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Ryan Johansen on projected Team Canada roster for 2016 World Cup of Hockey

by BlueJackets.com Staff / Columbus Blue Jackets

Canada has won the Olympic gold medal twice in a row, and its performance in Sochi in 2014 was considered one of the most dominant of all time.

Canada allowed three goals and 129 shots on goal in six games, using a possession game to keep the puck away from its net and then counting on goaltender Carey Price when teams managed to mount any attack.

Powerful opponents like the United States and Sweden were left demoralized after shutout losses to Canada in the semifinal and final, respectively.

The core of that team should be back at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, with one very important addition, a player who missed the 2014 Olympics because of an injury (Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning) and some younger talent that has matured into dominant players refreshing the roster.

Here is what Team Canada's roster could look like for the tournament, which will be held Sept. 17-Oct. 1, 2016, in Toronto (alphabetically by position):

FORWARDS
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, C -- Crosby scored the gold medal-winning goal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and was captain of the team that won gold in Sochi in 2014, scoring his only goal in the final against Sweden to give Canada a 2-0 lead late in the second period. Crosby, 28, is the only player who has been in the top five in NHL scoring each of the past three seasons. His 244 points during that time are 28 more than his nearest competitor, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (Russia), who played 14 more games.

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks, C -- Getzlaf's size (6-foot-4, 218 pounds) and vision make him a dominant playmaking center, and the fact he comes with his own personal finisher, Ducks teammate Corey Perry, makes him that much more dangerous in a short tournament. Getzlaf, 30, is fifth in the NHL in points per game during the past three seasons and has a long, successful relationship with Hockey Canada, winning gold at the 2003 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, the 2005 IIHF World Junior Championship and twice at the Olympics.

Ryan Johansen, Columbus Blue Jackets, C -- Johansen turns 24 on July 31, 2016, just in time to make him eligible for Team Canada rather than the 23-and-under Team North America. Johansen is eighth in goals among Canada-born forwards during the past two seasons with 59, and at his age there should be plenty more to come.

John Tavares, New York Islanders, C -- Tavares lost the Art Ross Trophy on the final day of last season to finish one point behind Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars. Tavares, 25 on Sept. 20, has the third-highest points-per-game average in the NHL during the past two seasons, and no forward was on the ice for more 5-on-5 shot attempts by his team last season, according to war-on-ice.com.

Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, C -- Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper called Toews "Captain Everything" during the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, and it perfectly describes why the Blackhawks captain is so valuable to Team Canada. Toews, 27, can play anywhere in the lineup with any players on his wings and be effective. In a short tournament like the World Cup, that kind of versatility is invaluable.

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars, LW -- Benn caught fire down the stretch (12 goals and 23 points in his final 12 games) to edge Tavares for the 2015 NHL scoring title. A revelation at the 2014 Olympics for his strong two-way play, Benn scored the only goal in Canada's 1-0 win against the United States in the semifinals. The 26-year-old won't sneak up on anyone at the World Cup.

Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers, LW -- No one in the NHL has more points during the past five seasons than Giroux (376), who was not selected for the 2014 Olympics but should get his opportunity here. The 27-year-old's size (5-11, 172 pounds) always has been used against him, but a player with his proven history of consistent offensive production belongs in a best-on-best tournament.

Taylor Hall, Edmonton Oilers, LW -- Hall's career has been plagued by injury, but when healthy he is one of the most productive players in the NHL. His 0.94 points-per-game average during the past four seasons is tied for 11th in the League with Phil Kessel of the Pittsburgh Penguins (United States) and Getzlaf among players with 215 or more games. Hall, 24 on Nov. 14, has the ability to break a game open with his speed and could fit nicely to the left of Crosby.

Rick Nash, New York Rangers, LW -- Nash will be 32 when the World Cup begins, making him the oldest player on this roster. But he remains one of the top scorers in the NHL, finishing third with 42 goals and first in even-strength goals with 32 last season. With a wealth of international experience -- he's played 53 games at the Olympics and IIHF World Championship -- Nash would help integrate the younger players on the team. He is a natural left wing who can kill penalties, something in short supply among Team Canada forwards.

Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins, RW -- Bergeron is a coach's dream. He scores goals, kills penalties, wins faceoffs, drives possession and does basically anything he is asked to do while playing against the opposition's best players. A three-time winner of the Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward, Bergeron, who will be 31 when the World Cup begins, is remarkably consistent, with a points-per-game average between 0.68 and 0.79 in each of the past six seasons.

Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks, RW -- Perry and Getzlaf come as a package. They have spent roughly 83 percent of their total 5-on-5 ice time playing together during the past eight seasons, according to puckalytics.com. It's a mutually beneficial relationship, with Getzlaf outscoring Perry 274-267 from their combined 541 points when they are on the ice together at 5-on-5 during those eight seasons. During the past three seasons, Perry, 30, is tied for fourth in the NHL with 91 goals.

Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars, RW -- Much like Getzlaf and Perry, Seguin comes as a package with Benn. They have been the most productive pairing in the NHL since Seguin's arrival in Dallas in 2013, with a combined 143 goals and 327 points. Seguin, 24 on Jan. 31, scored 74 of those goals, eclipsing his total during his first three NHL seasons with the Boston Bruins by 18. Seguin's experience playing on the wing in Boston helps him on a team overloaded down the middle.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning, RW -- Stamkos, 25, was denied an opportunity to play in the 2014 Olympics because of a broken tibia, and Canada won gold regardless. Now imagine that team with Stamkos, who finished second to Ovechkin last season with 43 goals and was 14th with 72 points. He is the purest goal-scorer on the roster, and his experience playing right wing helps alleviate the crowded center position.

Read the rest of Canada's projected roster by clicking HERE.
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