Crosby, MacKinnon and McDavid among top 6 Canadian players for 2025 Four Nations

Las vigas — From Patrick Roy to Martin Brodeur to Curtis Joseph to Roberto Luongo to Carey Price, goaltending has always been a position of strength for Canada in international hockey over the past three decades.

So far.

When the first six players on Canada’s roster for the 2025 4 Nations Face-Off were announced by the NHL and NHLPA on Friday, the wow factor was front and center.

Forwards Connor McDavid (3) of the Edmonton Oilers, Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins (2) and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche (1) have combined to win six Hart Trophies as the NHL’s best player. Defenceman Cale Makar won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s rookie of the year in 2019-20, the Norris Trophy as the best defenceman in 2021-22 and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the Stanley Cup Playoffs’ best player in the same season. Forward Brayden Point has 185 points (97 goals, 88 assists) in 163 games over the past two seasons. Forward Brad Marchand, captain of the Boston Bruins, has 401 goals and is up 292 for his career. They’ve combined for eight Stanley Cups.

This group will have no problem when it comes to putting pucks in the net. The big question is: who will stop them from going in?

“Goaltending is definitely one of the positions that will always be under the microscope for any team, but especially with it being Canada and with Carey being there previously,” Crosby said, noting that Price contributed to Canada winning gold at the 2014 Olympics and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. A man who cannot be replaced easily, but I think there are a lot of men who can do it.

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“I think with any position, there are always going to be tough decisions to make, but this one will be more important, I think, because of Curry having been there previously.”

from?

Could it be Jordan Binnington who helped the St. Louis Blues win the 2019 Stanley Cup?

Or one of the Vegas Golden Knights’ duo of Aden Hill and Logan Thompson, who teamed up to bring the Cup to Nevada last June?

Or what about Stuart Skinner, who supported the Edmonton Oilers in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final this season?

Or will another candidate emerge for the tournament, which will be held at the Bell Center in Montreal and TD Garden in Boston from February 12 to 20? This will be the best tournament since the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto.

“It’s definitely one of those things where Canada is a lot skinnier than it was before,” Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, the New Jersey Devils’ executive vice president of hockey operations who helped Canada win its first gold medal in 50 years in 2002. Olympics,” he told NHL.com from the draft floor for Sphere in the 2024 NHL Draft. “But I think Skinner has done a great job and deserves a closer look at the job. There’s still a group of guys out there, like Pennington.”

“I think it will be different in years past but I think Canada will be OK.”

Maybe so. But when you compare their candidates to, say, the United States, which can choose from a rich pool that includes Jeremy Swayman of the Boston Bruins; Connor Hellebuyck, the 2024 Vezina Trophy winner as the NHL’s top goaltender; Jake Oettinger of the Dallas Stars; And Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks Goaltending appears to be Canada’s weakness.

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“We should be fine,” general manager Don Sweeney said. “We have time to figure it out.”

Meanwhile, Crosby is already excited about the tournament.

“There’s obviously a lot of excitement to represent Canada in the best way possible,” Crosby said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve had the opportunity to do that. I think if you talk to all the people who were named today, I’m sure they’re all excited.”

It was certainly MacKinnon who had already picked Crosby’s mind about what the line combinations might look like.

“We were on a golf trip, and he mentioned it,” Crosby said. “I think it was the first day. He was just teasing me… It was a lot of fun to play with him at the 2015 World Championships. It’s been a long time since then.”

Crosby, MacKinnon and Marchand are all from Nova Scotia and have hot training sessions in the Halifax area over the summer.

“It’s definitely intense when we get there,” Crosby said. “But I think that’s what’s great about it. We all want to see each other do well but we’re all really competitive as well.”

“I hope we bring out the best in each other, or maybe sometimes, the worst.”

For Tampa Bay Lightning’s John Cooper, it’s finally a chance to coach Canada in the best-versus-the-best tournament. He was set to do so at the 2022 Olympics before the tournament was canceled due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Standing on the doorstep before that and feeling in the pit of your stomach that you’re not going to get that chance gives you the energy to do that,” Cooper said.

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“You represent your country. What more can I say?”

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