Monday, July 29, 2019

Putting together Team Ontario, a roster that will crush all the other states and provinces

It’s been a week of regional rosters around these parts, as The Athletic’s hockey writers have been busy assembling the best teams they can from various states and provinces. We’ve seen Team Minnesota, billed as “a squad that will kick your ass.” That roster was immediately called out by Team Michigan. New York and New Jersey formed a joint effort, New England weighed in and Chicago went in a slightly different direction by enlisting help from Wisconsin to find a full roster. Canada got involved too, with Team British Columbia and Team Quebec. The whole thing has basically been a fun exercise in celebrating a little old-fashioned civic pride.

How adorable. Today, let’s unveil a Team Ontario that will absolutely steamroll all of them.

Call that bragging if you want, but it’s the reality. Ontario has always been the NHL’s primary source for star players. According to’s database of player birthplaces, Ontario has produced over 2,300 NHL players. That’s almost three times more than the next highest province, Quebec. It’s almost six times more than B.C., eight times more than Minnesota and over ten times more than Massachusetts or a New York/New Jersey combo.

Granted, some of that discrepancy is from the old days, when almost all of the NHL’s players were Canadians. We won’t dip into history here, since that would be downright unfair, giving a team of Ontario-born players a core of Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Ken Dryden, backed up by Phil Esposito, Newsy Lalonde, Howie Morenz, Ted Lindsay, Larry Robinson and Denis Potvin, not to mention Bobby Hull and his turncoat kid. (Yes, even Team USA mainstay Brett Hull was born in Belleville.) The only team that could match up to a historical Team Ontario would be Team Literally Everywhere Else in the World Combined, and even then I don’t think they could beat us.

So no, we’ll stick to active players as we try to build the best Team Ontario we can right now. Spoiler alert: They’re still going to be pretty good almost everywhere, with one notable exception. We’ll get to that. But first, let’s start up front, with the first of our four first lines.

First line

C Connor McDavid, Oilers (Richmond Hill, ON)
The most talented player in the world seems like a decent place to start our roster. With three straight 100-point seasons, two scoring titles, a Hart and three first-team All-Star selections, he’s had a pretty decent start to his career. Will he be scared and confused when he shows up and is told that he’s actually going to have two decent wingers to play with? Probably, but he’ll figure it out eventually.

RW Steven Stamkos, Lightning (Markham, ON)
Much like the case with Team Canada at the Olympics or World Cup, we’re going to be a little bit too deep down the middle. That means a few guys will have to shift over to the wing, although we’ll try to at least keep players on their correct side. Stamkos will slot in at right wing, just like he did during the most recent World Cup.

LW Logan Couture, Sharks (Guelph, ON)
With McDavid and Stamkos lighting up the scoreboard, we’ll give them a left winger who provides a bit of a defensive conscience. Couture only had 70 points last year, the bum, although you can add 20 more from a dominant postseason. Will our McDavid/Stamkos/Couture first line be able to break even against Team Chicago’s top unit that features (checks notes) Ryan Dzingel? It will be tough, but we think they’re up for the challenge.

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