Debating Team Canada's choices

Giroux vs. Carter, Nash vs. Neal highlight the key decisions made for Sochi

Updated: January 8, 2014, 3:49 PM ET
By Frank Provenzano | ESPN Insider

Claude Giroux, Matt D'Agostini, Joe VitaleGregory Shamus/NHLI/Getty ImagesDid Team Canada make a mistake by leaving Claude Giroux off its roster?

With the Olympic rosters officially announced and the armchair analysis in full swing, here is some former management perspective on the selection process that produced what the architects of Team Canada hope will bring Sochi gold.

In a normal setting, team management spends 95 percent of its roster selection discussion on the bottom 5 percent of the lineup decisions. With the depth of quality players that Team Canada had to choose from, my guess is that those discussions probably crept a little farther up the depth chart.

Here are a handful of head-to-head comparisons that were so close they could have been decided by the flip of a coin:


Claude Giroux (heads) vs. Jeff Carter (tails)

At the quarter point in the season, both of these players were likely not on the preliminary Olympic lineup in the Team Canada boardroom either due to injury (Carter) or poor play (Giroux).

Deciding factor: The right-handed-shooting Giroux is one of the more complete 200-foot forwards in the league when he is at the top of his game, but that game was nowhere to be found during the first two months of the season. His improved performance over the past two months has coincided with the resurgence (and potential resuscitation) of the Flyers' season, but it was ultimately not enough to earn the right to wear the Maple Leaf. Carter, who missed time this season with a broken foot, probably had his ticket to the Sochi Olympic dance punched on the basis of his game-breaking, quick-release goal-scoring ability (a la James Neal) and, perhaps more importantly, his Stanley Cup ring.

My coin: Tails. For as good as Giroux has been recently, he is arguably the worst offensive forward in Canada's top nine (Chris Kunitz notwithstanding). Carter brings Neal's sniper rifle and extensive NHL playoff experience to the battle, which are valuable resources to have in reserve.


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