Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Top 5 Tuesday: Canadians In 2014
Last week I threw out 5 guys that might be helping Team USA go for gold in the 2014 games. That was during the countries summer orientation camp. With everybody dissecting and predicting the 2010 team at Canada's 4 day event this week in Calgary, TPS will gaze down the road to the next Olympic games with 5 players who could be wearing the Maple Leaf in Russia.
5. Steve Mason-Columbus Blue Jackets
Most think Steve Mason is at Canada's summer skate to be groomed for the 2014 games, but you can bet he's not ruling out grabbing the 3rd spot for the 2010 event in Vancouver. It wouldn't be the first time Mason has exceeded expectations. In 2008 he started the WJC as Jonathan Bernier's back up before outshining the LA King prospect and leading Canada to a thrilling Gold Medal win over Sweden. He was named the tournament's top pipeman and it's MVP with a sparkling 1.19 goals against average in 5 games. This past year Mason saved the Columbus Blue Jackets playoff hopes by standing on his head when Pascal Leclaire went down with an injury. He won the Calder trophy this year and his 10 shuts outs made him a Vezina finalist.
4. Cody Hodgson-Vancouver Canucks
Hodgson was widely considered the best all around player in junior hockey last season. Before and after a terrific world junior tournament - where he led everyone in scoring - the 10th overall pick from 2008 scored 43 goals and set up 49 others in 59 games with Brampton. Whe his season was over, the CHL's Player of the Year lit the lamp twice and added 4 assists in 11 games with the Manitoba Moose as they reached the Calder Cup final in the AHL. Hodgson came close to making the Canucks last year and many think he'll do it this year, as well as challenge to get his name engraved on the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year.
3. Drew Doughty-L.A. Kings
There were some that thought Doughty could have went first overall in 2008. They weren't far off as the Kings snapped him up with the second pick, and he made an immediate impact in Hollywood. He tied for the rookie scoring lead among defenceman and his 6 goals and 27 points were second best among rearguards with the Kings. Doughty showed poise and skill in his 81 games with a Kings team that is on the rise but struggled last season.
2. Steven Stamkos-Tampa Bay Lightning
He was close to getting in invite from Hockey Canada, and could get a phone call in December if he comes flying out of the gate. Canada left of players like Sidney Crosby in 2006 because of his age, despite a terrific start to the season, and it won't happen again. After a slow start to his rookie campaign, Stamkos heated up down the stretch. He notched his first career hattrick on February 17th, and never looked back, putting up 16 goals and 8 assists in his final 26 games. The run was enough to get him on Canada's World Championship team where he produced 11 points in 9 games. He was also plus 9 in the tournament where Canada came up short in the Gold Medal game against Russia.
1. John Tavares-New York Islanders
Like fellow first overall pick Steven Stamkos, John Tavares should be ready to don the Team Canada jersey for the 2014 games in Russia. If Tavares lives up to the lofty expectations set before him, he should be scoring between 40-50 goals by the tim his 4th NHL season rolls around. A player I've compared Tavares to, Dale Hawerchuk had 53 in his 4th season, although it was a more free flowing offensive time. Still Tavares is a goal scorer and with 215 lamp lighters in junior he'll be counted on for some big time offence. Until the Olympics Tavares should get a couple of chances to suit up in the World Championship as the Islanders aren't expected to go deep in or even make the playoffs in the next few years.
A few honourable mentions go to Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, Evander Kane of the Atlanta Thrashers, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres, Karl Alzner of the Washington Capitals and David Perron of the St. Louis Blues. Have I missed someone on your list? Do I have someone that you don't? Pipe up with a comment below.