You won’t find bigger Marc-Edouard Vlasic supporters than us here at Blades of Teal. We were writing about how outstanding he’d been three or four games into the season, and the rest of the league is only just now beginning to notice. They’ve noticed his strong play so much that sites such as NHL.com think that he has a shot at making Canada’s Olympic roster.
As much as we love Vlasic and everything that he’s doing for the San Jose Sharks right now, he odds at making Team Canada are slim at best, even if he continues to flex his offensive muscle.
Everyone knows that Canada’s team is stacked, but once you see Vlasic’s competition listed out things become much more clear. To head over to Sochi, he would have to beat out one of the following defensemen at least.
- Shea Weber
- Drew Doughty
- Duncan Keith
- P.K. Subban
- Kris Letang
- Alex Pietrangelo
- Dan Boyle
- Jay Bouwmeester
- Brent Seabrook
The list could honestly go on if we included more fringe players. Kevin Bieksa, Dion Phaneuf, Dennis Wideman and even Mike Green or Jason Garrison could make strong cases to wear the Maple Leaf.
We’re not saying that Vlasic isn’t every bit as good as mostly all of these players, it’s just that the line of thinking that suddenly has him “in the mix” is flawed. Vlasic has always been outstanding in his own zone. He’s been one of the most underrated shutdown defenders int he NHL for a few years now and thrives as a defensive anchor.
If he was just doing that, no one would be talking him up around the water cooler as a guy that deserves to represent Canada. It’s his sudden scoring touch that has people excited.
Consider this though: it’s unlikely that both Letang and Subban both get the call for Canada. The larger ice surface isn’t conducive to defenders hopping up into the play because it’s tougher for them to correct and hustle to cover up their mistakes. Those kinds of risk takers from the blue line can hurt more than they help on international ice.
So if either Subban or Letang will be left off the team as offensive-defenders, why would Canada take Vlasic? And if Vlasic’s case is purely from a defensive standpoint, there are more proven options for the team’s brass to go with. Seabrook is a keen example, and Bouwmeester (while not a shoo-in) is capable of logging tons of minutes and always makes those around him better because of his high hockey IQ.
We’d like to see Vlasic make the squad as much as anyone. It just might not be the most realistic expectation to have as we get closer and closer to the Winter Games.