With the additions of Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp, this year’s Canadian entry at the World Championships is shaping up to be one of the strongest we’ve seen recently. Given how Canada has fared the last few years at the Worlds, that’s a very good thing.
After winning the silver in 2009, it has been difficult for Canada to win at the Worlds. In 2010, the Canadians finished seventh in the tournament, ahead of all the traditional hockey powers (except the Americans, who finished 13th) as well as Germany and Switzerland. Their showing in 2011 was a little better; that team finished fifth.
Here are the skaters named to date, along with their career performance at the World Championships and a listing of their international experience:
|John Tavares||C||14||12||4||16||3 other tourneys|
|Ryan Getzlaf||C||9||3||11||14||5 other tourneys|
|Dion Phaneuf||D||14||0||11||11||2004 WJC, 2005 WJC|
|Jay Bouwmeester||D||27||5||5||10||5 other tourneys|
|Jordan Eberle||RW||11||5||3||8||3 other tourneys|
|Corey Perry||RW||7||2||4||6||2005 WJC, 2010 Oly.|
|Evander Kane||LW||14||2||4||6||2009 WJC, 2008 U-17|
|Jeff Skinner||RW||7||3||3||6||2009 U-17|
|Duncan Keith||D||9||0||2||2||2010 Oly.|
|Luke Schenn||D||16||0||2||2||3 other tourneys|
|Andrew Ladd||LW||7||0||0||0||2005 WJC|
|Jamie Benn||LW||—||—||—||—||2009 WJC|
|Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||C||—||—||—||—||2010 U-17|
|Ryan O’Reilly||C||—||—||—||—||2009 U-18, 2008 U-17|
|P.K. Subban||D||—||—||—||—||2008 WJC, 2009 WJC|
In net, both Cam Ward and Devan Dubnyk are back for their third World Championship; Ward has played 10 games in two previous tournaments for the Canadians, while Dubnyk played a few minutes last year (he’s been the third-string goalie in two previous appearances).
It’s a very strong group up front . At centre, Ryan Getzlaf and John Tavares provide a strong 1-2 punch; both have excelled in previous appearances. Behind them, Ryan O’Reilly will almost certainly centre the checking line in his first appearance at the tourney, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems a likely candidate for the fourth-line role.
On right wing, Corey Perry and Jeff Skinner have both played in the tournament once before, while this is Jordan Eberle’s third tournament and likely the first where he’ll earn one of the team’s top jobs. Newfoundland’s Teddy Purcell is making his first appearance for Canada at any major tournament.
At left wing, Jamie Benn is appearing in his first World Championships; he’ll join recently announced returnee Patrick Sharp and two Winnipeg Jets wingers in Evander Kane and Andrew Ladd. Like Eberle, Kane is hoping to play more of a feature role this time around.
P.K. Subban is the lone player on the blue-line appearing in his first World Championships. He’ll likely play a top-four role along with veterans Duncan Keith, Jay Bouwmeester and Dion Phaneuf. Behind that quartet are defensive rearguards Luke Schenn and Marc Methot.
The Canadians can now ice a full lineup, though there are a couple of spots left for late additions to the team. There are a number of intriguing options who may see their seasons end in the next few days; one wonders if Patrice Bergeron (who was brilliant in 2006 when he last played in the World Championships) would accept an invite should Washington eliminate the Boston Bruins.
Regardless of who fills the remaining spots, the team assembled by Kevin Lowe and the rest of Hockey Canada’s management group should contend for gold this spring.