clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Thursday FTB: Could any Leafs players go to the Olympics?

Players on NHL contracts can’t go, but that doesn’t mean prospects and others can’t.

Finland v Slovakia: Preliminary Round Group A - 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images

With the NHL announcing they would not be allowing players to go to the Olympics due to the Omicron variant causing chaos to hockey leagues and tournaments all over the world already, every country is now scrambling to come up with their best possible rosters.

But some countries will have an easier time than others.

The rule, per a Darren Dreger tweet, seems to be that any player on an NHL contract will not be allowed to attend. That means no one like Cole Perfetti or Peyton Krebs, who are in the AHL but on NHL deals. So that is not just limited to any player currently on an NHL roster, it may also include those in the AHL who are on an NHL deal.

If that holds true, that not only means the obvious choices like Auston Matthews won’t be going to the Olympics. For the Maple Leafs, it may also include guys like Kristians Rubins who are in the AHL but also have NHL contracts.

For North Americans, that leaves the best being drawn from a mix of NCAA players — who have not yet signed a professional contract — and aged veterans who play in Europe. It may also include the AHL, as long as the player is on an AHL contract.

What isn’t clear is if a prospect playing in Europe who has signed their ELC could participate. For example, Pontus Holmberg is one of Sweden’s top pro players in the SHL. He’d be a worthy player for Team Sweden... but he has signed an ELC.

But it means that guys like Topi Niemelä, who is one of the top pro defensemen in the Finnish Liiga this year, would be perfectly free to play for Finland — he has not signed an ELC yet. It also means that Matthew Knies, who is in the NCAA and one of the top freshmen, may have an outside shot of playing for Team USA. And wouldn’t that be fun! Getting denied the WJC because of COVID, only for COVID to create an opportunity for them to play in the Olympics as young prospects.

Russia is totally going to win though.

LEAFS LINKS

William Nylander takes team lead in points as Maple Leafs beat Oilers 4-2 | by Hardev and Omar

UPDATE: More Toronto games postponed for Covid and for rescheduling purposes | by Katya

Morgan Rielly’s 200-foot excellence, trade deadline targets, and who are the Leafs’ top 12 forwards when healthy? | by MLHS

MISCELANNEOUS HOCKEY LINKS

Edmonton’s risky off-season plan in net is reaching a crisis | by Sportsnet

Speaking of Edmonton’s goalies... one of them wasn’t too happy about being thrown under the bus by his coach.

The Penguins and Blackhawks swung a trade yesterday.

The Habs hired a new VP of Communications.

Some rumours the Canucks be shopping their backup goalie. I know another western conference team who could use him!

Speaking of the Canucks, they’ll be without one of their top stars due to COVID.