Everyone is starting to put together their 2022 Winter Olympic rosters, and this time around the competition will look immensely different with the return of NHL players. We’ve listed our picks for 14 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 3 goalies to make the Team USA squad. How many will be returning from the 2014 Sochi roster, and how many younger players will get the chance to perform on the world stage over their veteran counterparts?
Alex Debrincat – Auston Matthews – Patrick Kane
Matthew Tkachuk – Jack Eichel – Kyle Connor
Johnny Gaudreau – Jack Hughes – Brock Boeser
Jake Guentzel – Dylan Larkin – Brady Tkachuk
Max Pacioretty – Joe Pavelski
These forward lines hold tons of fire power. For the first line, we’re bringing in the chemistry of Patrick Kane and Alex Debrincat. They’ve been unstoppable lately for the surging Blackhawks, finding ways to connect passes and create chances – making it look easy in doing so. Adding Leafs star Auston Matthews, who is one of the NHL’s premier finishers, to this top line makes it one of the most lethal forward trios in the entire olympics.
The “TEC” line features three elite playmakers. Matthew Tkachuk adds flare and snarl to the USA lineup. Jack Eichel has been in a tough spot playing on a failing Sabres team, but his talent is undeniable. Kyle Connor’s goal scoring ability rounds out a dangerous second line.
This third line is a personal favorite. Johnny Gaudreau is re-emerging as one of the NHL’s best wingers. He’s a must-watch for the Flames every night – the advanced stats might say otherwise – but the New Jersey native is an extremely fun player to watch. Jack Hughes is enjoying a break out year, posting 11 points in 14 games for the Devils, looking like the dynamic player he was drafted to be. Brock Boeser has been one of a few bright spots on the slumping Vancouver Canucks, tallying 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points in just 23 games in the North Division.
The fourth line features Jake Guentzel, Dylan Larkin, and Brady Tkachuk. This trio presents speed, and one can only imagine they’ll be skating in circles around other teams’ fourth lines. Dylan Larkin, one of the fastest NHL players, was just recently named captain of the Detroit Red Wings. Brady Tkachuk is an alternate captain on a young Senators team. Jake Guentzel is up to his usual antics, posting 15 points in 17 games so far this season.
The extras stand as Max Pacioretty and Joe Pavelski. Pavelski is a big question mark, as one of the league leaders in goal scoring, but it’s reasonable to ask if he can keep it up into next season at age 37. Despite off-season trade rumors, Max Pacioretty has produced 8 goals and 5 assists for 13 points in 16 games, and both these players could easily be inserted into the lineup.
It should be known as much as many want him on the team, and how sacrilegious it is, TJ Oshie’s recent slump for Washington kept him off this team. Before the Capitals beat New Jersey last weekend, Oshie had just two assists in his previous seven appearances. Not ideal.
Jaccob Slavin – Charlie McAvoy
Quinn Hughes – Jeff Petry
Zach Werenski – Adam Fox
Jakob Chychrun – John Carlson
Jaccob Slavin is one of the NHL’s best shutdown defensemen and despite never posting huge offensive numbers, is a lock for this USA lineup. He’s paired with Boston’s young star Charlie McAvoy, who has cemented himself as Boston’s next big name on the blueline, stepping up his game after the free agent departures of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara. He can easily be considered an early Norris Trophy candidate.
Quinn Hughes leads all defensemen in the league with 21 points, a four-point lead over Oilers D-man Tyson Barrie. He’s had a much bigger workload in his second NHL season, with injuries piling up on the Canucks’ back end. Jeff Petry has been another early season Norris candidate for the Canadiens, posting 16 points along with putting in solid work defensively.
Zach Werenski has been a great defender for Columbus, but is off to a disappointing start to the season after a 20-goal campaign a year ago. Adam Fox has been nothing short of impressive, really stepping up as the Rangers’ best defenseman. He’s been a real fun player to watch.
Jakob Chychrun has been a real standout on the Arizona Coyotes blue line as well. He’s been great defensively and showing signs of success quarterbacking the power play. He’s recorded 4goals and 9 assists for 13 points in 18 games, that in itself deserves some recognition. John Carlson was a Norris finalist last season, but has only been an offensive player and a defensive liability. Carlson has 5 goals and 10 assists for 15 points in 18 games.
John Gibson has been stuck on an Anaheim Ducks team that can’t really score, or defend. Despite the abysmal play in front of him, Gibson has held a .908 SV% and (as he did in Vegas earlier this month) has proven to teams around the league that he can steal games on his own. Connor Hellebuyck won the Vezina trophy last season and has held up as one of the NHL’s best goalies again, with a .916 SV% going 8-5-1. Finally, Calvin Petersen has impressed for the LA Kings in this truncated season with a .926 SV% as a rookie, and deserves to be on this team.