The Anaheim Ducks' 4-2 win last night over the Los Angeles Kings was bittersweet after leading scorer Ryan Getzlaf went down early in the second period with an ankle injury. X-rays taken after the game indicated the ankle was not broken, but the star forward is due to be re-evaluated today.
Anaheim has three games left before the league shuts down for the Olympic break. With Anaheim still three points out in a tight Western Conference playoff race, every game counts for the Ducks. But Getzlaf is also tabbed to be an important part of Team Canada's bid for gold at the Olympics. Canada's first match is in a week, on February 16th.
If Getzlaf isn't able to make the jump, who are the prime candidates to replace him on Team Canada's roster?
Like the United States when they selected Ryan Whitney and Tim Gleason to replace injured defensemen Mike Komisarek and Paul Martin, Canada is required to select a replacement from the preliminary candidate list that they submitted earlier in the season for drug testing purposes. Unfortunately, that list isn't widely available, but the summer orientation camp is, which offers another look at Team Canada's thought process.
With players like Eric Staal, Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews on the roster who are capable of playing the centre position but might have been originally intended to play on the wing, Canada doesn't necessarily need to add a pivot to replace Getzlaf.
So, here are some names worth throwing out into the discussion:
Thought to be one of the last cuts for the final roster, Carter might be Canada's first call for a replacement player. With 23 goals and 48 points in 57 games, Carter's season has been off pace from last year's point-per-game output, but his size and his nose for the net make him an attractive option for Canada.
A member of the 2006 squad, St. Louis statistics place him at the top of the list of Canadian players not selected for Vancouver. He's got 18 goals and 63 points in 57 games for the Lightning. Adding St. Louis to the wing would require some shuffling of the lineup but his experience in Turin would also be an asset.
Not being named to the orientation camp and missing significant parts of last season in Dallas with injury, Brad Richards is finally healthy and showing why he was part of Canada's team in 2006. His 17 goals and 63 points in 56 games ties St. Louis atop the list of players not selected for Vancouver.
Steven Stamkos, C - Tampa Bay Lightning
Another player not invited to the orientation camp, Stamkos has been a bright spot in Tampa Bay all season long. His 32 goals place him in a tie for fifth in the league, while his 61 points in 57 games is second only to St. Louis on the Lightning. The future is now for Steven Stamkos.
Vincent Lecavalier, C - Tampa Bay Lightning
A member of the 2006 squad, Vincent Lecavalier appears to have used his Olympic snub this year as motivation. Since the team was announced, he's played strongly for the Lightning, climbing to just under a point-per-game production with 15 goals and 55 points in 57 games after struggling last season.
Ryan Smyth, LW - Los Angeles Kings
A member of the past two Canadian Olympic squads, Ryan Smyth continues to get it done for the Kings. Missing 15 games over the course of November and December killed his chances of being named to the roster, the character forward hasn't missed a beat since returning to the Kings. In 44 games, he has 18 goals and 37 points.
In addition to his size, Jordan Staal brings a strong two-way ability to the team and a nose for the net. His 16 goals and 38 points in 59 games with the Penguins might lag behind some of the more offensively prolific candidates, but Staal's complete game allows him to slot in where ever he is needed in the lineup.
This item was created by a member of this blog's community and is not necessarily endorsed by From The Rink.