Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby and Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier would make for a formidable duo on Rimouski's forward unit. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
We’re having a game tomorrow. All y’all are invited. The teams? That’s the best part. We’re doing it alumni-style, with every current NHLer playing for their junior squad, whether that be NCAA, Europe or Canadian major junior.
Rosters are comprised of a goalie, two defense and four forwards (one for subbing in). In order to qualify for a certain team, a player must have played a majority of their teenage career there, so Steve Mason is a member of the Ontario League’s London Knights, but John Tavares is not (J.T. would play with the Oshawa Generals). Players currently in junior also qualify, so if the Windsor Spitfires want Ryan Ellis to play alongside Ed Jovanovski, it’s all good.
Coming up with even seven legitimate players is actually pretty difficult: some of the best programs in the world couldn’t hack it due to at least one positional deficiency. Central Red Army, for example, has no goalie, since Nikolai Khabibulin actually played junior in the Sverdlovsk system. Plus, luminaries such as Alex Mogilny and Pavel Bure aren’t playing anymore.
But some of the teams that do come in are rather interesting. London, for example, boasts a murderer’s row of forwards – Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, Corey Perry and Brendan Shanahan – with Mason in net and the very capable John Carlson and Dennis Wideman on defense.
Similarly, the Western League’s Portland Winterhawks can trot out a top line of Marian Hossa, Brenden Morrow and Brandon Dubinsky (with Scott Nichol as the gritty fourth), a nasty defensive pairing of Braydon Coburn and Andrew Ference and Jason LaBarbera in net.
One of the more surprising finds in my research was that the University of Vermont could actually make some big noise in a hypothetical shinny tournament. The Catamounts, far from a powerhouse year-to-year, boast two NHL all-stars in Martin St-Louis and Tim Thomas. Rounding out the lineup up front are Patrick Sharp, Torrey Mitchell and Eric Perrin. On defense, Vermont is a little inexperienced thanks to the retirement of Aaron Miller, but current Cat Kyle Medvec and Minnesota farmhand Jaime Sifers will do. Another Vermont alum whose retirement makes him ineligible? John Leclair.
But for pure offense, no one can touch the Quebec League’s Rimouski Oceanic. How’s this for an attack: Sidney Crosby, Brad Richards and Vincent Lecavalier, with Michael Frolik coming off the bench. Behind them, you have Aaron Johnson, Gleason Fournier (drafted 90th overall by Detroit this year) and Philippe Sauve in goal.
Just for fun, here are two more lineups I constructed:
North Dakota Fighting Sioux – WCHA – Jonathan Toews, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, T.J. Oshie, Mike Commodore, Brian Lee, J-P Lamoreux
Frolunda Indians – Sweden – Daniel Alfredsson, Loui Eriksson, P.J. Axelsson, Alex Steen, Erik Karlsson, Christian Backman, Henrik Lundqvist
But let’s get down to brass tacks here. How would your favorite junior squad fare in this competition? Who makes your team’s alumni starting lineup and would that squad have the firepower, defense and netminding to be the best in the world? I want to know.
So use the comment section below to put together your roster and let’s see who comes up with the most intriguing combos. Could the University of Michigan beat the Quebec Remparts? What would happen if Moscow Dynamo faced TPS Turku? It’s on.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear regularly throughout the off-season, his column - The Straight Edge - on Fridays, and his prospect feature - The Hot List - on Tuesdays.
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