Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Filling out a World Cup roster for Team Canada’s B-Team

We’ve spent the last week or so on this site having some fun with the World Cup. Or rather, with the lack of a World Cup, since the NHL in its infinite wisdom has apparently decided that hockey fans don’t want to see best-on-best tournaments anymore. We’re not so sure about that, so we’ve been coming up with our best guess at what the various rosters would look like if the World Cup were revived.

That’s always a fun exercise for any country. But it gets especially interesting for Team Canada because the country continues to produce more talent than anyone else. No matter who you pick for a roster, you’re going to end up leaving out a bunch of stars who’d be easy picks for pretty much any other team in the tournament. Sometimes, it feels like Canada could do pretty well with a second entry.

So let’s do that. We’ll scratch off all the names that wound up on Eric Duhatschek’s Team Canada entry, and see what we can do with the rest of the options. Call it the Canadian B-Team.

We’ve still got plenty of talent to choose from, and we should be able to put together a decent team. More than decent, actually. In fact, it’s tempting to wonder: With some savvy picks, can we build a roster that’s good enough to give the real Team Canada a run for its money?

No. No, we cannot. That team has Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. It has Mitch Marner on the fourth line. It has the reigning Norris winner on the third pairing. They’re good.

But can we build a Canadian B-team that could give some of the other countries in the tournament a run for their money? I think we can. Let’s find out.


I admit that I was hoping Eric would get cocky (or maybe just have a senior moment) and leave McDavid off of his list. No such luck. In fact, Canada A snaps up the three leading Canadian-born scorers since the start of the 2017-18 season in McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and (believe it or not) Brad Marchand.

But somewhat surprisingly, the next three leading scorers are all available, so we’ll happily build our first line around Steven Stamkos, Claude Giroux and Jonathan Huberdeau. That’s a solid start. Stamkos is a decorated veteran of international best-on-best, and we’ll make him team captain. Huberdeau is on his way to his second straight 90-point season and is still in his prime; he might be one of the most underrated offensive stars in the league right now. And Giroux is a talented scorer who gives us some versatility because he can play multiple positions. Plus picking him keeps my chimney dry.

We’ll build our second line around a pair of teammates from Dallas, as Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn form two-thirds of a decent unit. Neither one is dominating this year, and Benn’s actually been pretty disappointing. But it speaks to the strength of Team Canada that he’s even here, since I can’t imagine too many other countries would be slotting a recent Art Ross winner onto the B-Team’s second line. We’ll make this an all-Central unit by adding Matt Duchene, who suited up for Canada at both the 2016 World Cup and 2014 Olympics.

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