The Olympic Games have ended for the men’s hockey side for Team Canada. That was just in time for the women’s side to get some more golden neck-hangers, so it’s not all bad! Still, there is the lingering question of what if the NHL did send their players to the COVIDlympics? Well, that’s been done to death and doesn’t address the biggest fear: crossing borders. Every player wanted to be in the Olympics; none want to be stuck in China for two weeks of quarantine. The answer is obviously a Regional Team Canada tournament!
One Four Teams!
Any hockey fan over a certain age has done this, right? Breaking Canada into regions and making three teams who could possibly sweep the Olympic medals. Well, that’s changed with the increased popularity of hockey in nations around the world. With 32 teams, it’s not just the best of the best players from around the world in the NHL. Different countries have plenty of depth scorers, grinding defence, and backup goalies in there, too.
Proportionately Canada’s numbers have dropped from the high-90% days. But that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of talent here. How to divide it into anything like fair numbers is a challenge, though. Cutting Ontario in half would help, with them contributing over 200 current NHL players. In second place is Quebec, with just 62 NHLers this year born in La Belle Province. Alberta’s next with 60, then British Columbia at 46, then…
Then we realized this was way too much thought to put into a fluffy column. We’ll apply that theoretical equalizer of the Salary Cap and give CapFriendly a workout. Nothing like adding a level of complexity to simplify things, right? So with a limit of $81.5 million, let’s get our teams together, already!
The Regional Team Canada with the target on their back. Not only do they have the most players to choose from, but also Toronto and Ottawa. They have Canada’s age-old “problem” of too many centres, but they’ll just have to live with it. No trades allowed, here! On the other hand, the centre is where Ontario’s cap takes a beating. Some folks have got to go, and not just the obvious cuts like Jeff Skinner having a good year. John Tavares is having as fine a season as he has ever had – but at $11 million, he’s sitting.
Having two $10 million+ men among the forwards is a challenge. But that’s also where the talent is, countered somewhat by Mangiapane and Verhaeghe. Scoring isn’t a problem, here. It’s going to hurt who’s available on defence, but a 5-4 win is still a win.
No Brent Burns, no Drew Doughty, no Dougie Hamilton. Almost half the money left going to one player is a bad deal – unless that player is Aaron Ekblad. This defence is young, leaning heavily on entry-level contracts. It would have been nice to get “Dad” in there, but Chris Tanev‘s $4.5 million deal was just too rich. In the real world? Worth it. Here? Nah.
Cam Talbot $3.667
Spencer Martin $0.8
Matt Murray‘s revival is a great feel-good story, but is he twice as valuable as Cam Talbot? Sorry, Ottawa Senators fans. Enjoy his secret rebound. And if you’re asking who Spencer Martin is, he’s the Accountant Special and he’s played three very good games this season, thanks for asking.
Grand Total: $80.911 million spent.
Forwards pressed Ontario’s cap hard, but Regional Team Canada Quebec? Sit back and light one up. That part’s easy with some of the best bargains in the league. And while we were VERY tempted to go with an All-Jonathan first line, Bergeron is simply too good to be bumped. An All-Anthony line was ripe for the picking, too, but lacked a centre.
It feels like this is a forward roster that lives and dies on streaks. It’s hard to go wrong when Bergeron is on your team, though. Possibly the most irritating team in any league anywhere to play against.
Twice what Ontario spent on their defence. On the other hand, forwards playing against the top two pairs have to keep an eye on a breakout at any time if they turn it over. High-risk, high-reward, baby!
Zachary Fucale $0.750
Is Fleury a $7 million man anymore? Maybe, maybe not. But Fucale is off to a great – and cheap – start to his career.
Grand Total: $79.881 million spent.
The archetypical idea of a prairie kid – from Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba in this case – in the NHL was formed by Gordie Howe. There are worse players to model your game after. Just mind the elbows when you go into the corners with Regional Team Canada Prairies.
Much as we railed against stereotypes, how fitting one of the most valuable players in the league is a prairie kid taken in the sixth round. We could have kept Stone with his Vegas teammate, but Nylander is a huge step up from Stephenson. Also, did you remember Getzlaf was playing for $3 million this season? Taylor Hall got himself bumped for an All-Future line – and $4.5 million.
As obvious as keeping McDavid on Team Ontario is keeping Makar on Team Prairies. It does mean cutting corners elsewhere, but is so, so worth it. What he’s doing playing with Schenn? Two things: Schenn is currently partnered with Hughes, so he can play with a skill guy. Second, he saves a load of cash, and this team needs it.
Darcy Kuemper $4.5
Stuart Skinner $0.75
If Skinner is good enough for the Edmonton Oilers, he’s good enough for here. The Olympics are a short tournament. Maybe Kuemper will even survive them!
Grand Total: $80.267366
Is there anything more Canadian than ludicrous amounts of geography? On our journey, we’ll try to solve what’s in the water of Nova Scotia that lets the province punch so far above their weight class. Regional Team Canada Coasts just managed to get all three with Cozens coming down from the Yukon.
Much as there were bargains to be had in Quebec, you can really tell which CCC contracts were signed pre-pandemic. Hint: Ryan Johnson‘s $8 million hit didn’t make the team. Nor Jamie Benn‘s $9.5 million one. On the plus side, remember when people wondered if Nathan MacKinnon‘s deal was worth it? That fourth line is also known as the “How About You Keep Up, Old Man?” Line.
A strange feature, not having a single defenceman over Theodore’s $5.2 million. That could change in a few years, of course, but for now, let’s take advantage.
Tristan Jarry $3.5
Laurent Brossoit $2.325
Jarry may be the best non-entry contract in this entire silly scenario.
Grand Total: $78.610001
We refuse to say until this thing happens. Get on it, NHL!