As promised, here is an educated guess at what the rosters might look like for the 2010 Winter Olympics for the top seven countries (with a bonus eighth team at the end). Obviously there is another 1½ NHL seasons between now and then. Players could emerge/fall apart, so there is some projection involved here.
To me, there are few events in sports better than the hockey at the Olympics. If the NHL could continue some of the momentum it is creating with better TV ratings in this Cup final, I think the Winter Olympics could be a great platform for elevating the sport. It should be a chance for guys like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane to lead their countries with the world watching.
And, for the record, there are eight current Washington Capitals properties on this list.
Chris Pronger- Brian Campbell
Dion Phaneuf-Mike Green
Brent Seabrook-Jay Bouwmeester
Dany Heatley-Sidney Crosby-Jarome Iginla
Rick Nash-Vincent Lecavalier-Ryan Getzlaf
Brendan Morrow-Joe Thornton-Shane Doan
Jonathan Toews-Jordan Staal -Mike Richards
Jason Spezza-Brad Richards
Analysis: This is obviously like trying to pick an all-star team. There are going to be plenty of great players left out. The most controversial guy here is probably Jordan Staal instead of say, his older brother Eric or a national team regular like Ryan Smyth. This is a projection, and it says here Staal could be the top shutdown center in the league by 2010. Canada doesn’t always take the 12 most-skilled players. As always, the Canadians should be considered the favorite, especially on home ice.
Sergei Gonchar-Andrei Markov
Anton Volchenkov-Fedor Tyutin
Dmitri Kalinin-Dennis Grebeshkov
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeni Malkin-Alex Kovalev
Ilya Kovalchuk-Pavel Datsyuk-Alexander Radulov
Alexander Semin-Alexei Yashin-Nikolai Zherdev
Alexander Frolov-Sergei Fedorov-Alexei Morozov
Maxim Afinogenov-Sergei Mozyakin
Analysis: Take another look at those top two lines. That is frightening. The Russians are likely to be a little light on defense (not sure if Zubov will still be playing, but this event could be the swan song for a few guys), but Nabokov and the ridiculous talent up front should help mask that. Clearly a favorite to medal and a top challenger to Canada, if not the overall favorite. Clearly the Russians have shown they can handle the Canadians on their home soil.
Nicklas Lidstrom-Niklas Kronwall
Nichlas Havelid-Tobias Enstrom
Alex Edler-Mattias Ohlund
Henrik Zetterberg-Nicklas Backstrom-Daniel Alfredsson
Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Loui Eriksson
Johan Franzen-Mats Sundin-Tomas Holmstrom
Fabian Brunnstrom-Samuel Pahlsson-Kristian Huselius
Patrik Berglund-Tony Martensson
Analysis: Sweden has had plenty of success in international tournaments recently and should be considered a favorite to medal in Vancouver. It is weird to see the differences between Sweden and the Czech Republic - the Swedes have a bountiful number of centers to choose from while the Czechs are loaded on the wing but thin up the middle. Notice those defense pairings (all three are teammates) weren’t by accident. After watching Hedman at the WJC this year, he certainly looks like the real deal.
Mike Komisarek-Erik Johnson
Ryan Whitney- Paul Martin
Tom Gilbert-Jack Johnson
Zach Parise-Scott Gomez-Christopher Higgins
Peter Mueller-Patrick Kane-Dustin Brown
Ryan Malone- Paul Stastny -Jason Pominville
R.J. Umberger-Chris Drury-Phil Kessel
Erik Cole-Matt Cullen
Analysis: The recent wave of American kids in the NHL draft will start to show up on this team, but would be more prevalent in 2014 (though NHL players may not play in those games). Still, the changing of the guard that started with the past two world championships will be complete by 2010. Gone will be the names that have dominated USA hockey for more than a decade. There will be plenty of youth on this team, which hasn’t led to medals the past two years but could still make the Americans dangerous.
Tomas Kaberle-Michal Rozsival
Marek Zidlicky-Rostislav Klesla
Jaroslav Spacek-Zbynek Michalek
Tomas Plekanec-Patrick Elias-Petr Sykora
Ales Hemsky-Martin Straka-Jaromir Jagr
Milan Hejduk-Vinny Prospal-Milan Michalek
Martin Havlat -Jiri Hudler-Martin Erat
Ales Kotalik-Jakub Voracek
Analysis: The Czechs are, much like the Americans, at a bit of a crossroads. Guys like Dominik Hasek and Jaromir Jagr have carried the country’s entries for years, but it will be time for new heroes to emerge. For this tournament, the Czechs appear to be a solid team that would probably need to spring an upset in the quarterfinals to play for a medal. As I mentioned before, they are thin at center. Voracek is a guy who could move up this depth chart pretty easily.
Kimmo Timonen-Joni Pitkanen
Toni Lydman-Sami Salo
Lasse Kukkonen-Sami Lepisto
Niklas Hagman-Olli Jokinen-Jussi Jokinen
Tuomo Ruutu-Mikko Koivu-Jere Lehtinen
Sean Bergenheim-Saku Koivu-Antti Miettinen
Antti Pihlstrom -Valtteri Fillpula-Niko Kapenen
Sami Kapenen-Jarkko Ruutu
Analysis: Finland’s goaltending factory continues to produce young netminders, and either Kiprusoff or Backstrom could carry this team to a medal, but this roster doesn’t quite stack up with the other superpowers.
Zdeno Chara-Andrej Meszaros
Lubomir Visnovsky-Branislav Mezei
Milan Jurcina-Andrej Sekera
Miroslav Satan-Pavol Demitra-Marian Gaborik
Ladislav Nagy-Michal Handzus-Marian Hossa
Marcel Hossa-Tomas Kopecky-Marek Svatos
Juraj Kolnik-Jozef Stumpel-Branko Radivojevic
Analysis: Slovakia has never had the depth of the other major hockey-playing countries, but many of its star players are aging and there isn’t much young NHL talent to replace them. This team would still have electric offensive players like Gaborik and Hossa, but the long-term outlook isn’t good for the Slovakians.
BONUS: CANADA ‘B’
How ridiculous is the depth north of the border? Here is a look at what a second entry from Canada would look like. Could this group win a medal? Probably.
Robyn Regehr-Brent Burns
Braydon Coburn -Duncan Keith
Shea Weber-Dan Hamhuis
Ryan Smyth -Eric Staal-Martin St. Louis
Mike Riberio-Danny Briere-Jeff Carter
Derek Roy-Patrick Marleau-Corey Perry
Mike Fisher-John Madden-Nathan Horton
Sam Gagner-Steven Stamkos