Today I read this hypothetical question: If some radical terrorism or government situation went down in Sochi, and all the Olympians we’re stuck there and couldn’t leave, which teams current roster would have the best shot at the cup?
I like this question because it immediately makes Pittsburgh and the Rangers irrelevant. That appeals to me, then I instantly get sad/angry/depressed that the world will be without John Tavares. It’s a hypothetical, so I digress. It’s an interesting question because you have to factor in the amount of players a team would lose, the amount of role players who are capable of putting up points a team has left, and the new responsibility of Olympic snubs. Right away a couple of teams came to mind, but I’m going to count down my four teams with the best chance at a cup. For arguments sake, lets assume its a brand new season and everyone has zero points.
4. Boston Bruins
Its obviously extremely tough when you’re losing Rask and Chara, but Boston still has lots of depth to play with. Lucic, Marchand, Iginla, Paille, and blossoming rookie Riley Smith are still available. On the blue line they still have a solid responsible D core with Boychuck, Bartowski, Hamilton, and Krug. Their main issue is Chad Johnson in net.
3. San Jose Sharks
SJ is losing 4 great players in Marleau, Pavelski, Niemi, and Vlasic, but the amount of talent they have left after those 4 are gone is still pretty tremendous. They still have Olympic snubs Joe Thornton and Logan Coture. They also have power forward Brent Burns, and when he gets back from injury, Tomas Hertl. As for defense, they’ll have former Olympian and all star Dan Boyle, Brad Stuart, and Jason Demers. Again, like Boston, the real problem stems in net.
2. Philadelphia Flyers
Philly will take a huge blow to their defense, losing Streit, Timmonen, and Meszaros. Losing Jakub Voracek and Michal Raffl hurts also, but Philly still has a significant piece of their forward core, starting with a snubbed Cladue Giroux. The Flyers will still have Lecavalier, Simmonds, Hartnell, both Schenns, Matt Read and Sean Couturier. Brayden Coburn is still available, and Steve Mason has picked up his play as of late. This squad has been clicking under Berube, and they have the power to make the fake made up Stanley Cup versus…..
1. Edmonton Oilers
Finally, the Edmonton Oilers will get to showcase all their #1 picks and young talent. The only forward they’re losing is Ales Hemsky, and only two defenseman, young Martin Marincin and Anton Belov. With all the best players in the league gone, and a significantly watered down goalie pool, Edmonton’s offense would be absolute dynamite. Their speed would not be matched by any other team, and if Ben Scrivins can play as he did during his short stint with the LA Kings, the Oilers would have a real powerhouse team on their hands. I guess they earn this spot more so because every other team lost significant pieces where as Edmonton really didn’t, but I still don’t believe their last couple of years does any justice to the talent these kids have.
For more insight on Sochi, stay tuned for Bretzky’s Olympic Preview Part 2