With NHL players no longer attending the Olympics, it gives a chance for fans around to league to see some former players they used to cheer on don their countries colours. The Vancouver Canucks are no different as they will have multiple players who played for the franchise in the Olympics. Here are nine familiar names that could be taking the ice in Beijing in 2022.
Jordan Schroeder- Team USA
Jordan Schroeder was drafted by the Canucks 22nd overall in 2009. The Minnesota native had already dominated the World Juniors two years in a row and was coming off a successful season at the University of Minnesota. He looked like a can’t miss prospect and one that would dominate the center-ice position for Vancouver for years to come.
Despite some success in the AHL, Schroeder was never able to stick as an everyday NHL player. In the summer of 2019, he moved over to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and finds himself currently with Jokerit. He has 25 points in 34 games this season, ranking him third in team scoring. Although he may not be putting up monster numbers in the KHL, he should be part of Team USA at this year’s Olympics.
Reid Boucher- Team USA
Reid Boucher will be remembered as a player who lit up the AHL but was never given a chance with the Canucks. The AHL all-star only played 48 games for the Canucks, with only one of those games coming in the last two seasons he spent with Vancouver. Now, he can be found in the KHL with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, where he is second on the team in points with 24 through 43 games.
Just like Schroeder, Boucher should find his way onto Team USA. If he makes the team, it will be the first time he has represented his country since the 2010-11 season when he won U-18 Gold on Team USA. He should also get some power-play time as that has become somewhat of a specialty of his during his career.
Nikolay Goldobin- Team Russia
Nikolay Goldobin’s tenure in Vancouver was rocky. He did play well during the 2018-19 season when he put up 27 points in 63 games but never took full advantage of his opportunities with the Canucks. He spent almost the entire season in the AHL in 2019-20 before he left for Russia, signing a two-year deal with CSKA Moscow.
Now with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL, Goldobin is lighting up the league posting 36 points in 38 games. This could be enough to convince coach Alexei Zhamnov to name him to the Olympic team. If he is named, expect him to play power-play time and be in the top-six as Russia aims to defend their Gold Medal.
Alexandre Grenier- Team Canada
Drafted in the third round by Vancouver in 2011, Alexandre Grenier looked to be the perfect fourth-line center. He stands 6-foot-5, 201 pounds, and had a fantastic two seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). After years of bouncing between the NHL and AHL, he finally decided to head over to Europe, where he now plays in Switzerland’s National League (NL).
Since moving over to Europe, Grenier has taken full advantage of his opportunities. He is currently third in the league in points and second in assists. Watch for him to play a depth role on Team Canada during these Olympics, as he has definitely earned a spot.
Tyler Graovac- Team Canada
Tyler Graovac should be named to Team Canada as he was part of the Spengler Cup roster that was announced before the tournament was canceled. He played two seasons with the Canucks but only managed 22 games due to injury. During the 22 points, he had six points and even saw some time on the power play.
Graovac is now part of Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. This season, he has 25 points in 41 games, including ten goals. If named to Team Canada, he should play a depth role with some penalty kill time. A solid, experienced player, he should play a valuable role on the team come February.
Nicklas Jensen- Team Denmark
In 2011, the Canucks selected Nicklas Jensen with the 29th overall pick. The speedy winger was lightning up the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and helped Demark get promoted to the World Junior Championship. Unfortunately, he never stuck in the NHL and moved back to Europe for the 2017-18 season.
Jensen has spent the last five seasons with Jokerit of the KHL. He was also part of Denmark’s Olympic Qualification team during the summer and should play a big role for them in the tournament. Expect first-line minutes from the former first-rounder in Denmark’s men’s teams’ first-ever Olympic games.
Ronalds Ķēniņš- Team Latvia
Ronalds Ķēniņš was an exciting player during his two seasons with the Canucks. Although he did not crack the lineup consistently, he gave Vancouver fans something to cheer about during the 2014-15 and 2015-16 seasons. He can now be found in the NL with Lausanne HC, where he has played for the past four seasons.
Ķēniņš would have been on Team Latvia regardless of the NHL players not attending the Olympics. He is a mainstay on their World Championship roster and put up six points in three games during the Olympic qualifications. Look for him along with former Canucks draft pick Rodrigo Abols to play big roles for Team Latvia.
Markus Granlund- Team Finland
Markus Granlund played for the Canucks for parts of four seasons. He was a bottom-six player which helped coin the term “Sea of Granlund’s,” which is used in Vancouver to describe replacement players that are interchangeable at the bottom of a lineup. This is not the most flattering thing to be named after but ever since the late Athletic writer Jason Botchford came up with the term, it has stuck.
Fans can now find Granlund in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev Ufa. He has 33 points in 39 games this season and should be on Team Finland’s roster. He had success playing for his country at the 2013 World Juniors and will hope for a similar performance at this year’s Olympics.
Yannick Weber- Team Switzerland
When the Canucks acquired Yannick Weber, they thought they were getting the next great power-play quarterback. He had one of the hardest shots in the league and had been part of Team Switzerland’s 2010 Olympic team. Unfortunately, he never developed into the player Vancouver had hoped for and wasn’t re-signed during the 2016 off-season.
After only playing two games with the Penguins last season, Weber decided to retire from the NHL and head back home to Switzerland where he is playing for ZSC Lions. Although he is not putting up points as he used to, he should be a lock for Team Switzerland and could be part of a pairing with another former Canuck in Raphael Díaz. Look for him to play a big role in these games as he searches for his first career Olympic point this year.
Plenty of Former Canucks to Cheer For
Although no current Canucks players will be at the Olympics, there are still plenty of players to cheer for. With the number of former players, it is more than likely some will even return home with medals. The Canucks could have at least ten more former players in the games, including Ryan Spooner, Philip Larsen, Anton Rödin and Sergei Shirokov depending on how each country decides to build their teams. The games are scheduled to start on Feb 3, 2022, so make sure to check The Hockey Writers for updates on all the teams.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.