Which Chicago Blackhawks Could Represent Their Countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics?

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Which Chicago Blackhawks Could Represent Their Countries at the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Chicago Blackhawks

We are just one year away from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, and the NHL is set to allow its players to return to the Olympic games after bowing out of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The new NHL collective bargaining agreement, signed in July, allows for players to represent their countries at the 2022 games, but was a major point of contention among NHL owners (mainly because the league shuts down in the middle of the season, and the owners get zero benefit from players heading to play in the tournament and have to endure all the risks involved (see: Kirby Dach)).

But the last hurdle to cross to ensure that the NHL will send players to the Olympics in 2022 is not the league itself or the IIHF, it’s the IOC. The main reason the NHL did not send players to the 2018 games was largely due to the lack of IOC financial support of the players and the league. Of course, you also have to consider what the world looks like in a year because of COVID. So this is all something to worry about in the future. As it stands, it is likely that NHL players will be headed to the 2022 Winter Olympics.

With that in mind, I wanted to look at the Chicago Blackhawks and see which players could potentially head to Beijing to represent their respective countries in the tournament.

There are 12 teams that will participate in the 2022 Men’s Hockey tournament at the Beijing Winter Olympics: Canada, USA, Germany, Russia, Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, Switzerland, China, and three countries still to qualify. Those three qualifying countries will be determined in a pre-Olympics qualification tournament. So we’ll focus on the nine countries already set to participate.

To start, the Blackhawks have no players from China on their NHL or AHL rosters or realistically in their prospect system. Chicago has at least one NHL, AHL, or high-level unsigned player from seven countries set to play in the 2022 Winter Olympics, and one unsigned drafted player from Germany.

(* – Unsigned Prospect)

Canada

•   Duncan Keith
•   Jonathan Toews
•   Brent Seabrook
•   Kirby Dach
•   Malcolm Subban
•   Dylan Strome
•   Andrew Shaw
•   Ian Mitchell
•   Matthew Highmore
•   Brandon Hagel
•   Calvin de Haan
•   Nicolas Beaudin
•   John Quenneville

It almost feels slanderous to say, but the days of Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith being Team Canada stalwarts is LOOONG gone. Toews and Keith won Olympic Gold medals with the 2010 and 2014 Canadian teams, but very well could have been left off Team Canada in 2018, had NHL players been able to go to the games. Seabrook won Gold with Canada in 2010, but again, his days are behind him. You have to essentially be the elite of the elite in the NHL to make Team Canada at this point. No one on this list is at that level. Maybe the 2026 Winter Olympics set to take place in Milan will see someone like Kirby Dach in the mix for Team Canada, maybe.

United States

•   Patrick Kane
•   Alex DeBrincat
•   Connor Murphy
•   Ryan Carpenter
•   Collin Delia
•   Chad Krys
•   Alec Regula
•   Evan Barratt

Much like with Team Canada, you have to be near the elite of the elite in the league to be considered for Team USA. Patrick Kane is the only shoo-in here. He was the Team USA Captain at the 2018 and 2019 World Championships and is still one of the best wingers in the NHL. He’ll likely finish his career known as the best US-born player in NHL history. Kane was part of the 2010 Silver medal team for the US, the last Olympic medal for Team USA. Outside of Kane, it’s possible that Alex DeBrincat gets a look for Team USA if he can return to his prolific goal-scoring profile that we saw in his first two NHL seasons. Outside of that, not much else for the Blackhawks to offer Team USA.

Sweden

•   Carl Söderberg
•   Mattias Janmark
•   Anton Lindholm
•   Lucas Carlsson
•   Adam Boqvist
•   Alexander Nylander
•   Lucas Wallmark
•   Tim Söderlund

There’s not much here for the Blackhawks to offer Team Sweden ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics. Söderberg represented Sweden at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and the 2017 World Championships, but he is not going to be at the level that would warrant a spot with the Swedes. Mattias Janmark won the 2018 World Championship Gold Medal with Sweden, but isn’t likely to play a role in an Olympic capacity. There is a chance that in the 2026 Winter Olympics, players like Adam Boqvist or Alexander Nylander are in play for the Swedes, but that’s wishful thinking at this point and they may or may not be part of the Blackhawks organization by that time.

Finland

•   Kevin Lankinen

The only Finnish representative for the Blackhawks has some recency bias working for him. Lankinen is off to a hot start in his rookie NHL season and helped Team Finland win the 2019 World Championships Gold medal. It’ll take a Calder Trophy winning effort from Lankinen to be in the running to take the starting spot on Team Finland away from Tuukka Rask. He’ll have stiff competition with Juuse Saros, Joonas Korpisalo, and Antti Raanta in the mix as well.

Germany

•   Lukas Reichel

It seems unlikely, but there might be a chance that 2020 first-round draft pick Lukas Reichel could be in the running for a spot with Team Germany in 2022. There’s a few NHL players that are at the top of the list for roster consideration like Leon Draisaitl, Dominik Kahun, Tobias Reider, and Tim Stützle, but beyond that the forwards group is open for Reichel to make a case. Reichel has 32 points in 55 professional games in the DEL with Eisbären Berlin.

Russia

•   Nikita Zadorov
•   Andrei Altybarmakyan
•   Ivan Nalimov*
•   Max Shalunov*
•   Artur Kayumov*

Chicago may have a few contenders for Team Russia. Nikita Zadorov helped the Russians win the Bronze medal at the 2019 World Championships, and the Russian defensive depth is usually thin, which could play in Zadorov’s favor since he is far from an elite talent in the NHL. The other player in the mix for Russia would be long-time Blackhawks “prospect” Max Shalunov. Drafted in 2011, the Blackhawks have held Shalunov’s rights ever since, with just one AHL season to his name with the Rockford IceHogs in 2013-14. Shalunov has been a quality KHL player over the past near-decade and was a 2019 Gagarin Cup Champion with CSKA Moscow. He last played with Team Russia during the 2018 World Championships.

Czech Republic

•   Dominik Kubalík
•   David Kämpf
•   Michal Teply
•   Michael Krutil*
•   Matěj Chalupa
•   Jakub Galvas*

Here we can add another Blackhawks player to the list with Dominik Kubalík for the Czech Republic. Kubalík made a name for himself with his performance at the 2019 World Championships, scoring 12 points in 10 games. He also suited up for the Czech Republic for the 2018 Winter Olympics and World Championships. He’s one of the top Czech forwards in the NHL and will likely take a roster spot. Beyond Kubalík, David Kämpf may find a spot as a depth forward, but unlikely. Looking ahead to the 2026 Winter Olympics, potential for Michael Krutil and Michal Teply to be in the mix after playing top-line roles for the Czech at the recent World Junior Championships.

Switzerland

•   Pius Suter
•   Philipp Kurashev

Not a deep talent pool for the Swiss, but the Blackhawks might have two of the better options for Team Switzerland. Rookies Pius Suter and Philipp Kurashev have been bright spots for Chicago early on this season and all signs point to them being in the mix come this time next year. Suter was the 2019-20 NLA MVP and has already represented Team Switzerland before at the 2017 World Championships and 2018 Winter Olympics. Kurashev suited up for the Swiss at the 2019 World Junior Championships and World Championships, scoring 11 points in 15 total games played. With the early trajectory that their NHL careers are on, no reason to think that they won’t be selected to represent Switzerland this time next year.

So my final breakdown looks like this for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics:

Locks: Patrick Kane (USA), Dominik Kubalík (CZE), Pius Suter (SUI), Philipp Kurashev (SUI)
Likely: Alex DeBrincat (USA), Lukas Reichel (GER)
Iffy: Kevin Lankinen (FIN), Nikita Zadorov (RUS), David Kämpf (CZE)
Most likely not: Mattias Janmark (SWE), Connor Murphy (USA)
Nope: Everyone else

See you in a year to see how well I did!



Author: Mario Tirabassi

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.