We talked earlier this week about the NHL leaving the Olympics to the amateurs and non-NHL roster players and bringing back the World Cup of Hockey bi-annually in the Summer before the NHL season begins. With the complications that the NHL and NHLPA ran into this year with COVID and the issues in 2018 between the league and the IIHF and IOC, having the ability to host their own “Best vs. Best” tournament on their own terms, in their own venues, and make money off of it makes sense for all parties involved. Plus, you guarantee the best Men’s players in the world the opportunity, more often than every four years, to play in the most talented tournament in the world.
Keeping the major five nations (USA, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland) and the two “All-Star” teams (Europe, North America), I took a shot at making the eight 25-player rosters that would make-up a hypothetical 2022 World Cup of Hockey. Enjoy.
Forwards: Patrick Kane (C), Auston Matthews (A), Blake Wheeler (A), Alex DeBrincat, Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin, Matthew Tkachuk, Kyle Connor, Johnny Gaudreau, J.T. Miller, Jake Guentzel, Max Pacioretty, Troy Terry, Clayton Keller
Defense: Adam Fox, Charlie McAvoy, John Carlson, Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, Jaccob Slavin, Tory Krug, Ryan McDonagh
Goalies: Connor Hellebuyck, Thatcher Demko, Jack Campbell
Basically the team that would have gone to the Olympics this year, the U.S. was going to have a very good chance at capturing their first Olympic Gold Medal since 1980 at the 2022 Beijing Games. With that not happening, this U.S. side would again be a favorite in the tournament and would hopefully do better than their showing in 2016, where they failed to get out of their group.
Forwards: Connor McDavid (C), Sidney Crosby (A), Steven Stamkos (A), Jonathan Huberdeau, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Brad Marchand, Nazem Kadri, Nathan MacKinnon, Mathew Barzal, Brayden Point, Mark Stone, Ryan O’Reilly, Bo Horvat
Defense: Cale Makar, Shea Theodore, Colton Parayko, Morgan Rielly, Thomas Chabot, Alex Pietrangelo, Aaron Ekblad, Devon Toews
Goalies: Jordan Binnington, Marc-André Fleury, Tristan Jarry
Likely the favorite at the 2022 Winter Olympics, this Canadian side would look to repeat as World Cup of Hockey champions. For the first time, we’d get to see generational talents Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby on the ice together in a major tournament. We’d also get to see Marc-André Fleury back with Team Canada at a major tournament after being the third-goalie over a decade ago on the 2010 Olympic team.
Forwards: Gabriel Landeskog (C), Filip Forsberg, Mika Zibanejad, Elias Pettersson, William Nylander, Elias Lindholm, Niklas Backstrom, Jesper Bratt, Lucas Raymond, Andre Burakovsky, Joel Eriksson Ek, Victor Olofsson, Viktor Arvidsson, Adrian Kempe
Defense: Victor Hedman (A), Erik Karlsson (A), John Klingberg, Mattias Ekholm, Rasmus Dahlin, Jonas Brodin, Rasmus Andersson, Hampus Lindholm
Goalies: Robin Lehner, Jacob Markstrom, Linus Ullmark
With the NHL able to hold their own tournament and have their own conditions regarding COVID (yes, this hypothetical tournament exists in this reality where COVID is a thing), there’s a likelihood that Robin Lehner does decide to play for Team Sweden after he made the choice to back-out of the Olympics. They would look to repeat as a medal-winner after taking Bronze at the 2016 tournament.
Forwards: Aleksander Barkov (C), Mikko Rantanen (A), Sebastian Aho (A), Teuvo Teravainen, Patrik Laine, Roope Hintz, Jesse Puljujärvi, Mikael Granlund, Anton Lundell, Kasperi Kapanen, Kaapo Kakko, Joonas Donskoi, Artturi Lehkonen, Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Defense: Esa Lindell, Miro Heiskanen, Rasmus Ristolainen, Joni Hakanpaa, Henri Jokiharju, Olli Maatta, Sami Niku, Niko Mikkola
Goalies: Juuse Saros, Mikko Koskinen, Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen
Juuse Saros has blossomed into an elite goaltender at the NHL level, and without Tuukka Rask available, would be able to take over the reins in net for the Finnish side left by his predecessor in Nashville, Pekka Rinne. This Finnish team would be top-heavy up-front and defensively, but what a heavy top it is.
Forwards: Alexander Ovechkin (C), Evgeni Malkin (A), Artemiy Panarin (A), Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Svechnikov, Kirill Kaprizov, Vladimir Tarsenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Ivan Barbashev, Pavel Buchnevich, Vadim Shipachyov, Denis Gurianov, Artem Anisimov, Vladislav Namestnikov
Defense: Ivan Provorov, Dmitry Orlov, Mikhail Sergachev, Alexander Romanov, Artyom Zub, Vladislav Gavrikov, Dmitri Kulikov, Nikita Nesterov
Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shestyrokin, Sergei Bobrovsky
Russia missed-out on a Bronze Medal in the 2016 tournament after falling to Canada and Sweden in the knockout stage. Would their absolutely loaded forward group be able to make up for their lack of depth defensively? Even with their thin defense, they sure would have their choice of top options for puck-stoppers.
Forwards: Jakub Voracek (C), David Pastrnak (A), David Krejci (A), Tomas Hertl, Ondrej Palat, Martin Necas, Ondrej Kase, Pavel Zacha, Filip Zadina, David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik, Radek Faksa, Filip Chytil, Jakub Vrana
Defense: Filip Hronek, Jan Rutta, Radko Gudas, Jakub Zboril, Radim Simek, Libor Hajek, Michal Kempny, Roman Polak
Goalies: Petr Mrazek, Vitek Vanecek, Daniel Vladar
Speaking of defensive depth issues, the Czech squad has their own problems to deal with. But unlike Russia, their options in net don’t spark the same kind of confidence to overcome those deficiencies. They have firepower upfront, but likely not enough to get out of the group stage, much like in 2016.
Forwards: Anze Kopitar (A), Leon Draisaitl (A), Nikolaj Ehlers, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Lars Eller, Alexandre Texier, Tim Stutzle, Mats Zuccarello, Timo Meier, Kevin Fiala, Nico Hischier, Lukas Reichel, Nino Niederreiter, Pius Suter
Defense: Roman Josi (C), Moritz Seider, Andrej Sekera, Zdeno Chara, Erik Cernak, Martin Fehervary, Christian Jaros, Martin Marincin, Dean Kukan
Goalies: Frederik Andersen, Philipp Grubauer, Elvis Merzlikins
The 2022 edition of Team Europe has major shoes to fill after the 2016 tournament saw them take the Silver Medal back home to their respective countries. A top defensive pairing of Moritz Seider and Roman Josi is a dream, but the rest of their defense is thin. Frederik Andersen in net gives you confidence to overcome the lack of depth, and an attack that includes Leon Draisaitl, Anze Kopitar, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Timo Meier is intriguing. They could be upset-minded again in 2022.
Team North America
Forwards: Brady Tkachuk (C) Jack Hughes (A), Jason Robertson, Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, Josh Norris, Robert Thomas, Dawson Mercer, Nick Suzuki, Matty Beniers, Mason McTavish, Shane Wright, Cole Sillinger, Alexis Lafreniere
Defense: Quinn Hughes (A), Owen Power, Evan Bouchard, Jamie Drysdale, Bowen Byram, K’Andre Miller, Noah Dobson, Ty Smith
Goalies: Carter Hart, Spencer Knight, Jake Oettinger
Finally, the team that made the 2016 World Cup of Hockey special, the 23-and-Under Team North America. This team is not as strapped with talent as it was in 2016, but there’s plenty here to be excited about including the Hughes brothers, future top overall draft pick Shane Wright, 2021 top draft pick Owen Power, and a trio in net of future Vezina candidates. Not to mention the potential for a Tkachuk vs. Tkachuk matchup when the U.S. and North America would face each other, and the reunion of U.S. Development Team standouts Trevor Zegras and Cole Caufield. C’mon, name another time the top overall picks from four consecutive drafts would be on the same team!
Gold – Canada
Silver – USA
Bronze – Finland (over Sweden)
Again, this is my best educated guess at what rosters could look like if the tournament was held in the summer of 2022. Obviously the start date is important for the Team North America age requirements, but if I had my way, the tournament would be held in early-August and lead into the NHL preseason. Players would be afforded the opportunity to get started with their NHL team’s training camp before reporting to the World Cup of Hockey camps. Feel free to tell me where I was wrong and who you think would take home the Gold.