Now that the first round is virtually over there are a couple of standout players that I believe will get invites to the World Championships.
Its now a fact that Martin Brodeur has been invited to join the team, but it's yet to be seen whether he'll go. I think this is a win-win for Canada. Brodeur goes and the team gets a Hall of Fame goalie out for vengeance after his post-season blues, a man who will almost certainly backstop the Olympic team in 2010. If they don't get Brodeur they get two goalies who have had decent seasons, and one (Ward) who is in the running to have a big role in 2010 and therefore has something to prove.
There haven't been a lot of players named to the energy line, and I think Boston has a player that would fit the bill very nicely: Milan Lucic. Was Canada's captain in the Super Series with the intent of 'sending the Russians a message.' He plays a freaking mean game, and he can put the puck in the net on occasion. I think he'll get a long look.
Matt Cooke in Washington could help fill out that line as well. It depends on the outcome of game 7 but he's been to this tournament before, and he is a classic pest.
The Predators could really help Team Canada on defence by donating the services of Dan Hamhuis and Shea Weber. Hamhuis and Weber played in the tournament last year and are both very good defenceman. I think Brent Burns will get an invite from the team because of his strong play this year.
I would bet the Anaheim crew (Pronger, Neidermeyer, possibly Beauchemin), but I would bet they all turn the team down. Beauchemin didn't look that good and Pronger doesn't seem like the type of guy to play in a 'lesser tournament.'
If those three go that'll leave one more defenceman, and it's really anyone's guess as to who it could be. Chris Phillips is a guy that has been called a 'potential' Team Canada blueliner for years, Mike Green or Braydon Coburn could go depending on which team loses, and one of Brian Campbell or Dion Phaneuf could be a huge boon for Team Canada. Robyn Regehr has been simply outstanding and could probably step in as Canada's best defensive defenceman.
The Sharks/Flames outcome could have a profound effect on Team Canada. Jarome Iginla has probably been the best player in the entire ice surface these playoffs, and he might be willing to travel to Quebec to play, especially if Martin Brodeur goes. Iginla has traditionally shyed off this tournament in recent years, but I think this particular year has special meaning and greater convenience. Thornton is the guy to ask on the Sharks. Right now I don't think he's good enough to make the Olympic team on the top two scoring lines, and he might have to settle for a grinding role much like he had in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey. This could be a chance for him to prove his usefulness.
We're only a week and half away from the Tournament opener, and this team will take shape sooner rather than later.