With the NHL season off to a good start and less than three months away from the Olympic gold medal game in men’s hockey, the Canadian roster is starting to take shape.
Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby and Alex Pietrangelo were already named to the squad, with the final roster due to be announced in January.
But while Canada’s decisions up front and in defense tend to become debates over various stars, the goalie position seems to be a major question mark.
Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong told CBC Sports’ Rob Pizzo that Canadiens goaltender Carey Price was “listed” as a starter after last year’s playoffs when he led Montreal to the Stanley Cup Final.
“And now there are things that are so much more important than playing hockey and he’s going through some of those things right now, and if he’s up his game and wants to come and he’s playing at that level, he will be the guy again, ”Armstrong said.
WATCH | Armstrong discusses Team Canada’s roster decisions:
Price, 34, recently returned to the Canadiens after spending 30 days in the NHL’s Player Assistance Program for drug treatment. The Anahim Lake, BC native has yet to train with his team, but Armstrong said he heard Price may return soon.
The goaltender posted a .924 save percentage and a 2.28 goals-against average (GAG) in 22 starts in the Canadiens’ playoff series.
Armstrong, who is also general manager of the St. Louis Blues, named Andrei Vasilevskiy of Tampa Bay as the best goalie in the world after the Russian led the Lightning to back-to-back Stanley Cup titles.
“The good thing is that the guy who won before him is a Canadian and the really good thing was, for me, [that it was] Jordan Binnington. So [for] my day job is good to have Binner with us, and he’s played well this season too, ”said Armstrong.
Armstrong also noted that Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart is a contender for the team. Hart, 23, has played even fewer NHL games than Binnington. After two strong seasons to open his career, the Sherwood Park, Alta. Native struggled badly last year before rebounding with a strong 2021-22 campaign so far.
Marc-André Fleury, of Sorel-Tracy, Que., Won the Vézina Trophy last year as the league’s top goaltender with the Vegas Golden Knights, but struggled following a exchange for Chicago.
Non-NHL Contingency Plan
Of course, the final decision could be meaningless if the NHL withdraws its players from the Games due to a change in the COVID-19 situation.
The Ottawa Senators were recently forced to postpone three games due to a rift within the team. More postponements could make it harder for the NHL to take its three-week Olympic break scheduled for February.
To that end, Armstrong said Hockey Canada is also in the process of building an emergency team made up of non-NHL players.
“It is [Senior Vice President of hockey operations] Scott Salmond and Hockey Canada [job] take care of the other team, ”said Armstrong
“Our goal as NHL general managers and NHL coaches is to find out if the NHL players are going. I certainly respect the NHL, the NHLPA and the IIHF. they can leave safely and come home safely. But we are 100% focused on what we’re going to go for. “
NHL players last competed at the Sochi 2014 Olympics, when Canada won gold. The Canadians were content with bronze at Pyeongchang 2018, when NHL players were not allowed to attend.