Since the NHL announced their return to the Winter Olympic Games in October, fans have been speculating on which players on their favorite teams could represent their country at the international level. For the Vegas Golden Knights, there is a large number of players that could be on their way to Beijing.
However, two names on the current roster have been confirmed to not play in the Olympics, despite being more than capable players.
The newly acquired Jack Eichel is expected to still be recovering from artificial disk replacement surgery by the time of the Olympic Games in February, making him unavailable for Team USA. Also, Robin Lehner will not join Team Sweden as he declined the invitation due to mental health reasons.
However, I have a case for ten players within the Golden Knights organization that I think we could reasonably see at the Olympic Games. These are ordered from least likely to most likely. Let’s get started.
Jakub Demek- Slovakia
You might not even know who Jakub Demek is, as he is a newer member of the Golden Knight’s organization. Demek is an 18-year old fourth-round draft pick of the Golden Knights, and also one of the first-ever players I wrote about with VHN!
Team Slovakia is not projected to be a deep team in terms of forwards with Tomas Tatar and Richard Panik being the only notable current NHL forwards from the country. As a result, we could see a young guy like Demek sneak his way into a roster spot. Demek has already been named to Team Slovakia’s 2022 World Junior Championship Roster.
Alec Martinez- Team USA
Although a bit of a long shot, I think there should at least be some consideration for Alec Martinez to join Team USA. The 34-year old defenseman, who is still out with a facial laceration, is a veteran NHL defenseman and has his name on the Stanley Cup twice.
His defensive-minded style of play could mesh well with Team USA’s projected offensive-defenseman such as Adam Fox and Torey Krug. Martinez has represented Team USA in the past as well, winning bronze at the 2018 World Championship.
With all of the talented defensemen available for Team USA, it is unlikely that Martinez gets a spot. However you never know with Team USA, Paul Martin made the team in 2014, and Jack Johnson was on the 2016 World Cup of Hockey Team.
Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault- Canada
I have grouped these two together as they are in the same boat as Martinez. They are amazing players but are up against some ridiculously talented competition with Team Canada’s projected forward corps. Sidney Crosby, Nathan Mackinnon, Connor McDavid, Brayden Point, and Jonathan Huberdeau are just some examples.
If I had to put money on it, I would take Marchessault’s chances over Smith. He is simply the more flashy of a player, even though Smith is in the midst of a great season. Marchessault has represented Team Canada in the past, winning Silver at the 2019 World Championships. Smith on the other hand has never represented his country outside of juniors.
Even with injuries and players declining invites to the Olympics it is still unlikely that either one of Smith or Marchessault will make it to Beijing despite how much they deserve it. Their linemate on the other hand has a much better shot.
William Karlsson- Sweden
Team Sweden will once again be a darkhorse candidate for the Gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics and William Karlsson will likely be a big part of that. The Swedes have a projected center depth that features the likes of Karlsson, Niklas Backstrom, Elias Lindholm, and Mika Zibanejad. Not bad if you ask me!
Karlsson has never played in the Olympic Games but has tons of international experience with Team Sweden in tournaments such as the World Juniors and World Championships where he is a gold medal winner in each. I would order your William Karlsson Team Sweden jerseys sooner rather than later!
Evgenii Dadonov- Russia
The Russians will be a veteran-heavy team led by Evgeni Malkin and Alex Ovechkin as they both search for their first-ever Olympic Gold Medal. Evgenii Dadonov (though he may not be a Golden Knight by then) will likely add to Russia’s incredible winger depth which will already likely include Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin, and Nikita Kucherov to name a few.
However, Russia is projected to have weak center depth with Malkin, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Ivan Barbashev projected. This could lead to Dadonov losing a spot as the team needs more centers and not wingers. “Dad” has played for Team Russia in both the World Junior Championship and World Championships and has a total of eight medals.
Max Pacioretty- USA
We are now to the players that are all but confirmed to be playing at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Max Pacioretty is off to a fabulous start to his season after coming back from injured reserve. He has six goals in seven games and is one of the most elite snipers in the NHL.
Team USA will no doubt want to bring back Pacioretty as he was also a member of the 2014 Olympic squad and 2016 World Cup of Hockey roster, both of which did not medal.
Shea Theodore, Alex Pietrangelo, and Mark Stone- Canada
You know you have a Stanley Cup Contending team when you have three players as locks to make the hardest roster at the Olympics. Along with Crosby and McDavid, Alex Pietrangelo has already been confirmed. He already has a Gold Medal in three major IIHF competitions being the World Cup, World Championship, and Olympic Games.
Shea Theodore will likely follow and the two could be paired up together as an all-Golden Knights paring. Theodore has emerged as one of the top young defensemen in the NHL with the Golden Knights and an appearance at the Olympics is the logical next step in his development
Mark Stone, who has never played in the Olympics will more than likely get his chance with Team Canada in 2022 as well. Stone played with Golden Knight’s teammates Theodore and Marchessault at the 2019 World Championships. In that tournament, he was on the World Championship All-Star Team, was the tournament MVP, was a top-3 player on Team Canada, and had the most goals in the tournament.
With these nine players projected to play for five different countries, it is likely that we will see a member of the Vegas Golden Knights win Gold at the 2022 Winter Olympics.