It's less than three months until the 2010 Olympics kickoff, and speculation is rampant about the makeup of the Canadian and other national teams. It appears that a number of Canucks will skate on "home" ice in February, as a few players are likely to make their respective national teams. After the jump I give a rundown of what Canucks we can expect to see skating on GM Place ice during the Olympics, and raise some questions about the impact this might have on the latter part of the season.
Locks: Roberto Luongo
Other possibilities: none (sorry Kyle Wellwood)
Locks: Ryan Kesler
Other possibilities: Mathieu Schneider (a dark horse, but maybe a PP specialist)
Locks: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Alexander Edler
Other possibilities: Mikael Samuelsson
Other possibilities: Sergei Shirokov? Okay, maybe not.
Other possibilities: Sami Salo (If he's healthy he should be on the team)
Locks: Christian Ehrhoff
Other possibilities: none
Other possibilities: Pavol Demitra (if he's healthy); Mario Bliznak (I don't know what Slovakia's depth is like, but hopefully they don't need to dip too far into the AHL ranks to ice a team)
If Only They'd Qualified
Locks: Michael Grabner (Austria); Jannik Hansen (Denmark)
So the Canucks could have up to 10 regulars playing in the Olympics. While it will be awesome to see our boys putting it on the line for their country, how will the team fare coming out of the Olympic break? The Sedins, Kesler and Luongo will all potentially be fatigued. Who will step up for Vancouver? We'll need Raycroft to shoulder a bigger burden, which he has demonstrated the ability to do. Secondary scorers like Alex Burrows, Mason Raymond, Kevin Bieksa and Steve Bernier will need to step up. Wellwood will have spent two weeks laying by the pool, so he should be good to... oh, wait, never mind.
It will be an interesting time for the Canucks, as it will for other teams with significant international contingents. Throw in Canucks' epic pre- and post-Olympic road trip, which will rival the journeys of Odysseus, and the new year looks like a giant wildcard for Vancouver. How do you think the Canucks will respond? Will the Olympics help us? Hurt us? Make no difference? Hopefully one of our boys can pull the rare Olympic Gold and Stanley Cup feat in 2010. I'm looking at you, Luongo.