March 3, 2012; Raleigh, NC, USA; Carolina Hurricanes center Eric Staal (12) steps onto the ice before the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the RBC center. The Lightning defeated the Hurricanes in overtime, 4-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Could Eric Staal Replace Steven Stamkos On Team Canada's Olympic Roster ?

News came today today that one of the NHL’s biggest stars will not be available to play in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. On Wednesday, it was announced that  Steven Stamkos will not be able to play for Team Canada.

The Tampa Bay Lightning announced Wednesday that Steven Stamkos has not been medically cleared to play this upcoming weekend, or in the upcoming Winter Olympics because of a broken tibia. He suffered the injury on Nov.r 11 against the Boston Bruins. Stamkos has not played since then.

Steven Stamkos had a CT Scan done on his injured right leg on Wednesday afternoon. The scan showed that he has not yet fully recovered from his injury; therefore, he will not be able to play in the Olympics.

Hockey Canada now has a big decision to make. Who will replace Steven Stamkos? The top candidates to replace him are Tampa Bay Lightning captain Martin St. Louis, Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, Pittsburgh Penguins sniper James Neal, and Eric Staal, the captain of the Carolina Hurricanes.

Out of all those players, Eric Staal is the only player that was a member of Canada’s gold medal winning team in 2010 in Vancouver. Staal had six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in seven games played at those Olympics.

Eric Staal would be a good replacement for Steven Stamkos because of his experience, leadership, and scoring ability.

Some would argue that they don’t want Eric Staal to even participate. A lot of people want Eric Staal to get the rest and come back energized and ready to finish the season strong in late February.

Whoever replaces Steven Stamkos on Team Canada will be well-deserving of the honor. It will be interesting to see who gets the nod from Hockey Canada in the upcoming days.

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Tags: Carolina Hurricanes Eric Staal Steven Stamkos Team Canada

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