Coyte: Predicting the 2022 Canadian Olympic Roster w/ Dustin Kagan-Fleming

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Debating the 2022 Canadian men’s hockey team’s roster has been all the rage lately. TSN and The Athletic have both put out numerous takes and versions of their writers’ rosters. So now it’s our turn! It wasn’t fun enough doing this by myself, so I asked Dustin Kagan-Fleming to put together a roster as well and as usual, we disagree on a lot of things!

My write-up is a lot longer mostly because Dustin gave me 300 words (which he did) and then I went off for like 1,000.

My Team

With no offence to the 2010 and 2014 Olympic rosters, 2022 may give Team Canada the chance to field its most impressive team to date. From 2014 to 2022, only four players made it onto my roster.

Here’s my projected roster for the 2022 Canadian Olympic Team

Forwards (AKA offence only baby)

I feel like there are about 10 or so obvious choices. You’re not building a Canadian roster without McDavid, Crosby, MacKinnon, Price or Rielly.

After that things got a little tighter.

I put the team into specific lines that I feel would work best, and would explain why I included Player A instead of Player B.

First-line. I have to admit, I stole this concept from The Athletic. While I was planning on including all three of Barzal, McDavid and MacKinnon, putting them on a line to create the fastest line in hockey history is too good an opportunity to miss. Even against the stronger international teams, I can’t imagine anyone being able to shut this line down.

Second line. Why mess with the classics. All three of these players are over 30, and while I wanted my version of this team to skew a bit younger, I found it impossible to split this lineup. Crosby-Marchand-Bergeron is just too damn good. Crosby will likely sport the “C” as well. I would be pretty shocked if Canada didn’t include all six of these players, even soon-to-be 36-year-old Bergeron.

Third line. Huberdeau-Horvat-Stone offers an incredibly dangerous, puck-possession driven option for Team Canada. Huberdeau and Horvat continue to be criminally underrated offensive weapons, and Mark Stone can pick the pocket of any player in the world while making it look easy. All three of these players can score, pass and protect the puck at an elite level, so they’ll be welcomed to the roster with open arms. Horvat might be the longest shot to make it out of these nine players I’ve named so far, I like his fit within this roster. He works hard, is a great finisher and fights every shift. Can’t ask for more than that.

Fourth line. In any other scenario, this is the best line in the NHL. But on the Canadian Olympic team, I’m reserving the fourth line for some absolutely incredible offensive players. Marner-Stamkos-Point could end up being the deadliest line on this team. Marner is already one of the premier passers in the game today, Stamkos can still score goals at near-superhuman rates and Point offers the best of both worlds.

My subs are Nick Suzuki just because of the pace of his progression thus far. The other is Mark Scheifele, who is capable of playing anywhere in this lineup thanks to his versatility and hockey IQ.

Basically, this forward corps is designed to score 6 goals a night and just pin opponents in the offensive zone.

Also, I realized after I drafted the team that my forward corps is almost exactly the same as TSN’s Craig Button. The only difference is that he had O’Reilly instead of Horvat.

Defence 

I wanted to choose a group of defenders that value puck movement and mobility over anything else. With the world’s best players coming down, the best strategy in my opinion is getting the puck out of the defensive zone and to any one of Team Canada’s countless all-star forwards. This is a group that does that at an elite rate.

First pairing. Morgan Rielly is a Top-3 defenceman in the league right now alongside Victor Hedman and Roman Josi. He moves the puck with speed and efficiency and is extremely solid in his own end. Makar is one of the best young defenders and will likely win a Norris in the next 5 years. Pair them together for an incredibly mobile and versatile first pairing.

Second pairing. Theodore and Girard don’t get the love they deserve. At least Theodore made it onto most of the projected rosters I came across. Girard’s skating is what put him on my Team Canada. But also mostly I like watching defenders that are fun, and both these guys are fun.

The third pairing went to Chabot and Parayko. Chabot is a minute-muncher with (notice a theme here?) great mobility and passing ability. Parayko was forced to take on added defensive responsibility after Pietrangelo joined the Golden Knights this offseason. He gets shots on the net at an incredible rate and is the closest thing to a defensive-defenceman this team has because frankly, they just don’t need one. Pretty tough to lose games when you’re third pairing defenders can go end-to-end and still stop incoming attackers consistently.

I chose Devon Toews as the only Toews on my roster because I just think he’s excellent and deserves a lot more recognition. Doesn’t make many mistakes, moves the puck well and has experience playing with MacKinnon, Makar and Girard.

The Snubs

Sorry to John Tavares, the most notable player left off my team. I just couldn’t find a spot where I liked him as a centre more than my current four. Although it’s likely that in reality, he’ll bump Horvat from his spot. Other snubs include Ryan O’Reilly, who is one of the best 2-way, hard-nosed, centres in the game today. I just feel like, with a roster this packed, I wanted to maximize offensive star power and he gets edged out ever so slightly in that regard.

Dougie Hamilton and Alex Pietrangelo didn’t make the cut for my team, and that’s more out of a desire to offer a different look on defence than anything else. In all likelihood, one or both of these players will be on the team, but I liked my choices enough to justify leaving them off.

Sorry Jordan Binnington, but objectively MacKenzie Blackwood is a more reliable goalie for that third spot.

Matthew Coyte – @matthew_coyte

Dustin’s Team

Ok, I battled with a few people on this one. Leaving Patrice Bergeron off was a tough, tough call and in the end, I had to break up that top line. I feel like Mark Stone playing with Crosby and Marchand is the perfect cheat code. No one else gets to touch the puck against them. 

Two of the choices I added were more about building for the future. Nick Suzuki and Carter Hart are guys that will be playing major roles for Canada sooner than later, so may as well get them the experience now.

Let’s get one thing straight, this is my pick for the team, not what I think Canada will end up doing. Far too many young, exciting faces here for their liking. No Drew Doughty? Only 3 forwards of 30 or over? Blasphemy.

This group brings so much speed, and all-around play. I’ve said it in episodes before this, I love guys who can do it all. That’s what this roster represents from top to bottom at both ends.

Defensively, you’ve got pairings that can cause nightmares for opposing teams in terms of shutdown play while also driving the attack with the ferocity of an oilers fan seeing how good McDavid looks with more than one good teammate.

Follow Dustin @DustinKFleming

To Recap

Overall, we both had very similar takes on what this roster would look like. On forward, the only differences we had were Horvat and Bergeron / Couturier and O’Reilly. The defence we hit a bigger gap. Dustin included established and steady defenders in Weber, Ellis, Hamilton and Pietrangelo, while I opted for younger options in Girard, Theodore, Parayko and Chabot. All great options honestly. Our goalies were identical, and neither included Binnington, so I would call that a collective win for The Nosebleeds team!

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