Analysis

Canadian Olympic men's hockey power rankings: Mitch Marner in, Mathew Barzal out

Between now and the team announcement, CBC Sports' Rob Pizzo will be providing you with his ongoing versions of Team Canada ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, as well as some players who are doing their best to get GM Doug Armstrong's attention.

Marner is surging, while Barzal's sinking fast

Canadian Olympic men's hockey power rankings: Ep. 5

2 months ago
Duration 3:12
No more tinkering, Rob Pizzo made some significant changes to his Team Canada blue-line. 3:12

Until we are told otherwise, NHLers will be heading to Beijing to compete at the Olympics, and sports talk in this country will centre around picking Team Canada.

Players are essentially auditioning for a spot and the rosters will change on a regular basis.

Between now and the team announcement, I'll be giving you the many versions of Team Canada, as well as some players who are doing their best to get GM Doug Armstrong to notice them.

There may be a lot of time (and hockey to be played) before the team announcement is officially made, but why wait.

I can't believe it is already December! Which means two things, I'm behind on my Christmas shopping, and we are just over two months away from puck drop for men's hockey at the Olympic Games.

In case you missed episode 4 of my power rankings, I spoke with the man in charge of putting this team together, general manager Doug Armstrong.

I was a bit surprised to hear that Zach Hyman has been on his radar even before he became an Edmonton Oiler.

Naturally, if you put him on this team, the ready-made chemistry with Connor McDavid can only be a positive.

However, I kept him on here because I believe that not only can he help offensively, he could also do some dirty work, and can be placed on any line that needs a boost. 

WATCH | Armstrong discusses Team Canada roster decisions:

Canadian Olympic men's hockey power rankings: Ep. 04 - Doug Armstrong

2 months ago
Duration 8:17
Rob Pizzo decided the time was right to speak to the man responsible for putting together Canada's Olympic hockey team. 8:17

As you will see, I only tinkered a bit with my forward roster, but pretty much overhauled the blue-line. Team Canada's defensive corps has been, (and probably will remain) a bit of a mystery right up until this team is selected. So I would definitely expect more changes. 

Teams can dress 13 forwards, 7 defencemen and 2 goalies, plus an extra player at each position.

(Reminder: Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Alex Pietrangelo have officially been named to the team) 

Forwards

First line

  • Left wing: Zach Hyman, Edm
  • Centre: Connor McDavid, Edm
  • Right wing: Nathan MacKinnon, Col

Second Line

  • LW: Brad Marchand, Bos
  • C: Sidney Crosby, Pit
  • RW: Patrice Bergeron, Bos

Third Line

  • LW: Jonathan Huberdeau, Fla
  • C: Brayden Point, TB
  • RW: Mark Stone, Vegas

Fourth Line

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

On the bubble: Steven Stamkos, TB

Mathew Barzal, and quite frankly the entire Islanders team, have been pretty brutal this season. I've done my best to stay patient, but enough is enough. Barzal is now on the outside looking in, and Mitch Marner takes his spot.

Mitch Marner of the Maple Leafs brings the puck back up ice against the Nashville Predators during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on Nov. 16, 2021 in Toronto. (Andersen/Getty Images)

Defencemen

  • Shea Theodore, Vegas-Alex Pietrangelo, Vegas
  • Adam Pelech, NYI-Cale Makar, Col 
  • Darnell Nurse, Edm-Dougie Hamilton, NJ
  • Morgan Rielly, Tor

On the bubble: Josh Morrissey, Wpg

Here come my big moves. I've decided to drop Jacob Chychrun and Aaron Ekblad. It's less about how they are playing, and more because other defenceman have been impressing me.

Even though Darnell Nurse will be out a bit with that broken finger, he has been an anchor on that Oilers' blue-line. Plus, at 6-4, 220 lbs, he brings some physicality to the back end. I've also thrown Josh Morrissey in as my extra defenceman. Team Canada should have plenty of players who can score on this blue-line, so this unit needs a stay-at-home guy who can do the dirty work. 

Goalies

  • Carey Price, Mtl
  • Marc-Andre Fleury, Chi
  • Carter Hart, Pha

I'm going to focus more on the goaltenders in my next breakdown, but my stubbornness got the best of me. I'm leaving the crease as is. 

Even though Marc-Andre Fleury has given me plenty of reasons to drop him, the fact that he is the reigning Vezina Trophy winner allows him a stay of execution.

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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