The Canadian Olympic Team will be announced on Wednesday and fans might be asking themselves, will Carolina Hurricanes franchise player Eric Staal make the cut?
While Staal was tendered a cherished invitation to the country's Olympic Camp tryouts over the summer, many seem to think that the All Star center has not had an Olympic quality season so far this year. A 15 member panel from Hockey Night in Canada recently made their predictions, and Staal was not on the list.
Not surprisingly, they chose Martin Brodeur, Roberto Luongo, and Marc-Andre Fleury to be the goaltenders for the team. Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward was in consideration early in the season, but his numbers do not even come close to the competition at this point.
|2009 - Martin Brodeur||34||2001||23||9||72||2.16||902||830||.920||3|
|2009 - Roberto Luongo||31||1779||18||12||69||2.33||846||777||.918||2|
|2009 - Marc-Andre Fleury||32||1857||22||9||74||2.39||829||755||.911||0|
|2009 - Cam Ward||23||1248||4||13||66||3.17||632||566||.896||0|
The word on the street is that the selection process weighs heavily upon a player's year-to-date production, and not necessarily what they have done in the past. If so, Staal is in as much trouble as his teammate.
I have assembled some year-to-date stats (as of 12/26) comprised of all 25 forwards attending the try out camp during the summer. (Joe Sakic is not included because of his retirement). I also included Brad Richards (3) and Dustin Penner (11) who have numbers that can not be ignored. They could very well make the team even though they were not invited to the camp, although that would be unusual.
|1||Joe Thornton||10G 41A||51||37||1.38|
|2||Sidney Crosby||22G 24A||46||37||1.24|
|3||Brad Richards||10G 32A||42||35||1.20|
|4||Dany Heatley||22G 19A||41||37||1.11|
|5||Martin St. Louis||7G 34A||41||37||1.11|
|6||Ryan Getzlaf||10G 31A||41||37||1.11|
|7||Corey Perry||16G 24A||40||37||1.08|
|8||Patrick Marleau||23G 16A||39||37||1.05|
|9||Ryan Smyth||9G 14A||23||22||1.05|
|10||Jarome Iginla||19G 18A||37||36||1.03|
|11||Dustin Penner||19G 19A||38||37||1.03|
|12||Rick Nash||19G 17A||36||38||0.95|
|13||Vincent Lecavalier||9G 24A||33||37||0.89|
|14||Mike Richards||15G 15A||30||36||0.83|
|15||Derek Roy||9G 20A||29||36||0.81|
|16||Jonathan Toews||11G 13A||24||30||0.80|
|17||Jeff Carter||12G 15A||27||36||0.75|
|18||Patrick Sharp||11G 16A||27||36||0.75|
|19||Eric Staal||6G 15A||21||28||0.75|
|20||Simon Gagne||2G 6A||8||12||0.67|
|21||Brenden Morrow||13G 11A||24||37||0.65|
|22||Shane Doan||9G 15A||24||38||0.63|
|23||Jordan Staal||10G 13A||23||38||0.61|
|24||Andy McDonald||9G 1A||20||34||0.59|
|25||Dan Cleary||7G 9A||16||30||0.53|
|26||Milan Lucic||2G 3A||5||10||0.50|
You can see that Staal is currently ranked 19th on the listing above, when compared in a "points per game" analysis. Last Olympics, the team took 13 forwards and had two on the "taxi squad", for emergency replacements. Coincidentally, Staal was a member of the extras in 2006.
Of course, how many "points per game" a player gets is not the only determining factor when choosing a team, but it would make sense that those numbers will be looked at very closely.
The wild card in all of this is how Steve Yzerman and the Olympic Committee take injuries into consideration. Staal has averaged over a point a game since his return from a 10 game break due to an injury, (16 points in 15 games). Those recent results would put him in the top 10 or 11 forwards listed above.
Also, Staal has performed well in pressure situations and led his team in scoring during two long post season runs. Is that taken into consideration?
The panel predicted that the following forwards would be selected: Crosby, Iginla, Thornton, Getzlaf, Nash, Heatley, Perry, Marleau, M. Richards, Toews, B. Richards, St. Louis, and Morrow. Staal was just on the outside, meaning that if the panel predicted correctly, he would be a substitute once again.
Will Staal make it? Should he accept if he is offered? The forward has been fighting injuries all season long and some fans might think that under those circumstances, he should respectively decline and rest himself for the home stretch, meaningless as it might be. What do you think?