The Canadian men’s national team hasn’t won gold at the World Championship since 2007. The squad hasn’t even medalled since 2010. But in 2015, the Canadian men’s club that has been assembled has to be considered one of the early favorites to take home the top prize.
Entering the tournament, the roster reads like an all-star team: Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Claude Giroux, Taylor Hall, Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene will all suit up for Canada. Making the team even better, though, is that following elimination from the Stanley Cup playoffs, Pittsburgh Penguins superstar center Sidney Crosby announced that he would join the team for this year’s tournament in Czech Republic.
There are a number of dream lines and duos that can be thrown together using the roster. Those who have wondered what it would be like to see Nova Scotia natives Crosby and MacKinnon skating alongside each other may get their wish. A line that has Hall and Seguin – the 2010 draft’s top two picks – would also be something to behold. Unlike most years when there’s a smattering of top stars on the Canadian roster and second- and third-line players filling out the lineup, 2015’s group looks as good as any Canada has ever iced and that includes 2004-05’s lockout-season roster.
Combined, Canada’s forward group scored nearly 300 goals this season and the offensive juggernaut that this team appears it can be is only made stronger when including defenders like Brent Burns, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Muzzin and Tyson Barrie. Those are four high-quality puck-moving defenders.
Though the Canadian entry usually has a few stars on it, rarely, if ever, is the team as stacked as 2015’s entry. Not even the 2007 gold medal-winning roster, which featured the likes of Eric Staal, Rick Nash and an 18-year-old Jonathan Toews, was as complete as this one.
In 2014-15, Smith had one of the worst years of his career, posting an atrocious 14-42-5 record with a 3.16 goals-against average and .904 save percentage. While much of the blame can fall on the shoulders of the Coyotes, who were one of the worst teams in the NHL, Smith’s SP numbers leave much to be desired even if they were posted on a subpar team. Smith is getting the call for the Canadians in their first exhibition game and, in all likelihood, will be the starter at the beginning of the tournament.
As for Jones, he appeared in 15 games for the Kings this season, posting a 4-5-2 record with three shutouts, a 2.25 GAA and .906 SP.
Canada officially kicks off the tournament on Friday as a member of Group A. Also competing in Group A will be Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, France, Germany and Austria. Winning the tournament helps decide world rankings and influences Canada’s placement at future men’s tournaments, including the Olympics.
In each of the past four World Championship tournaments, Canada finished in fifth place.