When you look at the international hockey picture, there is only one conclusion: Team Canada is the team to beat. They have won three of the past four Olympic gold medals, and they won the most recent World Cup of Hockey title. Even before rosters are selected for the World Cup of Hockey in September 2016, Team Canada is the favorite to walk away with the championship trophy.
Mike Babcock, current head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, was recently named head coach for Team Canada at the upcoming World Cup, which should come as no surprise. Babcock is the only member of the Triple Gold Club. He earned it by coaching Team Canada to the 2004 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship, the 2008 Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup, and Team Canada to Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014.
Joining Babcock behind the bench will be Claude Julien of the Boston Bruins, Barry Trotz of the Washington Capitals, Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Bill Peters of the Carolina Hurricanes. The team’s general manager is Doug Armstrong of the St. Louis Blues.
With a large number of players from the 2010 and 2014 gold medal-winning teams still competing, Team Canada won’t have to think too hard about who should make the roster for the World Cup. The toughest job the management team will face is who from those winning teams will be left off the roster and replaced with new blood. Here we project the players that will make the cut for Team Canada and take the ice in September 2016.
Sidney Crosby: Crosby has not had the best start to the 2015-16 season, scoring only nine points (2G, 7A) in 17 games, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be left off the 2016 World Cup roster. No player has scored more than the 197 points (66G, 131A) that Crosby has earned over the last three seasons. Crosby played on both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic teams, scoring the gold medal-winning goal in 2010, and captaining the 2014 team. The first round center spot is his to lose. (He won’t lose it.)
Ryan Getzlaf: Like Crosby, Getzlaf was a member of the 2010 and 2014 Olympic teams. Like Crosby, he is also experiencing a bad start to this season, and like Crosby, he will be on the 2016 World Cup team. Over the last three seasons, Getzlaf has scored 162 points (56G, 106A). Expect him to be paired with Anaheim Ducks teammate Corey Perry.
John Tavares: Tavares was in the running for the 2014-15 NHL scoring title. This season he picked up where he left off, scoring almost a point per game. He’ll be on the World Cup team, and the hope is that he will not suffer an injury like he did during the 2014 Olympics, when he blew out his MCL. Over the last three seasons, he has put up 166 points (69G, 97A)
Jonathan Toews: The man who captained the Blackhawks to three Stanley Cup championships has played on the last two Canadian Olympic teams as well. He will make the 2016 World Cup squad and will probably battle Crosby for the title of team captain. Toews’ point total over the last three seasons is 145 (61G, 84A). His credentials also include a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Selke Trophy.
Jeff Carter: Carter will be a good “off the bench” player for Team Canada. A member of the 2014 Olympic team, and two-time winner of the Stanley Cup in Los Angeles, he knows how to deal with high-pressure situations, and he’s scored 129 points over the last three seasons (62G, 67A). Carter has also been a point per game player for the Kings early this season.
Jamie Benn: Benn won the NHL scoring title in 2014-15 and it looks like he will be in the running to do so again this year. He played well on the 2014 Olympic squad, and he’ll be a lock for the 2016 World Cup team. Benn’s point total over the last three seasons, 191 (81G, 110A), is second only to Crosby’s 197.
Claude Giroux: After Giroux was passed over for the 2014 Olympic team, he finished the season as a nominee for the Hart Trophy. With 170 points (58G, 112A) over the last three seasons, there’s no way Giroux will be left off the World Cup roster.
Taylor Hall: Since joining the NHL during the 2010-11 season, Hall has averaged .89 points per game. Early in the 2015-16 season he is producing above that average, scoring 20 points in 18 games. If he can stay healthy, he should make the World Cup squad.
Rick Nash: Nash is another player who was a member of the 2010 and 2014 Olympic squads. Nash may be older than most players projected to make the 2016 World Cup team, but that doesn’t mean he can’t produce. Last season he finished third in goal scoring, behind only Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos. On a team loaded with talent, that scoring touch will come in handy.
Patrice Bergeron: When you can add a player like Bergeron to your roster, you do it. Bergeron’s play is strong at both ends of the ice, and he usually plays against the opposition’s best players. If you need proof of his strength, look at his three Selke trophies. He was also a member of the 2010 and 2014 Olympic teams.
Corey Perry: If Getzlaf is on the World Cup roster, you best believe his Anaheim Ducks teammate, Perry, a member of the last two Olympic teams, will also be on the team. Perry is a goal scorer, racking up 81 over the past three seasons, ranking him sixth over that period.
Tyler Seguin: Team Canada will want to team Seguin up with his Dallas Stars teammate Benn. The two are scoring machines. Last season Benn led the league with 87 points while Seguin came in at No. 7 with 77. This season they are two of the top three in scoring.
Steven Stamkos: Stamkos was kept off the 2014 Olympic team due to injury. That will be the only way he doesn’t make the 2016 World Cup team. Over the past three seasons, only six players have scored more goals than Stamkos, who has potted 77.
Drew Doughty: Over the past three seasons, Drew Doughty has finished in the top 10 in Norris Trophy voting. Last season he was the runner-up for the award. Individual awards may have escaped Doughty, but team awards have not. He has two Olympic gold medals and two Stanley Cup rings.
Mark Giordano: Giordano has taken the long road to NHL stardom. He made his NHL debut in 2005-06 and flew under the radar, developing his skills for the next few years. He had a breakout year last season, and looked to be on his way to the Norris Trophy, but an injury that limited him to 61 games kept him from winning the award. Barring another injury, he should make the World Cup roster.
Duncan Keith: Keith is another player that was on both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic gold medal winning teams. He’s also a three-time Stanley Cup winner and last season’s playoff MVP. Keith also has two Norris Trophy wins to his name. If you need any more reasons for him to make the World Cup roster, he is seventh in defenseman scoring over the last three seasons with 109 points (16G, 93A) and ninth in plus/minus at +34.
Kris Letang: Letang has been limited to 123 games over the last three seasons, yet he has managed to score 84 points in that time (23G, 61A), which puts him at No. 26 in points, but when adjusted to points per game, he rockets up to No. 7 among defensemen. He also has one Stanley Cup to his name. A two-way threat, he should be on the World Cup club.
P.K. Subban: Subban should be a lock for the World Cup team. He’s second in the NHL in defenseman scoring over the last three years with 129 points (26G, 103A). The only player with more points than him is last season’s Norris Trophy winner, Erik Karlsson. Subban played at the 2014 Olympics, but he was limited to one game. Expect him to be on the ice for each of Canada’s 2016 World Cup games.
Brent Burns: If you’re going to have the No. 2 scoring defenseman on the team, you might as well put the No. 3 scoring defenseman on the team as well. Brent Burns is that player. Over the last three years, Burns has scored 120 points (44G, 76A). Burns may not have the individual or team accolades of some of the other players that will make the World Cup team, but he should be on the squad, even if it is as the seventh defenseman.
Shea Weber: Weber is another one of those players who was on the 2010 and 2014 Olympic teams. The veteran blue liner had one of his worst statistical seasons last year, and he’s not on pace to break any records this season either, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be on the World Cup team. Despite his drop-off last year, Weber still sits at No. 5 in defenseman scoring over the last three seasons with 110 points (43G, 67A).
Carey Price: The only way Carey Price doesn’t grab the starting goaltender job for the 2016 World Cup is if he is injured. Price’s save percentage over the last three seasons is .931. His win total is 85 over the last three years. He has 17 shutouts over that time span and his goals against average is 2.12. The one thing these numbers have in common is that they all lead the NHL for goalies with more than 50 games played over three seasons. Also, last season Price took home the following hardware: William M. Jennings Trophy, Vezina Trophy, Ted Lindsay Award, and Hart Trophy. Oh, and he was the gold medal-winning goaltender at the 2014 Olympics. He’s a lock for the World Cup team.
Braden Holtby: Last season proved that Holtby is ready for primetime. He played in a remarkable 73 regular season games and won 41 of those, finishing second to Price’s 44, he also tied Price for second in shutouts with nine. His play has been strong this season as well, as his record stands at 9-4-0. He may be younger than a lot of the other goalies on Team Canada’s radar, but he is more than ready to represent the country.
Marc-Andre Fleury: Fleury should make the club, but he will be the third goalie. He probably won’t be needed, but if he is the veteran will be able to handle himself well, especially since he won’t be forced to carry the team. Over the last three seasons, Fleury is third in goalie wins with 81.