Ryan Getzlaf hurt his ankle in yesterday's game against the Kings, and while it's good news that X-rays were negative, he will have an MRI on his ankle today to determine the extent of the injury. Which means there's the real possibility he may miss the Olympics. So the question is, who should Team Canada replace him with? Here are the possibilities I can think of:
1. If the goal is to replace what has been lost, the most similar players, in my mind, are: Vincent Lecavalier, Jason Spezza, and Jeff Carter. All are big hulking skilled centre types, and have experience playing with big name linemates. Lecavalier and Carter are probably the closest options, being both playmakers and goalscorers. Lecavalier's plus is that he already has the Olympic experience from 2006, and he's an established and more mature star. Carter meanwhile has had great success with Canada at the junior level and already has chemistry with linemate Mike Richards on the team. Similarly, Spezza has chemistry with Heatly already and they supposedly remain good friends, and although Heatly will likely play on his big SJ line, it creates another option that is a known quantity. Plus Spezza has been hot hot hot on the surging Sens.2. If the goal is to bring in the best centre out there, than you've got to consider Steven Stamkos, Brad Richards and Marc Savard. Richards and Savard are without a doubt the two best playmakers not on an Olympic team. Savard has had injury problems this year and on a team that can't score, so he is I think the least likely to be picked of the players I'm discussing, but the numbers he's put up in years past are undeniable. Pair him with any sniper and he makes that sniper better. Richards is probably just a notch below Savard in that respect, and he's had a full, solid season playing on a team with no other true offensive stars. Stamkos, meanwhile, quietly is having a stellar sophomore year, is 5th in the league in goals (tied with Heatly) and is in the top 15 in points. And he looks to be a mainstay on future Canadian teams. Another possibility is Ottawa's Mike Fisher, who offers a different skill set and can be used in all sorts of situations, and is meanwhile putting up solid numbers.
3. If the goal is to have the best forward out there, then that's maybe Martin St. Louis. Just look at his stats from the last four years. He's in the top 10 in scoring this year once again.
4. If the goal is 'heart' and 'intangibles' and all that jazz, then look to Ryan Smyth. Having a good year down in LA and has more experience representing Canada than anyone else.
What y'all think? My gut: Stamkos, because we left out Sid last time, and that was a mistake.