March 16, 2011
Nonis should have lots to choose from
By MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
RALEIGH, N.C. — With Maple Leafs VP of hockey operations Dave Nonis expected to be named as Team Canada’s general manager for the upcoming world hockey championships, the next task at hand will be to fill out a roster.
Judging by the players who already have publicly said they’d like to be part of the experience in Slovakia, where the tournament runs from April 29-May 15, Nonis and potential assistant Rob Blake look to have some prime talent at their disposal.
With the competition still six weeks away, the New York Islanders’ John Tavares and the Ottawa Senators’ Jason Spezza already have expressed their desire to represent this country should their teams fail to reach the NHL playoffs. Given the standings entering play Wednesday, that’s a pretty safe bet.
“(The playoffs) are the main goal,” Tavares told the Toronto Sun last week. “That’s the focus.
“If it doesn’t work out, well, I would be proud and flattered to be invited (by Hockey Canada) for Team Canada.”
Tavares scored seven goals in seven games for Canada at last year’s worlds in Germany.
Spezza. meanwhile, has won a pair of silver medals while representing Team Canada at the worlds, but is motivated by the opportunity to capture that elusive gold.
Players understandably will not be named to the individual teams competing in the worlds until the conclusion of the 2010-11 regular season in 31/2 weeks. Having said that, there already are some obvious candidates emerging.
Matt Moulson, Tavares’s linemate with the Islanders, would stand to get a long look. having reached the 30-goal mark with 11 games still to play. Colorado forward Matt Duchene, Edmonton rookie Jordan Eberle, Florida forward Stephen Weiss and St. Louis winger Chris Stewart also are good bets to warrant consideration from Hockey Canada, especially since their respective NHL clubs appear to be longshots at best to make the playoffs.
As for the Leafs, defenceman Luke Schenn and, perhaps, rookie goaltender James Reimer come to mind, although both are still hoping Toronto can make a late-season push into the postseason. Forward Clarke MacArthur would be a good pick but, with his contract running out at the end of the season, would Nonis and his staff still give him the nod?
Whatever happens, it should be an interesting few weeks for Nonis and Blake, who are expected to officially be named during a press conference in Toronto on Thursday.