The NHL is returning to the Olympics. After the NHL didn’t send players to the PyeongChang games in 2018, fans and players clamored for the league to send players to the next Winter Olympics. The best hockey players in the world will be showcased next year and some of these talents will likely come from the Los Angeles Kings. LA likely won’t have many players who make Olympic rosters, but they have a few who could represent their home countries.
Drew Doughty, Right-Handed Defenseman: Canada
Drew Doughty won’t be Canada’s top right-handed defender like he was in the past, but he’s a safe bet to at least make the team. His pedigree highlights a player who knows what it takes to win. He won gold medals in both the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, he is a two-time Stanley Cup champion and won the World Cup of Hockey in 2016. Due to his experience, he’d provide value to Canada. He could slot into the lineup in any capacity, whether it’s as a roster player or a spare that Canadian coach Jon Cooper could feel confident putting into the lineup.
In the 2020-21 NHL season, Doughty tallied 34 points, 91 hits, and 83 blocked shots. Among blueliners, he ranked 16th, tied for 39th, and tied for 38th in each respective category. The 2015-16 season’s Norris Trophy winner is no longer a perennial candidate for the award as he was in his prime, however, he’s still one of the NHL’s premier offensive blueliners and is one of the best defenders at combining his offensive talents with a very physical style.
Viktor Arvidsson, Right Wing: Sweden
Viktor Arvidsson has yet to don the Kings uniform, as he was acquired this offseason, but he is one of the team’s top contenders to see Olympic action. He knows how to put the puck in the back of the net, as he is a two-time, 30-goal scorer. His highest scoring season was in 2018-19, as he notched 34 goals in just 58 games played. Over the past two seasons, his goal scoring has fallen off from that career-high (he has 25 goals in the past two regular seasons; he’s played 107 games in that time). This has been attributed to a string of injuries that he’s sustained. Nevertheless, he is still a productive player who goes to the dirty areas of the ice, creating opportunities for himself and his teammates.
Arvidsson is also sound defensively. Although he’s not a physical player, he has a good defensive IQ and prevents opposing teams from generating scoring opportunities via his stick work. Last season, with the Nashville Predators, he had significantly better numbers regarding scoring chances (SCF%) and was slightly better in high-danger chances (HDCF%) than his team had in general.
Overall, this underscores how Arvidsson can control possession of the puck and keep it out of his own zone, as his SCF% was nearly four percent higher than Nashville’s average last season. Considering his scoring-touch, defensive play, and how he can control the game, he is a likely candidate to crack Sweden’s roster.
Cal Petersen, Goalie: USA
In 2020-21, Cal Petersen cemented himself as a name NHL fans should remember. In 35 games last season, he posted a 2.89 goals-against average (GAA), which ranked 41st in the league, but 16th among goalies who played in over 30 games. Additionally, he boasted a .911 SV%. This ranked 10th among goalies who played 30 or more games and was tied for 23rd among all goaltenders. Afterward, he participated in the 2021 IIHF World Championship and was lights out for Team USA. He went 5-2-0 and posted a .953 save percentage along with two shutouts en route to a bronze medal. He was named the goaltender of the tournament, becoming just the eighth U.S. player to earn a directorate honor at the IIHF World Championship.
Despite his recent success, it will be tough for him to make the American team’s roster. Former Vezina Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck should earn the starting role for the USA. Netminders such as John Gibson, Thatcher Demko, Alex Nedeljkovic and Jack Campbell will be in the conversation for a roster spot. Thus, he has stiff competition even to make the roster, but he could be an important player should he make the team.
Adrian Kempe, Left-Wing: Sweden
A longshot to participate in the 2022 Olympic Games is Adrian Kempe. The 24-year-old Swedish left-winger is unlikely to crack Team Sweden’s roster, but he could be in the mix. In the 2020-21 season, he scored 14 goals and produced 29 points. These aren’t earth-shattering numbers in any sense of the word, but they fit in with the players who are projected to be on Sweden’s fourth line. Tony Wolak of THW projected the Swedish fourth line to be composed of: Rickard Rakell, Elias Lindholm, and Jakob Silverberg. Kempe’s offensive touch doesn’t hold a candle to Lindholm’s (who nabbed 47 points in 2020-21) but is comparable to the Anaheim Ducks‘ duo.
|2020-21 Season||Points||Points Per Game|
This highlights how Kempe’s offensive game is comparable to players projected to be on Sweden’s fourth line. In the past, Rakell has shown a much higher ceiling in his offensive game than Kempe has, while Silverberg can kill penalties and contribute in every facet of the game. This hasn’t considered that a pure goal-scorer, Victor Olofsson, was listed as a spare on that projected roster.
Overall, Kempe is a longshot to make Team Sweden and it’s doubtful he would edge out any of the aforementioned players, but it isn’t outside the realm of possibilities.
Kings Have Olympic Caliber Players
The last time the NHL participated in the Olympic Games was in 2014. That year, six members of the Kings represented their countries in Sochi. For the 2022 Olympics, only two LA Kings (Doughty and Arvidsson) appear to be likely candidates to make a team. Both Petersen and Kempe will have some tough competition for an Olympic appearance. Overall, there likely won’t be as many fan favorites for Kings fans to watch compared to the last time the NHL participated in the Winter Olympics, but there should still be a few.
I am a lifelong hockey fan who will be covering the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks here at The Hockey Writers. Before joining The Hockey Writers I spent two years blogging about hockey.
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