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Projecting Canada's final World Cup of Hockey roster

The final World Cup of Hockey roster will be announced for Canada on Friday evening, and they're going to pick seven multiple-time All-Stars and call it a day.

Look, there's no mystery here. Canada goes in, picks a handful of the 10 best centers and maybe a few wingers and Norris-caliber defensemen and says, “Okay we're done.”

You could ask a small child within limited understanding of the sport and have him do just as good as job as Doug Armstrong inevitably will. Picking a Hockey Canada team is not at all hard. And even if you that up, the 16 other multiple-time All-Stars you picked probably paper over your mistakes pretty convincingly. And even if they don't Mike Babcock with assistant coaches like Claude Julien, Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, and Bill Peters will implement a tight enough system that even that probably doesn't matter.

This is all a formality. Have the seventh defenseman you pick be a lucky contest winner from literally anyone currently living in Canada and you're gonna waltz. That might be true even if that winner is the No. 4 defenseman.

So without further ado, here are my picks for the most likely Canada roster at the World Cup of Hockey this fall, which really shouldn't even bother showing up because that's how much of a foregone conclusion this gold medal is:

(Ed. note: bolded names have already been selected)

FORWARDS  

Jamie BennTyler SeguinJonathan Toews

Taylor HallSidney CrosbySteven Stamkos

Jeff CarterJoe ThorntonClaude Giroux

Brad Marchand — Patrice Bergeron John Tavares

Extra:

Ryan Getzlaf 

Imagine the luxury of having Claude Giroux as the last forward named to your team. Good lord. 

The “problem” with Canada is that it develops so many elite centers that you end up playing a lot of guys out of position. Literally every right wing on this team is really just a repurposed pivot. And before everyone gets all worked up about Toews not being a center, you have to ask yourself just how much the very obvious chemistry between Benn and Seguin changes if the latter moves an extra 20 feet away from the former.

Hall is the “first” addition to the roster, if only because he's a scoring winger who should be able to work well with Sidney Crosby. Stamkos is not unaccustomed to playing the wing, and given that he'll be doing so for his new coach (probably) in this tournament, what's an extra couple of weeks before seven years of running the middle of the ice in Toronto?

Thornton and Giroux are new additions to the roster on the “third” line. Thornton should have been here all along and it's dumb that he wasn't, but again, which All-Star do you really want to shuffle out? Getzlaf? He got moved to the healthy scratch of the group, which is crazy, because other than this one super-unlucky season he's been a dominant player for years. 

Finally, Brad Marchand emerged not only as a very good left wing — which he's been for years — but as one of the three or four best on the planet. Leaving him off for any reason would be lunacy, especially because Bergeron is his guy. 

DEFENSEMEN

Brent Burns — Duncan Keith

P.K. SubbanMarc-Edouard Vlasic

Drew DoughtyKris Letang

Extra:

Shea Weber

Ho hum, we just added three defensemen who had top-five seasons in 2015-16. No big deal.

Burns is another guy where you're like, “Okay, how do you leave him off in the first place?” but after Armstrong personally watched Burns torch his club in the Western Conference Final, there's no way you leave him off.

Likewise, the addition of Subban is a no-brainer. Hockey Canada seems to have a thing against him for some reason but again, justification for his inclusion on this team is as simple as saying, “He's P.K. Subban. Come on.” He's that good.

Finally, you're playing Letang out of position on the wrong side of the ice, but you can't leave him at home to bring one of the other left-shot defenders. Not that Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, or Jake Muzzin are necessarily bad choices (and I can see the argument for bringing Muzzin to play with Doughty). They're very good, in fact. But they ain't Letang.

Frankly, I'd rather have one of them over Weber, but we all know how everyone in the world feels about Weber. 

GOALIES

Braden Holtby
Corey Crawford
Carey Price

This is what I expect the order will be for the goalies, but not what I'd necessarily go with. By then, Holtby will be the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, and no one will argue that even if Crawford is better. Meanwhile, I think caution with Price, who won't have played an actual game in nearly a year by then, is why he goes No. 3.

Again, you might as well just print the championship t-shirts now and save yourself some trouble. This team is scarily talented, and as usual you can make a pretty competitive team just with the guys you're leaving off the Canada roster. (How about a starting lineup of Couture - O'Reilly - Perry, Pietrangelo - Brodie, Elliott?)  

So given all the assembled talent and brains, if this team doesn't win gold in a walk, they should be ashamed of themselves. It's a near impossibility! What other hockey nation can plausibly stack up? This might be the most talented team ever assembled!

Not to jinx them or anything.

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