Commentary

Canadian selections for 2010 Olympics

Updated: November 18, 2009, 9:28 AM ET
By Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun | ESPN.com

Team Canada is talent rich in all facets, but here are our picks:

Team Canada

Scott Burnside

Goalies

Martin Brodeur , New Jersey Devils

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

The skinny: After all the jawing about the Canadian goaltending situation over the past few months, it seems clear this is Martin Brodeur's job. If there is some debate, it is about who will dress as the backup and who will sit in the press box. So we ask this: Of Fleury and Luongo, who has accomplished more in his career? Who has performed better in pressure situations the past two years? Case closed. Fleury is your backup.

Defenseman

Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers

Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks

Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

The skinny: We're going to take only seven defensemen, and it's really pretty much cut and dry beyond the final spot. Many will add Calgary's big body, Robyn Regehr, but we like the symmetry of having Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook together as they anchor the Blackhawks' impressive blue line. As with the Americans, there has been some discussion about adding an eighth defender/forward like Brent Burns from Minnesota. But Burns isn't off to a great start, and it makes no sense to us to add a player who doesn't really fit in your top seven as a defender and certainly isn't among the top dozen forwards. If you wanted to go to eight pure defensemen, we'd go with Regehr or Dion Phaneuf.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
Bill Smith/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews has helped the Blackhawks become one of the NHL's elite teams.

Forwards

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks

Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks

Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

Ryan Smyth, Los Angeles Kings

Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames

Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins

The skinny: Talk about an embarrassment of riches. The challenge facing executive director Steve Yzerman isn't in finding enough talent but finding the right blend of skill and grit. In short, Yzerman has to find the kind of chemistry that eluded the Canadians four years ago in Italy when the offense dried up and they were bounced in the quarterfinals. That's why we added to Corey Perry to play with Ryan Getzlaf. In some ways, Perry replaces Jeff Carter, who had 46 goals a season ago but is off to a slower start this season, and wasn't a factor in the playoffs last spring. Yzerman has said he won't ask more than a couple of players to play out of position, which means a handful of talented centers will be denied spots on the roster. We added San Jose center Patrick Marleau but kept Joe Thornton off the list, even though both centers are off to terrific starts. In terms of character, hard to keep Jonathan Toews and Mike Richards off your team, likewise Brenden Morrow earns a spot even though his offensive numbers don't measure up to other Canadian forwards. We rewarded Ryan Smyth's terrific start in Los Angeles with a roster spot but don't think you can take all three of Morrow, Smyth and Shane Doan -- so we left Doan off. Many will ask about Steven Stamkos, who at the time of this writing had as many goals (13) as any Canadian player. But his lack of experience will hurt him as we're already leaving off talents like Eric Staal, Vincent Lecavalier, Brad Richards, Carter and Thornton. The final forward spot goes to Pittsburgh's Jordan Staal. He is one of the best defensive forwards in the game, and his play during the Stanley Cup final when he was the best forward on the ice for either team earns him a spot on our Canadian roster.


Pierre LeBrun

Goalies

Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils

Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

The skinny: Again, no surprise here given the injury to Cam Ward and the overall play of the three established goalies above. But unlike Burnside, I still give Luongo the nod over Fleury. People forget Luongo was tremendous in leading Canada to a gold medal at the 2004 world hockey championships in Prague in a hostile environment. International hockey experience counts. One guy I think who is being overlooked in all this, by the way, is veteran Marty Turco in Dallas. He's had an outstanding opening quarter of the season and also deserves consideration.

Defense

Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks

Chris Pronger, Philadelphia Flyers

Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks

Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames

Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks

The skinny: It's very difficult for me to leave off Mike Green, the man is an offensive machine, but I think there's plenty of offense in this group with less defensive risk. I struggled between Green and Bouwmeester, but in the end felt the Flames rearguard was the better overall defender. He also has a ton of international experience both at the world junior and men's worlds level. But honestly, I have a feeling when I revisit this in December I will have Green back on my roster. He's just so talented offensively. I'll keep an eye on him over the next month or so. I hate agreeing with Burnside, but I also think at this point that Seabrook is a better fit than Robyn Regehr. Honestly, though, I'd be fine with either player -- both super solid in their own end.

Forwards

Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames

Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks

Dany Heatley, San Jose Sharks

Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers

Martin St. Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning

Shane Doan, Phoenix Coyotes

Ryan Smyth, Los Angeles Kings

Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars

The skinny: I feel sick to my stomach leaving the red-hot Marleau off this squad, but as Burnside said above, it's simply mind-boggling how many quality players Team Canada has to choose from and some very good players are going to be left off. I think Burnside has lost his mind for leaving off Thornton. I still think he's among the best five centers in the entire world. He's on my team for sure. Captain Canada Ryan Smyth has been outstanding since the start of the season. And given his seven world championships and two Olympics, you have to believe his international résumé will count for something. I was looking for a mix of offense and grit in this group of 13 forwards, keeping in mind the NHL-sized ice in Vancouver. That's why I think Doan is a given for this team. Great blend of offensive and physical skill and a great leader.