Sidney Crosby playing for Team Canada at the Olympics
(Photo Credit: @NHL/ Twitter).

With the 2021-22 NHL season in full swing, the anticipation for Olympic hockey grows every day. NHL players will get a chance to suit up for their countries in the Olympics for the first time since 2014. This series will dive deeper into my projected hockey rosters and why I chose certain players and left others out.

Sidney Crosby, Connor McDavid and Alex Pietrangelo have already been named to Canada’s hockey team for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Many other roster positions are up for debate, including the goaltending position. No matter who Team Canada ends up selecting, they’re bound to end up with another stacked Olympic hockey roster.

The Canadians took home gold in 2010 Vancouver and 2014 Sochi. They’ll be looking to threepeat in Olympics featuring NHL players. Canada finished third at the 2018 South Korea Winter Olympic which featured no NHL players.

Here are my projected forwards, defensemen and goalies for the Team Canada 2022 Olympic hockey roster:

Projected Team Canada Olympic Hockey Roster

Left-WingCenterRight-Wing
Nathan MacKinnonConnor McDavidMitch Marner
Jonathan HuberdeauSidney CrosbyPatrice Bergeron
Steven StamkosBrayden PointMathew Barzal
Brad MarchandSean CouturierMark Stone
Mark Scheifele Ryan O'Reilly
Left-DefenseRight-DefenseGoalie
Shea TheodoreAlex PietrangeloMarc-Andre Fleury
Thomas ChabotCale MakarCarey Price
Adam PelechDougie HamiltonCarter Hart
Jakob ChychrunAaron Ekblad

Forwards Lines:

Nathan MacKinnon – Connor McDavid – Mitch Marner

This will be the fastest line at the 2022 Olympics if this pairing comes to fruition. Speed kills and there isn’t a D-core out there that would be able to keep up with these guys. McDavid alone is matchup proof and MacKinnon is not far behind — much like recent Hart Trophy races. Marner, meanwhile, is used to playing with top talents and will blend in perfectly on the right side. Speed is everyone’s biggest asset on this line, yet the scary thing is they can all score and make plays at the highest level.

Jonathan Huberdeau – Sidney Crosby – Patrice Bergeron

A responsible defensive line that can also score. Anchored by NHL veterans in Crosby and Bergeron, this line should dominate on both sides of the ice. Given their defensive ability, any opposing team will have a hard time winning this matchup battle. Jonathan Huberdeau adds some speed and goal-scoring touch to this savvy second line.

Steven Stamkos – Brayden Point – Mathew Barzal

Reuniting Tampa stars Point and Stamkos was a pretty easy decision. I also almost did the same with Bergeron and Marchand. Clearly, the chemistry between the Lightning players will give this line a nice advantage. These two players have unique skill sets to play off one another. Both Point and Mat Barzal are better suited as playmakers, so adding a scoring winger to the line was a must. With Stamkos’s pace of play decreasing, adding one of the fastest NHL players in Barzal helps compensate a bit. All players have experience at the center-ice position, which means zone play is unlikely to be an issue.

┬áBrad Marchand – Sean Couturier – Mark Stone

Canada’s grind and matchup line would be an absolute nightmare to matchup against. Sean Couturier and Mark Stone profile as the best two-way players in the NHL. Both players have finished in the top-five of Selke trophy race, with Couturier winning it for the 2019-20 season. Add the NHL’s single biggest pest in Brad Marchand, and opposing lines are unlikely to find much production.


Defensive Pairings:

Shea Theodore – Alex Pietrangelo┬á

My projected Team Canada top defensive pairing features two current Golden Knights players in Theodore and Pietrangelo. Similarly to Werenski and Jones on Team USA, familiarity is key. Theodore is one of the best young offensive blueliners in the game and fits perfectly alongside the veteran Pietrangelo. Petro contributes on both sides of the puck, while offering leadership attributes.

Thomas Chabot- Cale Makar

Two of the best young defenseman in the NHL who both play with great speed and awareness. Both players are elite at zone exits and driving the puck up ice. Unquestionably, they will drive tons of offense from the back-end. Makar possesses everything you want in the modern day defenseman in his skating, IQ, shot and hands. Considering how young these two are, Team Canada will look to groom these them throughout the Olympics. They will undoubtedly be the face of Canada’s blueline for years.

Adam Pelech – Dougie Hamilton┬á

He’s not flashy and plays for an Islanders team that doesn’t get much coverage, but Adam Pelech is one of the best defenseman in the NHL. Although he can contribute offensively, Pelech is best known for his solid defensive play. He’s consistently paired against team’s top lines and has still posted impressive statistics and results. Hamilton, meanwhile, is one of the most offensively gifted defenseman currently in the NHL. His elite offensive skills has allowed him to be top of the NHL in driving offense from the back-end. His defense is not always where you’d like it to be, however, so pairing him with Pelech makes perfect sense.

Jakob Chychrun – Aaron Ekblad

Arguably both Jakob Chychrun and Aaron Ekblad are coming off careers years in Arizona and Florida, respectively. Both players can slot in on any defensive pairing and inject contributions on the offensive side of things in particular.


Starting Netminders:

Marc-Andre Fleury

Its difficult to not have the reigning Vezina winner as one of your three goalies — let alone the starter. Between him and Carey Price, it’ll come down to who’s playing the best at the time. Whichever goalie is in better form in February will get the nod to start for Team Canada. Either way, expect the Flower to be the #1 or #2 netminder going into the Olympics.

Carey Price

If his recent playoff performance is any indication as to what has he left in the tank, Carey Price will be named Canada’s starter fairly quickly. However, his last few regular seasons have seen his overall numbers drop due to substandard play. Both him and Fleury aren’t getting any younger yet both want one last chance to represent their country.

Carter Hart

Arguably the goalie of the future for Team Canada IF he can get back on track this season. We saw in his rookie year the exceptional talent and potential that he has. Hart had an abysmal third year, though, in which he was one of the league’s worst goalies. The Flyers have cleaned up their blueline, however, and are giving Hart the help he needs to return to form. Much like the young pairing of Chabot and Makar, Team Canada is going to want to give their future goalie core experience at the Olympic level.


Powerplay

PP1: Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Brad Marchand, Cale Makar

PP2: Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patrice Bergeron, Brayden Point, Dougie Hamilton/Shea Theodore


Notable exclusions: Kris Letang, Taylor Hall, John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Ryan Ellis, Travis Konecny, Jordan Binnington, MacKenzie Blackwood, Tyler Seguin, Alexis Lafreniere, Anthony Cirelli, Bo Horvat, Logan Couture, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber.

Although other countries like USA, Finland, Russia are chasing down Canada at the top of the hockey pyramid, there isn’t an Olympic roster as good as the Canadians. This is especially true when when it comes to Canada’s projected forward group. On paper (and ice), Canada should be far and away the best team in the Beijing Olympics.

Canada has the past and future generations best player in Crosby and McDavid, while also boasting several of the NHL’s best two-way players. A mix of offensively skilled and reliable defenders creates one of the strongest bluelines at the tournament. Meanwhile in the crease, the Canadians can rely on any of their three goalies on a nightly basis.


Other Countries Olympic Roster Projections:

Projected Team USA 2022 Olympic Hockey Roster