With the 2018 Olympic Games underway in Pyeongchang, the storyline for the men’s hockey tournament continues to be the absence of NHL players. This year’s team has their own story to tell, but not with the familiar names we’ve grown accustomed to, like Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane and T.J. Oshie.
We’ve likely seen the last of a few USA Hockey heroes with regard to Olympic competition. Players like Phil Kessel, Joe Pavelski and Zach Parise may have prominent roles with their respective NHL clubs today, but will probably see their skills regress over the next four years. By the time the 2022 Olympic Games kick off in Beijing, we could see a whole new group of players lead the United States.
It should be noted that the NHL has not officially committed to participating in the 2022 Games. However, it does help that the NHL played preseason games in China this year and IIHF president Rene Fasel is committed to bringing back Olympic hockey with NHLers.
So if the NHL allows its players to compete in the next Winter Olympic Games, what would Team USA’s roster look like? Let’s take a look.
Projected 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Roster
Here’s how the United States men’s hockey team could fill out when the world gathers in Beijing for the 2022 Olympic Games:
Olympic Roster Breakdown
While there are a few familiar faces like Kane, Quick and Cam Fowler, the majority of players will be participating in their first Olympics.
- Players from 2014 Olympic Games: 4
- Players from 2016 World Cup of Hockey (Team USA): 2
- Players from 2016 World Cup of Hockey (Team North America): 12
- Players with no international experience*: 9
*Excluding World Junior Classic tournaments and other non-professional-level tournaments.
Team USA Forwards
Remember when Team North America took the 2016 World Cup of Hockey by storm? A bunch of those forwards will be leading the United States Olympic team in a few years. Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau highlight a deep forward group with speed to burn.
Kane is the elder statesman of the forward lineup and will likely still have some gas in the tank in 2022. He’s only gotten better since the previous Olympic Games and may not regress as quickly as others his age. Plus, having Eichel has his center will certainly translate into a strong offensive output for the international veteran.
Headlining the “new faces” bunch are Brock Boeser, Clayton Keller and Casey Mittelstadt. If Boeser and Keller can build off of their impressive rookie seasons and establish themselves as NHL stars over the next few years, offense won’t be a concern of whoever is selected to coach Team USA. Mittelstadt could be added as a spare forward, as he’ll still be relatively green, but has a bright future ahead of him. The international experience would be a solid investment in Mittelstadt by USA Hockey.
Defending the United States
While Quick, Fowler and Justin Faulk have Olympic experience, the trio will likely be pushed to the sidelines by the next wave of American talent.
On defense, Columbus’ duo of Seth Jones and Zach Werenski are quickly establishing themselves as top-pairing defensemen. And much to the benefit of both the Blue Jackets and the United States, neither will have hit 30 by the 2022 Winter Olympics. Between Jones, Werenski, Charlie McAvoy and Shayne Gostisbehere, Team USA will have a dynamic top-four manning the point.
In net, it’s anyone’s guess who will start for the United States. Both John Gibson and Connor Hellebuyck have had terrific 2017-18 campaigns and will be in their prime four years down the road. In a few years, this tandem could possibly be the best in the world if the two continue to develop at their present pace.
Just Aged Out
Kessel, RW; Oshie, RW; Pavelski, C; Parise, LW; Blake Wheeler, RW; Ryan Suter, D; Dustin Byfuglien, D; Ryan McDonagh, D.
Just Missed Out
Jack Hughes, C; Matthew Tkachuk, LW; Kevin Shattenkirk, D; John Carlson, D; Jake Guentzel, LW, Cory Schneider, G.