It's been about a year since we first discussed the best Team Canada lineup in this space...let's see how things look now, shall we?
Sidney Crosby, C. Sid has been considered a lock all the way and has been nothing but superb this year with 36P in 29 games, good for third in the NHL. He's in.
Joe Thornton, C. Joe was considered a question mark last year as there was some suspicion he was past his prime. Not quite - he's leading the league with 40 points thanks to his new linemate Dany Heatley. While we're on the topic:
Dany Heatley, LW. Heatley had an off-year last season but was still considered a near-lock to make the team as one of the best pure scorers around. Tied for fifth in the league with 33 points, he's in.
Patrick Marleau, C/RW. Getting a little ahead of ourselves? Not quite. Marleau is one of the men tied with Heatley for fifth in scoring. Though he lacks the same track record, Canada's management will recognize the value of keeping this line intact at the Olympics.
Jarome Iginla, RW. Iggy is having another nice year and has 17 goals already for Calgary. Expect him to line up with Crosby on the first line.
Rick Nash, LW. Nash is a good fit to play on the top line with Iginla and Crosby. He has continued to improve this year and could be a dominant force at the Olympic tournament.
Ryan Getzlaf, C. Getzlaf was a force last season and hasn't missed a beat this year. He'll be picked, in large part because Yzerman will want to pair him up with another Canada Juniors alumnus:
Corey Perry, RW. Perry was good in the last couple years - at age 24, he is now awesome. Tied for 5th in league scoring, Corey will be matched up with Getz and:
Steven Stamkos, C/W. Stamkos gets this spot because, as much as it would be nice to pair him with St. Louis and Lecavalier, the other scorers on the roster have been better. Meanwhile, the fourth line needs to be the checking line, if you can call it that:
Mike Richards, C. It hasn't been a pretty season in Philadelphia, but that doesn't change the fact that one of Canada's best two-way forwards needs to be on the roster for line-matching and PK purposes. He'll be on the first unit with teammate:
Jeff Carter, C/W. Carter has been merely good in '09-'10 after scoring at will last season. He'll be there.
Ryan Smyth, LW. His game isn't pretty in any way, but he's off to a nice start and has paid his dues. So long as he comes back from his injury, he's got a claim to be in the starting lineup.
Shane Doan, RW: Another solid two-way player who has paid his dues. The only thing keeping him on the outside looking in are his merely good scoring skills. A top choice as injury fill-in.
Martin St. Louis, RW: He would make a nice offensive tandem with Stamkos but doesn't offer much beyond that. He's out.
Jordan Staal, C. PK specialist with legitimate scoring chops to boot. Keep in mind that Canada does have options after Carter and Richards; Nash and Marleau would make a very acceptable second PK unit. He could get into games as a PK-only player.
There are of course a dozen or so others in the conversation. Some players who looked like they had very good chances to make it - Lecavalier, Eric Staal and Toews haven't done enough to justify ranking them in the starting lineup.
Very little has changed in the D picture. Though several of the challengers for spots have fallen off the pace, the top guys are still there:
Mike Green. The Washington Capital has only cemented his place with a point-a-game pace thus far. He's in, without a doubt.
Dan Boyle. You can't have too many Sharks, it seems. Boyle is an easy pick and would fit right in with the Thornton/Heatley/Marleau unit on the power play.
Duncan Keith. Keith was touted in this space as a probable key Dman on the team. He plays huge minutes in Chicago and is a top-flight defensive player in addition to being a scoring threat.
Chris Pronger. He has aged gracefully and is a lock to make the team. His ability to handle the big stage will be important on what is shaping up as a fairly young D unit.
Scott Niedermayer. I questioned a year ago whether he'd still be playing, let alone worthy of consideration for Canada. Oops. Scott has put up points and big minutes.
Dion Phaneuf. Dion gets the spot on seniority, really. There's several other players worthy of the sixth D spot, but it's his to lose (which he may yet do).
Shea Weber. Continues to get rave reviews for his all-round game. He's just as good as Phaneuf but lacks the reputation.
Drew Doughty. He's got 21 points already but will be only 20 years old at the tournament. He's got all the talent, but the polish and defense can't be assumed over more experienced guys. Expect him to be a key part of the 2014 team.
Jay Bouwmeester. A good bet to replace injured players so he can be paired with Phaneuf. Not sure who you can bump for him, though. Brent Seabrook has a similar appeal.
There's no lack of depth here, and several of the extra D-Men are complete packages rather than offensive specialists like Brian Campbell. It'll be interesting to see whether the selectors opt for size, experience, scoring or youth.
Martin Brodeur. For all the discussion, this guy has put up the best numbers again and again, despite being without a strong defense in front of him this year. He gives peace of mind, which is more than you can ask from any goalie.
Roberto Luongo. He's great. He's just not as good. Sure, he gets hot, but he sure can go cold, too. Give me the guy with the Cup rings instead.
Others: There's been a lot of talk about Marc-Andre Fleury and others...if you ask me, none of them are in the same class as the top two.