It was announced earlier today that Steve Stamkos isn't going to be able to play for Team Canada in Sochi after his recovery from a broken tibia has stalled. While that is very bad news for Stamkos and Team Canada it opens up a spot on the right side of Sidney Crosby on the top line.
Current options on Canada's roster include Corey Perry, Jeff Carter, Rick Nash and Patrice Bergeron.
Among this group it looks Corey Perry probably makes the most sense, yet given Canada's propensity to stick with chemistry (i.e. Kunitz and Crosby), he might remain slotted to Ryan Getzlaf's right.
Bergeron, who can play both center and wing, is probably not enough of a goal scoring option. That leaves Carter and Nash.
Carter would seem to fit in well as a replacement for Stamkos as he is a high volume shooter and consistent goal producer. In fact, Jeff Carter has been the 2nd most productive Canadian goal scorer over the past two seasons (80+ GP).
Nash offers similar production but has been dogged by concussion problems. He is the hot hand as he' s scored 9 goals since the roster announcement.
It has yet to be announced who will replace Stamkos on the roster but Claude Giroux, Martin St. Louis, James Neal, Joe Thornton and a few others are all in the running.
St. Louis may be the favorite for both sentimental reasons and the fact that he's scored 16 points in 16 games since the announcement. If so he could obviously slot in on Crosby's line as well.
Giroux doesn't shoot a lot and probably isn't the right fit for Crosby. His protracted goal scoring slump earlier in the year would probably take him out of the running for top line duties.
Neal is a long-shot. Although he is a Penguin, he plays more frequently with Evgeni Malkin than Crosby. That being said he has been very productive this season. In fact, he leads all potential replacements for Stamkos in points per game, but unfortunately for him he doesn't have the big name to go with that production.
Potential Stamkos Replacements (table is sortable)
|Player||G/G||P/G||EV G/60||EV S/60||Corsi Rel|
Taking a look at this chart, Canada has a lot of options. If Carter does get slotted on Team Canada's top line, the Kings will have 3 players playing big minutes (Carter along with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty) and possibly 4 if Jonathan Quick wins the starting job for the USA.