Ward, Staal, Stamkos stock goes up for 2010 Olympic hockey team

The Canadian Press
May 5, 2009
The Hockey News

Ward, Staal, Stamkos stock goes up for 2010 Olympic hockey team

The Canadian Press
May 5, 2009

There is action on both sides of the Atlantic that could impact the Canadian men's hockey roster at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

Team Canada boss Steve Yzerman is in Switzerland at the IIHF World Championship, where Martin St. Louis and Shea Weber are shining, and where rookies Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty are showing they can excel at international hockey.

Back in North America, the NHL playoffs are revealing plenty about the players with a shot at making the Olympic team.

Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward and centre Eric Staal and Boston forward Marc Savard have all taken steps forward, while the San Jose Sharks' early exit has raised doubts about Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau.

And new names can still emerge, like defenceman Brent Seabrook, who was tied for the Chicago Blackhawks team lead with eight points through the first eight post-season games. The 24-year-old from Richmond, B.C., was Chicago's first-round pick in 2003.

"I'm not ruling anyone out at this point," Yzerman said upon his arrival in Switzerland late last week.

The Stamkos-St. Louis duo has clicked since it was put together in Tampa midway through the NHL season.

Stamkos, the first overall draft pick last June, took a few months to get going at the pro level, but now looks like a player who could at least be invited to Team Canada's camp this summer.

Weber, who has become a top two-way NHL defenceman, and the rookie Doughty have also excelled on defence and on the power play in Switzerland.

The NHL playoffs have muddied the picture more.

Ward's 36-save shutout of the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of Carolina's second-round series was more evidence that the goalie who took the Hurricanes to the Stanley Cup as a rookie in 2006 is at the top of his game.

Last month, The Canadian Press had Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo and Steve Mason as its three goalies for the 2010 team. Now, the more experienced Ward goes in and Mason, who will need to follow up his 10-shutout rookie season with a strong 2009-2010 season, comes out.

The lingering doubt about Ward is that he was in goal as Canada wasted a 4-2 third-period lead and then lost 5-4 to Russia in overtime at the world championship last May in Quebec City. The tying goal with less than four minutes to play by Ilya Kovalchuk was not Ward's best moment.

That Brodeur allowed two goals to Carolina in the final 1:30 of the third period of Game 7 in the first round to blow a 3-2 New Jersey lead also raised alarm bells, but Brodeur missed most of the season with a torn biceps. Luongo's troubles against Chicago in the second round after a brilliant opening round against St. Louis are more worrisome.

Staal was not even on our team in April, but his gritty play and scoring down the stretch and into the playoffs has certainly put the big centre into the picture.

The question is, who would come out? Immediately, fingers point toward Thornton, who once again showed in the playoffs that he doesn't have what it takes to be the offensive motor of a good team in a tough, tight series.

But on Team Canada, he would not have to play that role. He has played on checking lines on past teams and used his size, soft hands and great vision to excel in that role. He could easily make the team, and let Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Getzlaf and others carry the pressure.

Savard has also become a more reliable team player to go with his obvious playmaking ability.


Martin Brodeur (New Jersey): Letting in two to blow a Game 7 lead wasn't vintage Marty but he can rebound after missing four months with biceps surgery.

Roberto Luongo (Vancouver): A terrific first round against St. Louis, an alarming second round so far against Chicago. Not a lock.

Cam Ward (Carolina): 2006 Stanley Cup goalie is playing his way on during the post-season.


Chris Pronger (Anaheim): Keeps getting stronger as the Ducks progress.

Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim): Will he be captain?

Mike Green (Washington): Dynamic offensive player plays lots of minutes.

Shea Weber (Nashville): Had 10 points through first six world championship games.

Duncan Keith (Chicago): Strong two-way force on high-flying Blackhawks.

Jay Boumeester (Florida):Plenty of international experience.

Dan Boyle (San Jose): In one playoff game the Sharks won, he had three points.


Jarome Iginla (Calgary): Hard to look good in tough playoff loss by Flames.

Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay): Rangy scorer and playmaker.

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh): Battles Alex Ovechkin for best in the world status.

Rick Nash (Columbus): Natural left-winger who can score.

Dany Heatley (Ottawa): Another winger with size and scoring touch.

Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim): Any doubts erased by dominant playoff performance.

Jeff Carter (Philadelphia): Scored 46 goals for the Flyers.

Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay): Leads Canada in scoring at IIHF World Championship.

Mike Richards (Philadelphia): Top defensive centre who also scores.

Shane Doan (Phoenix): Versatile checking and scoring forward.

Joe Thornton (San Jose): Big centre's leadership in doubt, but can still contribute with size and adaptability.

Simon Gagne (Philadelphia): Experienced two-way winger is back from bad injury, but no lock to make the team.

Jonathan Toews (Chicago): Young Blackhawks captain can play many roles.

Bubble players

G Steve Mason, D Robyn Regehr, D Drew Doughty, D Brent Seabrook, F Eric Staal, F Marc Savard, F Corey Perry.

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Ward, Staal, Stamkos stock goes up for 2010 Olympic hockey team