FanPost

Projecting Team Canada’s Men’s Ice Hockey Roster at the 2022 Beijing Olympics

Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

I understand that this is not really Maple Leaf’s related news, but there’s not much news going on in the world of Toronto Hockey (or any Hockey), so why not? After all, the Olympics are one of the most amazing spectacles of hockey to ever watch, featuring the best of the best players from around the globe. The stakes are higher, the ice is bigger and honestly when else are you ever going to see Canadians cheering for Brad Marchand?

As part of the conversation discussing the new CBA, the NHL and NHLPA have openly said that they will discuss the possibility of allowing NHLers to compete in 2022. While unlikely, there is still a slim chance that we may finally see 87 and 97 sharing the ice together. So why not have fun with that idea and come up with projections for Team Canada’s men’s roster.

With that all said, let’s get into it.

Head Coach: Jon Cooper

For the past few years, Team Canada has been run by the 700-win legend himself in Mike Babcock. Unfortunately, due to "recent" events (exactly a year ago actually) of Babs being fired from his former team I would be surprised to see him suit up once more behind the bench.

Jon Cooper was by far the best man to takeover as Team Canada’s head coach. He has a legendary coaching record that has him winning on almost every level of hockey, including him finally capturing the Stanley Cup not too long ago. He has a boat load of experience coaching an all-star team, and there many parallels between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Team Canada. Cooper knows how to get the best out of the all-star players, and there’s no reason why he can’t repeat the same performance in the 2020 playoffs for Team Canada two years from now. The only thing missing from Cooper’s resume is an Olympic gold….

Forwards:

Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon battling for the puck

Jonathan Huberdeau

Connor McDavid

Nathan MacKinnon

Steven Stamkos

Brayden Point

Mark Stone

Brad Marchand

Sidney Crosby

Patrice Bergeron

John Tavares

Mark Schiefele

Mitchell Marner

Extras: Matthew Barzal, Sean Couturier

Damm that’s deep.

As usual, Team Canada is going to put up an absolute powerhouse group of forwards for the Olympics. Time and time again, Canada’s forwards have always been the backbone of the team and there’s no reason why this group can’t find the same success in putting the puck in the back of the opponent’s net as the previous rosters. That said, let’s do a line-by-line breakdown, to analyze why everyone ended up where they did.

Line 1: Huberdeau – McDavid – MacKinnon

McDavid and MacKinnon are the two best forwards in the entire league, period. I don’t think a single person reading this is surprised to see the two of them on the roster. They both got speed, nasty hands, insane play-making abilities and did I mention that they’re both fast? The two former Team North America players are both in a league of their own and there’s not a single Canadian viewer who cannot wait to see them share the ice together.

To the left of these two all-stars features one of the most underrated wingers in the entire league in Jonathan Huberdeau. While the Quebec native does not get too much time in the spotlight compared to others on the roster, he has shown himself to be a dynamic forward who has put up a 1point/game pace in the last two seasons. Huberdeau will fit well with McDavid and MacKinnon and will complement his linemates with his intelligent playmaking and puck-getting abilities. On a team where most of the forwards plays center, it will be also be nice to have an experienced winger play alongside the two best players in the world.

Line 2: Stamkos – Point – Stone

A few years ago, if you had asked most hockey fans if Brayden Point and Mark Stone should be on the 2022 Canadian team, most people would have responded with "who?"

Brayden Point has cemented himself as one of the leagues best goal-scorers after putting up 92 points in the 2018-2019 season and anchoring the Lightning to a 2020 cup championship after being the leading goal scorer in the playoffs. His numbers speak for themselves, and there’s no denying his strength of being one of the best centers in the entire league. Alongside Point is a familiar face in Steven Stamkos, who seems to have the worst luck in the world when it comes to playing in the Olympics. Fans have been waiting to see a healthy Stamkos take the Olympic stage and imagine how well Stammer will do playing alongside his fellow Stanley Cup champion. Last but certainly not least is Mark Stone, who had a breakout season this year and made a name for himself by becoming one of the best two-way forwards to play the game. While he may not be as strong of a goal scorer compared to some of his teammates, his defensive strengths and passing skills will be an asset playing alongside his Tampa linemates.

Line 3: Marchand – Crosby – Bergeron

It’s kind of crazy seeing Crosby playing the third line of any team. Heck, its crazy seeing any of these three playing on the third line, but don’t let their ages underestimate the strength that this lineup has.

Flashback to four years ago, and this line was unstoppable at the World Cup of Hockey with Crosby getting 10 points, and Marchand scoring seven goals all in only six games. Despite all three of them being well into their 30s by the time 2022 comes around, they all still posses the same skills that have followed them around throughout all their careers. With Crosby’s vision, Marchand’s sniper of a shot and Bergeron’s ability to get pucks to his teammates, there is no reason why this line can’t continue their World Cup dominance into the Olympic games.

Line 4: Tavares – Schiefele – Marner

I think it’s a testament to how strong Team Canada is, that these three players are being used as their fourth line.

Schiefele is a dynamic forward, who has been the backbone of the Jets’ offense by producing at a rate higher than 1pt/game for the past four seasons. While he may not have Patrik Laine around to help get the puck in the net, I’m sure he’ll find no trouble racking up assists by passing the puck to John Tavares who continues his elite goal scoring. Imagine how powerful this line can be when Schiefele passes the puck forward to Tavares, who can use his clever stick handling to get a shot off the slot.

What can be better than having one Leaf on the line? Well how about having two Leafs on your line. Despite the comments people have made about Marner being overpaid, he’s still an incredibly fast and agile winger, with soft hands that know how to get the puck to his teammates. The three of them together can make forth a beast of a fourth line that can step in and generate offense in-between the shifts of the other dominant lines.

Extra Forwards

When people think of Matthew Barzal, one word usually comes to mind: speed. I’ll let his all-star game performance speak himself, remember the one where he beat McDavid in the fastest skater competition? In a place like the Olympics where the ice is bigger, having speedy players is a huge asset and its great having a player like Barzal around to fill that niche if required.

Sean Couturier has been pushing hard to get the Philadelphia Flyers to a deep cup run and is one of the biggest reasons why that team was so successful this past year. The 2020 Selke winner plays a strong two-way game that can also play a unique role in the lineup if required.

Missed the Cut: Ryan O'Rielly, Taylor Hall, Bo Harvat

Defense