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Orientation camp offers hint at where Canadian NHL players stand

Friday, 08.28.2009 / 1:08 PM / News

The Canadian Press

A lot can change in four months.

It's reasonable to assume that a number of things will happen in the early stages of the NHL season that will alter Steve Yzerman's vision for Team Canada before he makes the final selections in December.

However, this week's orientation camp in Calgary did offer a few hints at where some players currently stand in the eyes of the Olympic brass. As camp wrapped up Thursday, Yzerman acknowledged that there was a logic to the line pairings.

"There's some purpose to who's playing with who," he said. "But things change dramatically."

One player he'll no doubt be watching closely is Brenden Morrow, who was limited to just 18 games for the Dallas Stars last season because of a torn ACL. Morrow didn't look out of place during the orientation camp scrimmage while playing on a line with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter - two players that many feel will be at the Games in February.

Of course, he'll have to show that his game hasn't suffered in the early stages of the season. And Morrow is far from alone in that regard.

The orientation camp had a very structured, professional feel and Yzerman headed home feeling confident that he has a strong grasp on what each player can offer. Now, it's just a matter of monitoring how things play out early in the season.

"For each player out there, I believe I have a good understanding of their strengths and where they'll be real effective," said Yzerman. "Some guys are more versatile than others and can potentially go in different spots. The tournament is six months from now or so - you've got players here that are coming off of an injury, there's just so many things for us to watch. That's all we can do.

"We'll make a decision when we have to make a decision."

In the interim, The Canadian Press will continue making decisions for them. Here's a look at our latest 23-man roster (which includes Morrow for the first time):

Goaltenders

Martin Brodeur (New Jersey): The stop he made on Jason Spezza during the orientation camp scrimmage was unreal.

Roberto Luongo (Vancouver): Has his eyes on winning the top job.

Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh): Stanley Cup win gives him an edge over the other young hopefuls. Could a strong start to the season get him to No. 2 on the depth chart?

Defencemen

Scott Niedermayer (Anaheim): He's your captain, Canada.

Shea Weber (Nashville): A spot on the Olympic blue-line seems to be his to lose.

Chris Pronger (Philadelphia): Bidding to become a four-time Olympian, the rugged defenceman has Flyers fans hoping that he can put them over the top.

Duncan Keith (Chicago): Among his defensive partners during camp? Niedermayer and Weber.

Jay Boumeester (Calgary): Gets his first taste of playing in a pressure-packed Canadian market this season after starting career in Florida.

Dan Boyle (San Jose): Narrowly missed being part of the Olympic team in Turin four years ago.

Mike Green (Washington): Now considered a bubble player after flaming out in the playoffs. But don't forget his 73 points last season.

Forwards

Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh): Will likely be left at his natural centre position for the Olympics. That makes him the No. 1 centre.

Rick Nash (Columbus): One of his main goals at orientation camp was building some chemistry with Crosby.

Martin St. Louis (Tampa Bay): Don't be surprised to see him start the Olympics with Crosby and Nash.

Jarome Iginla (Calgary): Iggy was a difference-maker at the Games in 2002. He'll be called on do it again in 2010.

Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim): Was held off the ice during orientation camp because of sports hernia surgery, but that won't hurt his chances.

Eric Staal (Carolina): The oldest Staal brother is the only one we could find room for on our roster.

Vincent Lecavalier (Tampa Bay): Feeling good after off-season surgery on his wrist.

Joe Thornton (San Jose): A tough end to last season for him and the Sharks. The fact remains that he's averaged more than 100 points a year since the lockout.

Shane Doan (Phoenix): Might be tough to showcase his skills with all the drama surrounding the Coyotes this season, but his strong international resume won't be forgotten by Hockey Canada.

Mike Richards (Philadelphia): Fantastic candidate for a shutdown line who can kill penalties and put up some points.

Jeff Carter (Philadelphia): Scored more goals (46) than any other Canadian-born player last season. Might be a good fit with Flyers teammate Richards.

Brenden Morrow (Dallas): One of the guys who really needs a solid opening to the NHL season to solidify a spot.

Jonathan Toews (Chicago): Was given assignments at both centre and wing during the orientation camp - a testament to the versatility that should help get him to Vancouver.

Bubble players

G Cam Ward, D Brent Burns, D Robyn Regehr, D Dion Phaneuf, F Jordan Staal, F Corey Perry, F Dany Heatley.

Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley