With the Vancouver Olympics and the most-anticipated hockey tournament in years just over a year away, it's getting to be time to think about who's going to be on Canada's roster. I've included the age they'll be in 2010 and their stats in the 2008-09 season.
Jarome Iginla - 32 - 20gp, 11g, 12a, 23pts
He wore an 'A' in 2006 and looks to be the leading candidate to take over Sakic's 'C' in Vancouver. At 39, it's unlikely Sakic will make the team given our depth at centre.
Vincent Lecavalier - 29 - 19, 9, 6, 15
Last time around, Vinny was a good player. This time, he's coming off 50-goal and 40-goal performances the last two years. We'll see if he maintains his high level until 2010.
Joe Thornton - 30 - 20, 4, 16, 20
He scores 90 points like clockwork. His high assist totals will tempt the coaching staff to play him, not Crosby on a first line with Iginla.
Dany Heatley - 29 - 19, 11, 8, 19
I'm not a Pierre Maguire fan, but I have to call this guy a monster.
Jason Spezza - 26 - 19, 6, 9, 15
Off to a slow start this year but you know he'll be there. Question is, who lines up with him and Heatley?
Rick Nash - 25 - 19, 9, 8, 17
His stats consistently underrate him because of a lack of supporting cast. He played with Joe Thornton at HC Davos during the lockout- they'd be a great fit if paired together.
Simon Gagne - 29 - 17, 11, 12, 23
Gagne has been inconsistent and injured much of the time since Torino. He's been a force this year. Picking him with Mike Richards makes a lot of sense.
Eric Staal - 25 - 20, 8, 5, 13
Staal has proven the hot start in 05-06 that got him picked as an Olympic reserve was no fluke. At 24, he hasn't peaked yet. He could easily be the surprise star of the tournament.
Shane Doan - 33 - 18, 11, 8, 19
His World Championship leadership got him extra attention and a spot in 2006. This time around, he's coming off his best season of his career and is off to a hot start despite being 32. He'll make the team unless his play deteriorates.
Those are the Olympic incumbents that look to have spots locked up for 2010: 4 centres and 5 wingers.
Who from 2006's team is less likely to make it?
Todd Bertuzzi - he's a fraction of the force he was at the time. Unlikely to be considered.
Kris Draper - didn't embarass himself in Torino as the token defensive forward, but he's too old.
Brad Richards - Magically transformed from one of the league's premier two-way talents into a liability in the last two years. He's young enough that he may get back his Conn Smythe form, but at this point he's on the outside looking in.
Joe Sakic - He'll be 39. Amazingly, his speed hasn't deserted him, nor has his shot. Nevertheless, injuries have cost him a lot of games recently and he may be retired by the time the tournament begins.
Ryan Smyth - His consistent service earned him his spot in 2006. By 2010, his skills will be lacking.
Martin St. Louis - He looks like he's slipping. His point total fell off last year and may fall further this year. He'll be 34 by tournament time and doesn't offer much beyond the point totals.
Sidney Crosby - 22 - 20 gp, 7g, 18a, 25p
There was discussion in 2006 of whether Crosby might be to play for Team Canada at just 18. His skill was never in question; now there are no questions about his maturity.
Marc Savard - 32 - 20, 8, 19, 27
Because he was a late bloomer, has only played in the playoffs once and missed a lot of games early in his career, Savard doesn't get noticed as much despite being a regular top scorer in the last few years. His point totals are too much to ignore - a spot must be found for him.
Ryan Getzlaf - 24 - 20, 8, 17, 25
He's still getting better. Don't let the baldness fool you - he hasn't peaked yet.
That's 12. 7 centres and 5 wingers, so some of the centres will have to move to the wing. The discussion doesn't end here, though: Canada has an incredible number of players who merit a spot. Of those I've listed above, most aren't guaranteed spots. Doan, Thornton, Spezza and others could miss out if they hit a slump.
The top Alternatives:
Paul Stastny - 24
He has emerged as a bona fide star in Denver and will force a tough decision for the coaches. How can a point-a-game centre be ignored?
Corey Perry - 24
He hasn't got much time to push onto the team, but he's got the talent. He's one of the NHL's leading scorers this year and would be attractive paired with Getzlaf.
Mike Richards - 24
He has really stormed onto the scene and, like, Stastny, scores a point a game. He has starred in the playoffs and would appear to be an excellent inclusion. But in whose place?
Patrick Sharp - 27
His talent is big even if his track record's not. He may force the coaches to consider him if he can continue to score.
Jonathan Toews - 21
There seems little doubt he's got the ability to be a core player for the 2014 team. Will he be ready in time for 2010?
Jay Bouwmeester - 26 - 19, 0, 8, 8
He's a lock to make it because of his age in a group that's getting old. He's not the best, but he's very solid.
Chris Pronger - 35 - 21, 4, 10, 14
He's not what he once was, but he's close. An oldie but a goodie.
Not coming back:
Wade Redden - There's nothing wrong with him, but too many better guys have emerged.
Robyn Regehr - He'll be 29 but his presence has faded.
Bryan McCabe -He's going to be 34. His offense is past its prime and his defense sucks.
Adam Foote - He'll be 38. Not in the picture.
Rob Blake - He'll be 40. No chance.
Dion Phaneuf - 24 - 20, 3, 10, 13
He has made himself the best defenseman in the NHL and will be crucial to the team's success in 2010 if he can neutralize top opposing forwards.
Shea Weber - 24 - 19, 8, 10, 18
Arguably now the league's top offensive d-man. His presence on the power play is a no-doubter.
Duncan Keith - 26 - 18, 2, 5, 7
Bet you didn't know that Keith is 3rd in the NHL in ice time. He's a rock and was a +30 last year on a team that missed the playoffs.
Brian Campbell - 30 - 18, 4, 10, 14
His skill and skating will look great on the big ice.
Mike Green - 24 - 18, 7, 9, 16
Playing in Washington has kept him out of the limelight but this guy is the real deal. His talent is huge.
Willie Mitchell? Sheldon Souray? Kevin Bieksa? Keith Ballard? There are a lot of possibilities.
Roberto Luongo - 30 - 11-5-2, 2.17, .928
Has to be considered the current leader for the job.
Martin Brodeur - 37 - 6-2-2, 2.16, .916
Still going, but his age will make Luongo preferred.
Carey Price - 22 - 9-4-1, 2.51, .920
He'll be the goalie favourite for 2014, but Luongo has to falter for him to get the job.