| Sun 17/12/2017 - 10:05 EST

Winter Olympics Best Hockey Players For Canada Men's Team

Winter Olympics Best Hockey Players For Canada Men's Team

Top Players For Team Canada in Winter Olympics

When Gary Bettman announced that NHL players will no longer participate in the Winter Olympics, hockey fans everywhere collectively groaned. This leaves little reason to watch the Olympics now unless you're a fan of ice dancing and skeleton. But without the planet's best hockey players, there is still reason to believe we're in for a pretty competitive and entertaining event.

Another bombshell dropped when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) banned the Russian Olympic Committee earlier this month. Russia's loss is Canada's gain as the path to winning the nation's third consecutive gold medal got a bit smoother and they stand as +250 favourites to win it all according to Sports Interaction's betting lines.

We take a look at the best options for Team Canada from the three major positions...

Goaltenders

Ben Scrivens: the likely starter; he's played 144 NHL games with the bulk of it with Canadian teams like Toronto and Edmonton where he set a franchise-record 59 saves with the Oilers during the 2013-14 season. He's currently revitalizing his career with the KHL's Minsk Dynamo averaging 2.28 GAA with a .918 save per cent and eight shutouts. 

Justin Peters: the third-string goalie for Team Canada during the 2014 IIHF World Championships, Peters is a veteran of 83 NHL games with stints in Carolina and Washington. Currently playing for Kolner Hale in the Deutsch League (DEL), Peters is a good bet to be the team's backup. His best season in the NHL came in 2011-12 when he averaged a .931 save per cent with 2.48 GAA in seven games.

Other Notables: Drew MacIntyre (DEL)

Defensemen

Kevin Klein: the Kitchener, Ontario native was last seen as an integral part of a New York Rangers team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals during the 2013-14 season. He is currently serving as the alternate captain for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League. A veteran of 627 NHL games, Klein will likely take a leadership role among Team Canada's defensemen and is still in his prime at 32-years-old.

Chris Lee: NHL fans aren't familiar with the 37-year-old who has made a name for himself outside North America and became the only non-NHLer to suit up for the 2017 worlds. Lee has earned himself a Defenseman of the Year award with DEL in 2012, is a three-time KHL All-Star and two-time Gagarin Cup champion. He'll be counted on to bring his championship experience to the team.

Simon Despres: a first-round pick for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Despres spent most of his 200 NHL games with Pittsburgh and Anaheim before moving to Eastern Europe to play for the KHL's HC Slovan Bratislava. A Memorial Cup winner and QJMHL defenseman of the year, Despres has both leadership qualities and youth and will be an anchor for Team Canada's d-men.

Other Notables: Jesse Blacker (KHL), Chay Genoway (KHL)

Forwards

Derek Roy: on paper, Roy is the most prolific forward Team Canada can attain right now. The Ontarian is 34 and won the NLA title in 2016 with SC Bern. Roy has close to 800 NHL games' experience and had his most fruitful seasons with Buffalo where he scored most of his 524 career points. He's not the scorer he once was but still possess strong scoring instincts. 

Wojtek Wolski: the Polish-Canadian played in 450 NHL games before moving to the KHL where he won the 2016 Gagarin Cup with the Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Wolski showed his offensive chops early in his career recording 50 points in 76 games in his first full NHL season and has recently shown he still has plenty left in the tank scoring 138 points in 179 KHL games prior to this season. 

Rene Bourque: Bourque's NHL numbers don't reflect how vital of a player he was especially during his runs with Calgary and Montreal. The 35-year-old had his most notable performance when he scored eight times during Montreal's deep playoff run to the 2014 Eastern Conference finals. With over 752 NHL games, Bourque brings plenty of grit and skill to the team.

Mason Raymond: the speedy Raymond played most of his 609 NHL games with Canadian teams most prominently with Vancouver where he was part of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finalists. Raymond has 10 goals and 19 points in 19 games for his current club, the National League's SC Bern showing he still hasn't lost his offensive touch. His smooth skating will be a benefit in the international game.

Other Notables: Maxime Talbot (KHL), Matt Frattin (KHL)

Betting on Hockey

While NHL action is fun to watch and bet on, any hockey game is just as exciting when fans have money on the line. International hockey odds are available to Canadians through online sportsbooks, which offer the best of the wagering action and a signup bonus offers. Tune in this winter as Team Canada goes for Gold.

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