Being selected to play for your country at the Winter Olympic Games is an honor for hockey players, but the NHL hasn’t allowed their players to be involved in the Games since 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Canada ended up beating Sweden in the gold medal game that year. In 2014, the Vancouver Canucks had eight players who were selected to represent their country.
The NHL has until August to make a decision on if they will allow their players to attend the Olympics in 2022. If the answer is yes, Canucks fans can look forward to seeing their favorite players representing their countries.
Bo Horvat is likely the only current Canuck who will have an opportunity to represent Canada at the 2022 Olympics. Horvat isn’t a lock for Team Canada, but he could be useful for playing in the bottom six for the team. He would likely be playing a defensive role since players such as Connor McDavid, Sidney Crosby, and Nathan MacKinnon would handle the offensive load. The captain previously represented his country at the 2014 World Junior Championships and the IIHF World Championships in 2018. He has 22 goals and 53 points in 69 games so far in his first season as captain.
In 2014, Roberto Luongo made his return in net to win his second Olympic gold medal, while Dan Hamhuis was selected for the first time to play in the Olympics. Luongo served as the backup goaltender in 2014 behind Carey Price and had a shutout win in the one game he played, while Hamhuis played in five of the six games during the tournament.
There is no doubt that Sweden will select Elias Pettersson in 2022. He will be one of the star players to represent the country and a leader for them as well. He continues to develop into a superstar in the league, already matching his point total from last season in three fewer games. His 66 points are good for second among Swedish players, behind Mika Zibanejad’s 75 points. Pettersson won gold with Sweden during the 2018 World Championships. He was injured early in the tournament, but he managed to post three points in the first five games.
Jacob Markstrom is another Canuck who will be selected to start in net for Sweden. He has 23 wins in 43 starts this season, which leads all Swedish goaltenders in the NHL. The only question with Markstrom is whether or not he will still be a Canuck in 2022, with his contract up this offseason.
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In 2014, Sweden selected Henrik and Daniel Sedin, who had both won gold at the 2006 Winter Olympics, and Alex Edler was selected for the first time as well. Henrik missed out on playing in the Olympics due to a rib injury and sat out in fear of risking further injury. Edler missed the first two games Sweden played as an extension of a previous suspension. Daniel led all Swedish forwards with five points through the tournament.
Team USA will likely feature the most Canucks players in 2022. Brock Boeser, Quinn Hughes, and J.T. Miller all should be strong considerations to play for their country. Boeser is 18th in points for American players since entering the league in 2017-18 with 71 goals and 156 points in 188 games. He will be a key contributor to the team’s offense and will likely play in their top six.
Hughes is 15th this season for points among Americans with 53 in 68 games and is the third-highest American defenceman behind John Carlson and Tony DeAngelo. He will likely be a lock on the left side of Team USA’s defense as the other two D-men ahead of him play on the right side. He could potentially play with his brother, Jack, once again.
J.T. Miller leads the Canucks in points with 72 in 69 games, which is good for sixth among American players. He has been a big surprise for the team this season and will be selected alongside Boeser and Hughes if he continues to produce as he has this season.
Ryan Kesler was the lone Canuck to be selected to Team USA in 2014 in his last season with the team. The team lost in the semi-final to Canada, while Kesler had four points in six games. He won silver with Team USA at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and scored in the second period of the gold medal game to cut Canada’s lead in half.
Other Potential Olympians
Besides the five players mentioned above, Yannick Weber represented Team Switzerland and prospect Ronald Kenins played for Latvia. Similar to Kenins, the Canucks have plenty of prospects who could potentially play for their country. Vasiliy Podkolzin the 10th overall pick from the 2019 NHL draft, may get an opportunity to represent Russia. By 2022, the Russian forward should be playing on the main roster. He played for Russia at the 2020 WJC, where he won the silver medal and had five points in seven games.
Nils Hoglander could also take a spot on team Sweden in 2022. The second-round pick led team Sweden to the semi-finals at the 2020 WJC with 11 points in seven games.
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Besides the two 2019 draft picks, Thatcher Demko could go to Beijing as well to represent Team USA in net. Canucks could have up to four players playing for Team USA in 2022, which would be the most. The Canucks could have up to nine players representing their countries in 2022, which would be one more than 2014.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.