The 2022 Winter Olympics is less than three months away, and thus the exercise of building the perfect national team can begin in earnest. Of course, the big news about the international tournament was made public in September when it was announced that NHL players would be able to compete in the Olympics for the first time since 2014.
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Before his ousting, Team USA general manager Stan Bowman went out of his comfort zone and selected two Chicago Blackhawks, as well as Auston Matthews, as the first three representatives of Team USA. Joining Patrick Kane, Seth Jones, and Matthews will be an additional 19 skaters and three goaltenders. Some choices will be easy — Adam Fox, Charlie McAvoy, and Connor Hellebuyck are safe bets; however, the last few roster spots will be a challenge to fill out. With NHL clubs having roughly another 40 games to play before the break, the risk of injury and regression will remain a constant until the planes leave for Beijing. With that in mind, these final roster spots should be occupied by individuals who are playing great hockey in the months leading up to the tournament.
Cue the lights for Troy Terry, an American 24-year-old right winger for the Anaheim Ducks. On Sunday night, Terry scored a power play-goal to extend his league-leading point streak to 11 games. This season, Terry has transitioned from a prospect whose counting stats betrayed his good underlying statistics into a bona fide scoring threat on a suddenly potent offense. He’s playing the best hockey of his career, and it’s just in time for Beijing.
Terry’s Experience Representing Team USA
In 2017, Terry was on the American team that won the World Junior Championship, alongside highly-touted draft prospects like Clayton Keller and Jack Roslovic. Terry played the role of ‘American savior’ in the final two rounds of the tournament, going 3-for-3 in the shootout against Russia in the semifinal, as well as scoring the tournament-winning shootout goal against Canada. Team captain Luke Kenin said of Terry, “I know what he’s capable of and it didn’t surprise me at all but he was huge. I’m glad he’s getting the recognition for how good he is.”
Just one year later, Terry, still a junior at the University of Denver, was named to the Olympic team. He was one of four college athletes on the team, and his national heroics the year prior was almost certainly considered. Terry finished with five assists in as many games, as Team USA finished 7th in PyeongChang.
A Developing Star in the NHL
While Terry was establishing himself at the international level, his development at the NHL level has been more deliberate. He made his debut in 2018, but bounced between Anaheim and American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate San Diego a few times before playing 48 out of 56 games last season with the Ducks. His underlying numbers last season weren’t bad: a 51.7% Corsi for would imply that he was on the ice for more chances than he gave up, and managing a positive share of any statistic while playing for the Ducks last season should be considered a great achievement.
This year, however, the floodgates have opened. His underlying numbers have remained consistent, but his production has been kicked into another gear. Terry’s 14 points on the season is the sixth-most in the league, in a logjam with names like Johnny Gaudreau, Brad Marchand, and Steven Stamkos. His eight goals already marks a new career-high. His 32% shooting percentage is certainly a little bloated, but his 14 individual high-danger chances, along with the Ducks’ 2nd ranked 119 high-danger scoring chances, would indicate that Terry is taking advantage of his opportunities and there’s nothing to indicate that he’ll be slowing down.
American Right-Wingers: Patrick Kane, Brock Boeser, Matthew Tkachuk
Terry’s path to the Olympic team will be through a list of names that have established themselves at the NHL level for longer than he has. Kane’s place on the roster is secured and will likely be the top line right wing. Brock Boeser and Matthew Tkachuk also seem like locks, though Tkachuk’s propensity to commit penalties may be detrimental with a more punitive International Hockey Federation rule book.
If Terry were to make the team, it would likely be over veteran names like T.J. Oshie and Phil Kessel. Whoever steps in as the general manager of Team USA should put youth to the forefront, considering the success the junior program has had in recent years. Terry has a share in that success as much as anyone else in the program, and his heroics on the biggest stage should be enough to put him in the conversation to make the 2022 Olympic team. His emergence as a legitimate scoring threat in the NHL should be enough to make it a sure thing.
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I was born and raised in Mission Viejo, California, and currently live in Visalia, California. Graduated from CSUF in 2016 with a B.A. in Cinema and Television Arts. I’ve been a sports fan for my entire life, rooting for the Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Angels, Los Angeles Rams and Miami Heat. In my free time, I enjoy playing video games, trying to pour a perfect cup of coffee, and testing out a local craft beer.