The 2022 Winter Olympics are getting close, and that means it's time to look at the players who could represent the United States in the men's ice hockey tournament.
Team USA has not won the gold medal in this competition since the "Miracle on Ice" team in 1980. NHL players participated in five straight Winter Olympics from 1998 through 2014, and the only medals the United States won over that span were silver in 2002 and 2010. Both of those gold medal game losses came against Canada.
Which players deserve to travel to the next Winter Games? Here's our Team USA men's Olympic hockey roster projection (click here for our Team Canada roster projection).
|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Johnny Gaudreau||Auston Matthews||Patrick Kane|
|Kyle Connor||Dylan Larkin||Max Pacioretty|
|Chris Kreider||J.T. Miller||Jake Guentzel|
|Alex DeBrincat||Jack Hughes||Matthew Tkachuk|
|Extras:||Brady Tkachuk||Brock Boeser|
The United States is a little light on centers, although that could change if Jack Eichel is able to participate. He's currently rehabbing from neck surgery following his trade from the Buffalo Sabres to the Vegas Golden Knights in early November.
"There’s at least a possibility there. The fact that it’s gone quiet is not a reflection of how things are going. In fact, Jack Eichel is right on schedule in terms of his recovery, which leaves the sliver of a possibility that he could be available to Team USA at the Beijing Olympics," Chris Johnston said on TSN's "Insider Trading" earlier this week.
"At this point, I get the sense that no one wants to put pressure on this recovery. It was obviously a significant injury, he’s had the surgery, the trade’s gone through to Vegas and everyone just wants the process to play out. I don’t even think, necessarily that Team USA is banking on him, but it’s notable that with a little over a month before that team is chosen, it hasn’t been ruled out as a possibility for Jack Eichel."
The top line could be absolutely stacked with Auston Matthews at center flanked by Johnny Gaudreau at left wing and Patrick Kane at right wing. Matthews' 17 goals is tied for the third-most in the league.
One player who wasn't on many preseason U.S. roster projections was Rangers forward Chris Kreider, but he absolutely deserves a spot after scoring 17 goals in his first 24 games.
What the United States lacks down the middle, they more than make up for it on the wings, where this roster will be loaded with proven goal scorers.
|Left D||Right D|
|Adam Fox||Charlie McAvoy|
|Zach Werenski||Seth Jones|
|Quinn Hughes||John Carlson|
|Jaccob Slavin||Ryan McDonagh|
These pairings could go in a number of different ways, and some guys might need to play on the opposite side they do in the NHL.
It makes sense to put Werenski and Jones together given their time as teammates on the Columbus Blue Jackets. Fox and McAvoy would be a phenomenal pairing as well given their elite two-way ability. Adding in a few veterans like McDonagh and Carlson would give Team USA some much-needed experience. This is a pretty young group on the blue line.
Overall, this collection of defensemen is full of top-tier offensive talent. The United States' power play should be just fine at the Olympics.
|Backup 1||Jack Campbell|
|Backup 2||John Gibson|
Hellebuyck is one of the league's best goaltenders and won the Vezina Trophy in the 2019-20 season for the Winnipeg Jets.
Jack Campbell might challenge for that starting job, though. He's having a tremendous season for a Leafs team tied atop the Atlantic Division. Campbell leads the league with a .939 save percentage, and his 1.89 GAA ranks second among all goalies.
John Gibson has played pretty well for a Ducks franchise amid a rebuild. He also has plenty of Team USA experience and is no stranger to international competition.
When you look at the United States roster as a whole, goaltender will be one of its strongest positions.