USA Hockey has had a grueling selection process for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
General manager Stan Bowman stepped asideafter also leaving his Chicago Blackhawks position following an investigation into how that team mishandled a 2010 sexual assault complaint against a member of his coaching staff.
The time it took Jack Eichel is exchanged and neck surgery could keep him out of the Olympics. TJ Oshie, Max Pacioretty and Jack Hughes were injured early in the season and Blake Wheeler was delayed by a stint on the COVID-19 protocol list.
The United States has added forwards Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews, plus defender Seth Jones, to the squad. The remaining players will be announced in January.
Here are some early predictions of who the team might make:
Connor Hellebuyck, Winnipeg Jets
John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Jack Campbell, Toronto Maple Leafs
Analysis: While Campbell and Gibson are having better seasons, Hellebuyck will likely be key as a former Vezina Trophy winner who finished in the top five two more times. Campbell has one of the best stats in the league and Gibson has made frequent appearances for USA Hockey putting in strong numbers with an improved Ducks team ahead of him. The US could choose to select Spencer Knight to give him the Olympic experience.
Other possibilities:Knight, Florida Panthers; Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles
Adam Fox, New York Rangers
Charlie McAvoy, Boston Bruins
Quinn Hughes, Vancouver Canucks
Jacob Slavin, Carolina Hurricanes
Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets
Seth Jones, Chicago Blackhawks
John Carlson, Washington Capitals
Torey Krug, St. Louis Blues
Analysis: Lots of offensive potential and puck moving ability in this group led by the reigning Norris Trophy winner Fox. Slavin was included for his ability to kill on penalties and his ability to take out. There is an even mix of right and left shots. Jones, who took over from the Blue Jackets in the off-season, could play alongside former teammate Werenski. Ask for American hockey. Does Brett Pesce make the team to play alongside Slavin?
Other possibilities:Pesce, hurricanes; Neal Pionk, Winnipeg Jets; Ryan McDonagh, Tampa Bay Lightning.
Austin Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
JT Miller, Vancouver Canucks
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Joe Pavelski, Dallas Stars
We assume Eichel will not be ready. If he is, he’s the No. 2 center. This group has goals in Matthews (No. 2 since he entered the NHL in 2017), size in Miller, speed in Larkin and experienced leadership in Pavelski. JackHughes would be a big possibility if he wasn’t injured. He could play his way into the team depending on how he fares once he returns. Anyway, the depth of the center does not match that of Canada.
Other possibilities:Hughes, New Jersey Devils; Vincent Trocheck, Carolina Hurricanes; Blake Coleman, Calgary Flames; Andrew Copp, Jets
Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Alex DeBrincat, Blackhawks
Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames
Johnny Gaudreau, Flames
Chris Kreider, New York Rangers
Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets
Troy Terry, Anaheim Ducks
Jake Guentzel, Pittsburgh Penguins
Max Pacioretty, Vegas Golden Knights
Brady Tkachuk, Ottawa Senators
Analysis: Kane is one of three players with the top 1,100 points since he entered the league in 2007, and DeBrincat has set big numbers alongside Kanein Chicago. Chemistry is also why Matthew Tkachuk and Gaudreau made this list. Connor is a finisher, Kreider thrives on power play and Guentzel is a strong complement to top players. Terry, who played in the 2018 non-NHL Olympics, should be rewarded for his strong start. Brady Tkachuk joins his brother in the team. Oshie and Pacioretty’s injury situations will have to be monitored. Both are versatile and as Oshie showed at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, he thrives in the shootout. But Oshie is injured again after returning for one game.
Other possibilities:Oshie, Washington Capitals; Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers; Drake Batherson, Ottawa Senators
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