Who will represent Team USA at the 2022 Winter Olympics? Will it be NHL superstars or will we see a non-NHL team like the one we saw at the 2018 games? Well today we finally got an answer. The NHL and NHLPA announced they will be sending NHL players to the Olympics for the first time since 2014.
As much as I enjoyed watching my friend Chad Kolarik (one of my favorite interviews I have done on The Broadway Hat Podcast) suit up for Team USA, selfishly I want to see the world’s best players battling each other. The big question is who are the 25 players that will wear the Red, White, and Blue sweater in Beijing next year. Ultimately the final call will be made by Team USA GM Stan Bowman (Chicago Blackhawks) and AGM Bill Guerin (Minnesota Wild), but here is my early preseason prediction on who makes the final roster.
With 25 roster spots allowed I have the team broken down to 14 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders.
Auston Matthews– The 2020-21 Maurice Richard Trophy winner will make his Olympics debut and be the top-line center for Team USA.
Jack Eichel– When healthy Eichel is a top 10 center in the NHL. The question will be if he is healthy for next year’s games. If he is he is a no-brainer selection for the team.
Dylan Larkin– Larkin has been a fixture on Team USA World Championship teams, representing them in 5 of the last 6 tournaments. Larkin brings leadership and international experience to the team. He can also kill penalties.
Joe Pavelski– The two-time Olympian had a bounce-back season last year with Dallas putting up 51 points in 56 games. A veteran of 161 NHL playoff games this guy knows how to play in big games. Also if you need a 3rd period own zone faceoff won Pavelski is your guy.
Alex DeBrincat– I can see Stan Bowman taking his 23 year old center over to Beijing with him. DeBrincat scored 32 goals in just 52 games last year. If he gets off to a hot start this next season it will be tough to keep him off the team.
Patrick Kane– When his career is over Kane might go down as the greatest US-born hockey player ever. This will be Kane’s third Olympics and he should be the Captian of this year’s team.
Johnny Gaudreau– The 5-time All-Star will be relied upon in the top six to prove a scoring punch. “Johnny Hockey” has played on 4 World Championship teams so he also brings a lot of international experience to the team.
Brock Boeser– The 24 year old Canucks star should be in the top 6. The former NHL All-Star MVP scored 23 goals this past season.
Kyle Connor– The Winnipeg Jets forward has scored 30+ goals in 3 of the past 4 seasons. Connor plays a strong two-way game and should play in the top 6.
Jake Guentzel– Often overshadowed in Pittsburgh by Sidney Crosby, Guentzel has been a standout performer for the Penguins the last three seasons. The former Stanley Cup Champion averaged just over a point per game this past season.
Max Pacioretty– The 13 year NHL vet should be named to his second Olympics team. The Vegas star will slide right into the top 9.
Matthew Tkachuk– The hard-nosed forward will provide some grit and scoring to the roster.
Brady Tkachuk– Similar to his brother, Brady and his 6’4 210lb frame will bring size and grit to the team.
Blake Wheeler– This would be the 14 year NHL vets second Olympics team. The Winnipeg Jets Captain continues to perform at a high level and brings leadership to the team.
Adam Fox– The reigning Norris Trophy winner should make his Olympics debut. The New York Rangers star has been outstanding in his first two NHL seasons. Fox should also play on the top powerplay as well.
Seth Jones– The newest Chicago Blackhawk will slot right into the top 4 for Team USA. Jones has been in the top 15 of the Norris Trophy voting the past 3 seasons.
Zach Werenski– Jones’ former running mate in Columbus has consistently been one of the top defensemen in his 5 NHL seasons. He is a shut-down defender that can kill penalties.
John Carlson– Carlson is one of the top all-around defensemen in the NHL. He puts up huge offensive numbers and can also shut down top players. He has three top 5 Norris finishes and a Stanley Cup on his resume. This will be Carlson’s second Olympics and he will provide leadership on the blueline.
Quinn Hughes– The 2019-20 Calder runner-up will prove offense from the blueline for Team USA. Hughes was fantastic for Vancouver during their 2019-20 playoff run, producing 16 points in 17 games in the playoff bubble.
Charlie McAvoy– The Boston Bruins star is well on his way to becoming one of the best defensemen in the NHL. Fresh off a 5th place Norris finish this past season the 23 year old will be an easy selection for the Olympic team.
Torey Krug– The 10 year NHL has been one of the top offensive defenseman in the NHL for the past 8 years. Krug can also be called upon to play on the powerplay.
Ryan McDonagh– Maybe the biggest surprise on the roster but there are a lot of young players in this group and McDonaugh would bring Olympic experience and leadership to the group. He has been was outstanding for Tampa Bay the last two playoffs helping them bring home back to back cups.
Connor Hellebuyck– The former Vezina Trophy winner has been one of the best goalies in the NHL the past four years. Barring a terrible start to the NHL season it is a safe bet that Hellebuyck is the starting goalie for Team USA in February.
John Gibson– Gibson didn’t have a great year last year but I still think he gets named to the team. The 9 year NHL vet had unbelievable international success early in his career. Winning Gold at both the U18 and U20 World Junior Championships, while being named the Top Goaltender at both tournaments.
Cal Petersen– This also might be a surprise but I think they go with a younger goalie to give them the Olympic experience. Petersen was outstanding for Team USA at this years World Championships. He was named the Top Goaltender of the tournamnent.
We still have a few months before the final roster is announced. A lot can change between now and February. However if this is the team that is on the ice in Beijing the US will be a dangerous team. That will a favorite to bring home the Gold.
Be sure to bookmark our hockey page for hockey coverage and follow Belly Up Hockey on Twitter: @BellyUpHockey. Follow me on Twitter for more takes on the New York Rangers and USA Hockey: @KHallNY. You can also listen to my NY Rangers podcast The Broadway Hat Podcast on Apple Podcast and Spotify for Rangers news and interviews with past and current players. Covering Team USA 2022 Winter Olympics Team.