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Team Canada roster projections

Illustration by Sam Ho

Here's my latest edition of who's going to make Team Canada's World Cup of Hockey roster. Keep in mind that in real life, all teams must submit their original 16 names by the March 1 deadline with the balance of the 23-man roster to be named by June 1.

Forwards

As always, Canada is the hardest of all countries to narrow down to 13 forwards. It's merciless. Jaden Schwartz, my surprise pick back in September, is off this edition of the roster as his injury has prevented him from improving his stock. At the risk of being tarred in my native Hearst, Ontario, for leaving off Claude Giroux -- which was a difficult decision that I might reverse next time I do this -- I needed to find room in my 13 forwards for newcomers Taylor Hall (on fire) and Tyler Toffoli.

I wanted to add Matt Duchene, especially for his speed, but again, so hard to fit everyone you want in 13 slots when there's so much talent to choose from. Brendan Gallagher and Mark Stone are also on the bubble and could get back in next time. After all, the real Team Canada general manager, Doug Armstrong, himself mentioned those two kids recently.

Defensemen

Given how Mark Giordano has struggled this season, I had thoughts of dropping the Calgary Flames captain, but what other left-handed defensemen do Canada really have to look at? Marc-Edouard Vlasic is the best option and perhaps he'll make this team just as he did for Sochi, where he was a steady presence. Veteran Jay Bouwmeester is another option. But I have faith that Giordano will figure it out, and I've introduced Jake Muzzin to the mix too, on the left side. If Giordano plays his way off this team by February, or if I feel less confident about Muzzin, I would likely put Vlasic in his place. It's the right side of Canada's defense that is downright craziness. Can you believe I can't find room on this team for Brent Burns, Kris Letang or Brent Seabrook? I mean, the superstar depth Canada has on its right side is ridiculous. But I don't know how you can argue with Shea Weber, Drew Dougthy, P.K. Subban and Alex Pietrangelo as your four right-handed guys, unless one strongly feels Burns or Seabrook should supplant Pietrangelo, and I do think there's room for argument there.

Goaltenders

Suddenly what has been a weak spot in terms of depth for Canada over the past few years is showing more promise. While the Carey Price-Braden Holtby tandem should be locked in, the options for the No. 3 goalie are more plentiful than in years past. I took Jake Allen here because he's been simply outstanding this season while keeping the injury-ravaged Blues afloat, and plus I like a young guy to be my No. 3 because he'll accept the assignment more easily. But I could easily be convinced here to add Martin Jones, Marc-Andre Fleury, Devan Dubnyk, Corey Crawford or Roberto Luongo, the latter having another strong season for the Florida Panthers.