NHL·Analysis

Canadian Olympic men's hockey power rankings: First impressions

Now that we know the NHL will be heading to Beijing to compete at the Olympics, sports talk in this country will centre around picking Team Canada. Between now and the team announcement, Rob Pizzo will be giving you the many versions of his Canadian men's hockey team.

Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid, Alex Pietrangelo named to team on Monday

There is little doubt Connor McDavid, picturing competing at the 2016 World Cup, will centre Canada's top line at the Beijing Olympics. (Jacques Boissinot)

Now that we know the NHL will be heading to Beijing to compete at the Olympics, sports talk in this country will centre around picking Team Canada.

And with the NHL season set to start Oct. 12, players are essentially auditioning for a spot and the prospective roster will change on a regular basis. 

For starters, Canadian GM Doug Armstrong announcement Monday that Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo have been selected to Hockey Canada's initial 2022 Olympic roster.  

Between now and the team announcement, Rob Pizzo will offer the many versions of his Team Canada, as well as some players who are doing their best to get GM Doug Armstrong and coach Jon Cooper to notice them. Teams can dress 13 forwards, seven defencemen and two goalies (plus an extra player at each position).

WATCH | Rob Pizzo breaks down his current version of Team Canada:

Canadian Olympic men's hockey power rankings: Ep. 1

16 days ago
4:10
The NHL season is now in part a tryout for various Olympic teams. Rob Pizzo breaks down his current version of Team Canada. 4:10

Forwards

First line
Left wing: Jonathan Huberdeau, Fla

His numbers (and physicality) over the last two years have not only put him on the Team Canada map, but also given him first-line potential.

Centre: Connor McDavid, Edm

He could have two broken legs and I'm still putting him on the team, and obviously Armstrong agrees. 

Right wing: Nathan Mackinnon, Col

As close to a mortal lock as you can get.

Second Line

(LW: Brad Marchand, Bos; C: Sidney Crosby, Pit; RW: Patrice Bergeron, Bos)

After these three dominated together at the World Cup, Jon Cooper should not mess with a good thing.

Sidney Crosby helped lead Canada to two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

Third Line

(LW: Mathew Barzal, NYI; C: Brayden Point, TB; RW: Mark Stone, Vegas)

Brayden Point has led the playoffs in goals over the last two years. Barzal has averaged 72 points over his first four seasons and Stone was one of the best defensive forwards in the game. Not a bad third line.

Fourth Line

(LW: Ryan O'Reilly, StL; C: Mark Scheifele, Wpg; RW: Mitch Marner, Tor)

Just looking at this "fourth line" should not only make you laugh, but point to Team Canada's depth at forward. What other country can put a Conn Smyth Trophy winner (O'Reilly) this far down on its depth chart?

On the bubble: Steven Stamkos, TB

Back-to-back Cup champ, and missed out on the 2014 Games because of an injury.

Defencemen

(Jakob Chychrun, Ari-Cale Makar, Col; Shea Theodore, Vegas-Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas; Adam Pelech, NYI-Aaron Ekblad, Fla; On the bubble: Morgan Rielly, Tor; Dougie Hamilton, NJ)

When you look at the possible blue line, things are a little tougher to pick. The average age of the players above is just 26, and there is a serious lack of international "best-on-best" experience.

Goalies

Carey Price, Mtl

Single-handedly led the Habs to the Stanley Cup final.

Marc-Andre Fleury, Chi

Reigning Vezina trophy winner.

Carter Hart, Pha

Has to look better than he did last season, but could be a good chance to give him some Team Canada experience for future tournaments.

Outside looking in

Taylor Hall, Bos

A Hart Trophy winner who is now on a Bruins team that could allow him to put up some big numbers. 

John Tavares, Tor

There are times when Tavares earns every bit of his salary, and then there are times when I barely notice him in a game. 

Sean Couturier, Pha

Lots of international experience playing for Canada, but this is a tough roster to crack. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rob Pizzo has been a reporter for CBC Sports based out of Toronto since 2013. He has covered the NHL for Hockey Night in Canada, CBC, and was rinkside at the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.

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