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TSN reveals early projections for Canada's 2014 men's team

TSN.ca Staff

7/19/2013 10:06:18 PM

With the National Hockey League announcing Friday that its players will be heading to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, it's time to start thinking about which players Canada will send to defend its gold medal in men's hockey.

The selection of Canada's national team always makes for an intriguing debate and never moreso than right now as the team transitions from some of its long-standing veterans to a young core that began its foundation at the 2010 Vancouver Games.

The 2010 team that captured gold on home soil was a mixture of decorated international veterans like Scott Niedermayer and Jarome Iginla, alongside an injection of highly skilled young players like Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews.

So, which pieces of that team will return to the Olympic ice to defend the Maple Leaf?

The most final line of defence is perhaps the hottest debate swirling ahead of the selection of Canada's 2014 team.

A man that has recently been given his starter's job back on his NHL club might just be the man to lead Canada into Sochi as Roberto Luongo has been tapped by TSN's panel to make the trip.

After a years-long fight for playing time in the Vancouver crease with recently-traded tandem-mate Cory Schneider, Luongo is the right man to get the start according to TSN Hockey Insider Jamie McLennan.

"Going into this season you know that he's going to be the starter for the Vancouver Canucks," McLennan said of Luongo. "He's going to be in mid-season form come the Olympics. Let's not forget: He won last time, so he has the experience and the confidence to know what it takes to help Team Canada win."

Joining Luongo in net for Canada is an Olympic newcomer in Montreal keeper Carey Price. While short on Olympic experience, Price will forever be remembered for standing on his head at the 2007 World Juniors to help Canada secure gold.

Rounding out the crease crew is Chicago netminder Corey Crawford. Fresh off back-stopping the Hawks to a second Stanley Cup in four years, Crawford was believed by many to be a Conn Smythe Trophy front-runner before the award was eventually given to Patrick Kane.

TSN tapped eight forwards to return for 2014, including Crosby, Toews, Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Rick Nash, and Mike Richards. Returnee Patrice Bergeron was also included as one of the surplus forwards.

TSN Hockey Analyst Dave Reid thinks that Bergeron will not be an extra piece for very long on Canada's final team.

"Even though he's in the number-five spot at centre on that list, I think he's going to quickly move up to be a huge player for Team Canada," Reid said. "He's fantastic on the draws, he can play on the power play, he can kill penalties and can play in every situation.

"He is a player that will be utilized throughout this tournament in many ways that only the players and the people within the team understand."

Another Olympic vet also made the cut, but it was a member of the 2006 team that was sent to Turin in Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis.

Rounding out the forward corps are St. Louis' Lightning line-mate Steven Stamkos, and Flyers captain Claude Giroux who would slot in on the top two lines.

The third line brings a blend of familiarity and youth to Toews' flanks with a pair of Olympic rookies: John Tavares and Patrick Sharp.

Meanwhile, the fourth line sees Richards slide over to the wing to play alongside the Ducks' duo of Getzlaf and Perry.

Jamie Benn joins Bergeron as a forward depth option on the roster.

The defence is anchored by a trio of returnees who have all been nominated for or won the Norris Trophy since the Vancouver games: Chicago's Duncan Keith, Los Angeles Kings rearguard Drew Doughty and Nashville captain Shea Weber.

All three were under the radar a year prior to the selection of the Vancouver team and they're joined by another Norris winner in Montreal blueliner P.K. Subban.

Vancouver returnee Brent Seabrook earns another Olympic engagement on TSN's list, which is rounded out by a trio of offensive-minded blueliners including Pittsburgh's Kris Letang, Rangers veteran Dan Girardi and young St. Louis blueliner Alex Pietrangelo.