Of the 46 NHL players invited to Canada's Olympic orientation camp in Calgary in August, 16 helped their country capture the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and 18 have previously donned a Canadian jersey at the Olympics.
On top of that, 11 were captains of their respective NHL teams in 2008-09; 12 more were alternate captains. Getting the picture?
Unofficially, Canadians constitute 52.8 percent of all NHL players. With so much talent to choose from, Canada's management group has its work cut out for it as it prepares to pare the roster to 23 in preparation for the 2010 Games in Vancouver.
NHL.com takes it a step further -- narrowing the list to the top 10 Canadian players in the game today.
Let the debating begin.1. Sidney Crosby, F, Pittsburgh --
Crosby played like a man possessed during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring 15 goals and finishing with 31 points in 24 games to become the youngest captain in NHL history to lead his team to the Cup. At age 21 (he turns 22 on Aug. 7), he led all Canadian players with 103 points in 77 regular-season games in 2008-09.
2. Martin Brodeur, G, New Jersey --
Brodeur, 37, returned from injury late last season to become the winningest goaltender in NHL history with his 552nd victory. He went 19-9-3 with a 2.41 goals-against average and .916 save percentage in 31 appearances -- missing 50 games with a left bicep injury, the first major absence of his career. Brodeur has a 2.21 GAA and a .914 save percentage in 999 career games spanning 16 seasons. The three-time Olympian backstopped Canada to a gold medal in 2002.3. Jarome Iginla, F, Calgary --
The Flames' captain finished third among Canadian skaters last season with 89 points. He's won gold at four international events -- the 2004 World Cup, '02 Olympics, '97 World Championship and '96 World Junior Championship.4. Marc-Andre Fleury, G, Pittsburgh --
Without Fleury in goal for Games 6 and 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, the Penguins might not be spending their summer with the greatest trophy in sports. Fleury allowed just two goals and stopped 48 of 50 shots over those final two games against Detroit. He went 35-18-7 with a 2.67 GAA and a .912 save percentage in 62 regular-season games.
5. Chris Pronger, D, Philadelphia --
Pronger, 34, remains one of the finest two-way defensemen in the game today. He finished sixth on Anaheim in scoring (48 points) and seventh in hits (78) and led the team in blocked shots (122) while playing all 82 games in 2008-09. The intimidating 6-foot-6, 214-pound veteran, acquired by the Flyers on Draft Night, has registered at least 40 points each of the last five seasons.6. Ryan Getzlaf, F, Anaheim --
Getzlaf tied his career high with 25 goals and finished with a career-high and team-leading 91 points in 2008-09. He's also considered one of the League's top power forwards, compiling a team-leading 134 hits last season. Getzlaf has scored at least 24 goals each of the last three seasons.7. Rick Nash, F, Columbus --
Nash put together one of his best all-round seasons in 2008-09, with a career-high 5 shorthanded goals, 39 assists, 79 points and plus-11 rating in leading the Blue Jackets to the first postseason appearance in team history. He has posted at least 54 points in each of the last five seasons.
8. Roberto Luongo, G, Vancouver --
The Canucks' captain went 33-13-7 last season, with a 2.34 GAA and a .920 save percentage -- the best of any Canadian goalie with at least 20 appearances. In 544 career games spanning nine seasons, Luongo has 230 wins, a 2.57 GAA and .919 save percentage.9. Joe Thornton, F, San Jose --
The only thing missing from Thornton's impressive resume is a Stanley Cup. He's scored at least 70 points in each of the last six seasons and put up 25 goals and 86 points in 2008-09. Thornton has 842 points in 836 career games.10. Vincent Lecavalier, F, Tampa Bay --
The Lightning captain still produced last season despite playing through a nagging wrist injury that finally required surgery, finishing with 29 goals and 67 points in 77 games. When healthy, Lecavalier remains one of the best Canadian players in the game -- he has 302 goals and 669 points in 787 career games during 10 NHL seasons.Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer