Many fans hoped that we would finally get to see Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid play together on Team Canada for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. Unfortunately, with the NHL no longer sending its players to China, that won’t be the case. However, Canada still has gold medal aspirations and a deep pool of players to choose from to represent the red and white.
On Jan. 24, Canada officially announced its men’s hockey roster for the Beijing Olympics, including a nice balance of veteran experience and youthful energy. General manager Shane Doan and head coach Claude Julien expect this team to improve on the bronze medal they earned in Pyeongchang.
Featured in this forward lineup is a former Olympian with Team Canada in 2010, a KHL star, and some talented youth.
Easily the most recognizable name on this team is 17-year NHL veteran Eric Staal. With 441 goals and 593 assists in 1,293 career NHL games, Staal will be leaned upon as a leader both on and off the ice at this tournament.
Staal was a member of Team Canada during the memorable 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Alongside NHL stars such as Sidney Crosby and Scott Niedermayer, he captured gold on home soil, highlighted by the famous “Golden Goal” against the USA.
His experience during the 2010 Olympics and his incredible NHL career, which likely will end with him in the Hockey Hall of Fame, are terrific intangibles that will surely help Canada achieve their goals this time around. Offensively or defensively, Staal will be a dominant force in this tournament.
Despite just playing 52 games in the NHL, Knight has developed into one of the premier offensive players in the KHL. With 48 points in 47 games with Avangard Omsk, the fifth-round pick by the Florida Panthers in 2009 is expected to be a significant offensive contributor for Canada in Beijing.
Knight will get opportunities to showcase his talents on the power play and be a physical presence on the ice when needed. Listed at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, he will be able to find success in battles along the boards and in front of the net. Don’t let his 12 career NHL points fool you; he can be an offensive force for Canada in this tournament. Knight will have an essential role on this team if Julien can find the right spot in the lineup for him.
After things with the New York Islanders didn’t go as planned, Josh Ho-Sang signed with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL in hopes of making a return to the NHL. Since he signed an AHL contract and not an NHL contract, he can play for Canada in Beijing and brings with him a spectacular combination of speed and skill to this roster.
Not many doubt that Ho-Sang doesn’t have the skill to play in the NHL, which should translate to him being a dynamic player on this roster. Doan and the management team are likely thrilled that he can represent Canada and has game-breaking skills that not many in this tournament can match.
The lone OHL player on this team is Hamilton Bulldogs star, Mason McTavish. This will be his second time presenting Canada in recent memory, as he also wore the red and white during the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championship. With that tournament getting canceled midway through the competition, you can be sure he is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to hit the ice at the Olympics wearing a Canada jersey.
McTavish had nine games of NHL experience with the Anaheim Ducks, where he had two goals and one assist before being sent back to the OHL for more development. His offensive abilities are tough to ignore, as he has a lethal shot that can beat a goalie from anywhere in the offensive zone. Even though he will just be turning 19 in a couple of days, McTavish will be relied upon to provide offence throughout the tournament.
Daniel Carr (HC Lugano, Swiss-A), Corban Knight (Omsk Avangard, KHL) Ben Street (Munich EHC, DEL), Jack McBain (Boston College, NCAA), Eric Staal (Iowa Wild, AHL), Adam Tambellini (Rogle BK Angelholm, SHL), Eric O’Dell (Moscow Dynamo, KHL), Daniel Winnick (Geneve Servette, Swiss-A), Adam Cracknell (Bakersfield Condors, AHL), Mason McTavish Hamilton Bulldogs, OHL), Landon Ferraro (Cologne Sharks, DEL), David Desharnais (Fribourg-Gotteron HC, Swiss-A), Jordan Weal (Kazan AK-Bars, KHL), Josh Ho-Sang (Toronto Marlies-AHL)
This defence group will include the most recent first overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft and some past NHL experience.
The first overall pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres was stellar at the 2022 World Junior Hockey Championships alongside Mason McTavish. He even became the first defenceman to score a hat trick for Canada at the tournament.
Listed at 6-foot-6, 214 pounds, the 19-year-old had the size to compete with older, more experienced players. His vision on the ice, along with his insanely high hockey IQ, will allow him to thrive in this role and be one of Canada’s top defencemen.
Power can quarterback the top power-play unit while also being responsible in his own zone. The Sabres must be thrilled that he’s getting this opportunity to develop his game on a worldwide stage such as the Olympics, and it likely won’t be the last time we see him represent his country.
An NHL veteran of 699 games, Demers will be the most experienced defenceman Canada sends to Beijing. In fact, he has more NHL experience than the other seven defencemen named have combined.
While players like Power will be relied upon offensively in a big way, it’s safe to say Demers will be the man Julien looks towards defensively in the most challenging moments. He will be a staple on the team’s penalty kill, as he had 771 blocks in his NHL career; he was never afraid to put his body on the line for the team.
Brandon Gormley (Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, KHL), Alex Grant (Jokerit Helsinki, KHL), Owen Power (Michigan, NCAA), Tyler Wotherspoon (Utica Comets, AHL), Mat Robinson (SKA St.Petersburg, KHL), Mark Barberio (Kazan Ak-Bars, KHL), Maxim Noreau (Zurich SC, KHL), Jason Demers (Kazan AK-Bars, KHL)
Usually, Canada’s biggest question mark belongs in the net, but they are hoping past IIHF brilliance can trickle into this tournament.
You might remember Devon Levi from his unbelievable performance at the 2021 World Junior Hockey Championship. With a .964 save percentage in seven games, he quickly captured the hearts of Canadians, and he will have the same opportunity again in Beijing.
Levi, a seventh-round pick by the Florida Panthers in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, is now a top goaltending prospect with the Buffalo Sabres. He’s currently a dominant force at Northeastern University with a .948 save percentage in 24 games played.
Levi will likely have every opportunity to be the starter on this team, and his performance of late leaves no reason to believe he can’t take the net and run with it. He’s done nothing but that and more wearing a Canada jersey thus far.
Devon Levi (Northeastern, NCAA), Edward Pasquale (Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, KHL), Matt Tomkins (Frolunda HC, SHL)
Overall, it’s very rare Canada participates in an IIHF tournament and isn’t considered one of the favourites, and this shouldn’t be an outlier. This is a very well-rounded team and will be highly competitive in every game they play at the Olympics.
We will have to wait for another day to see the NHL players compete on the most prominent international stage available. But, hopefully, you are still ready to enjoy some terrific hockey because this tournament is shaping up to be a phenomenal one, with Canada aiming to find themselves on top of the podium.
Sports writer covering the Minnesota Wild. Graduated with a degree in sport media, also working with the Oshawa Generals of the OHL.