goalies coaches will ultimately go with.

"You do also have some World Championship experience in Mike Smith and they believe that Carey Price is going to find a way to have a better year for the Montreal Canadiens," added TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger.

"The top three would be Luongo, Price, and Smith."

Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, and Shea Weber were considered locks on defence by the panel while four players favoured to make the team included Alex Pietrangelo, PK Subban, Kris Letang, and a potential surprise in Jay Bouwmeester.

"Even though Bouwmeester's game isn't as dynamic as Subban's, even though it doesn't have as much bite as Letang's game, he plays really well on the big ice," said NHL on TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. "When he's played in the World Championship, he's fared very well. He defends very well and when you've got the wheels and the ability to move the puck the way that Bouwmeester does, I think it's natural that he is one of the favourites to slot right in behind Keith, Doughty, and Weber.

Ferraro added another potentially surprise candidate to make the team in Vancouver Canucks' blueliner Dan Hamhuis.

"When Kevin Lowe was talking about what they're looking for in their defencemen, he talked about guys that can defend the big ice, are good skaters, and can quickly move the puck. Hamhuis answers a lot of those questions. I believe Hamhuis has a real good chance of pushing his way onto this team."

Dreger also mentioned that Team Canada coaches will be putting an emphasis on defencemen who are responsible in their own zone, cautioning against too many offensive defencemen making the squad.

"There is a lot of gamble defensively in Subban's and Letang's game but you're looking at a Norris Trophy winner so I think Subban has the edge."

Up front there were a number of locks, especially at the centre position where Sidney Crosby, Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Claude Giroux, and John Tavares all figure to make the team. With so many centres, line combinations could pose a problem for coaches.

"As much as Babcock would like to play players in their comfortable position, I don't see any way around the fact they're going to have to move centres to the wing."

Wingers Eric Staal, Rick Nash, Steven Stamkos, and Patrice Bergeron were also considered locks by the panel while Corey Perry and Martin St. Louis were added to the depth chart as favourites. As for the few positions up for grabs, McKenzie said players whose games are tailored towards the big ice could hold the advantage.

"It's going to be interesting. The decisions that were made last time – Mike Richards played the wing last time and was really effective – this time around, does the big ice work against Richards and in the favour of Jeff Carter who was effectively the last cut for Team Canada up front last time around?

The first three months of the NHL season will be the final audition for the players but it appears there may be a lot players competing for few positions.

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(2) TAM 0, (3) MON 2 (2) NYR 1, (3) PHI 0


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