What Could it Look Like if there was a 2022 World Cup of Hockey?
We discussed earlier this week how the NHL should leave the Olympics to amateurs and non-NHL roster players while reintroducing the World Cup of Hockey biannually in the summer before the NHL season begins. With the complications that the NHL and NHLPA encountered this year with COVID, as well as the issues that the league encountered in 2018 with 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. Furthermore, you ensure that the best Men’s players in the world have the opportunity to compete in the world’s most talented tournament more frequently than every four years.
Keeping the major five nations (the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Finland) and the two “All-Star” teams (Europe and North America) in mind, I attempted to create the eight 25-player rosters for 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, and Clayton Keller for Team USA.
Adam Fox, Charlie McAvoy, John Carlson, Zach Werenski, Seth Jones, Jaccob Slavin, Tory Krug, and Ryan McDonagh play defense.
Connor Hellebuyck, Thatcher Demko, and Jack Campbell are the goalkeepers.
Essentially, the US team that would have competed in the Olympics this year would have had a very good chance of winning their first Olympic Gold Medal since 1980 at the 2022 Beijing Games. If that does not happen, the United States will be a favorite in the tournament and will hope to perform better than they did in 2016, when they failed to advance from 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, and Bo Horvat for Team Canada.
Cale Makar, Shea Theodore, Colton Parayko, Morgan Rielly, Thomas Chabot, Alex Pietrangelo, Aaron Ekblad, and Devon Toews play defense.
Jordan Binnington, Marc-André Fleury, and Tristan Jarry are the goalies.
This Canadian team would like to repeat as World Cup of Hockey champions at the 2022 Winter Olympics. We’d get to see generational talents Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby on the ice together in a major tournament for the first time. Marc-André Fleury would also be back with Team Canada at a major tournament after serving as the third-goalie on the 2010 Olympic team.
Forwards for Team Sweden include 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, and Adrian Kempe.
Victor Hedman (A), Erik Karlsson (A), John Klingberg, Mattias Ekholm, Rasmus Dahlin, Jonas Brodin, Rasmus Andersson, and Hampus Lindholm play defense.
Robin Lehner, Jacob Markstrom, and Linus Ullmark are the goalies.
With the NHL able to hold their own tournament and set their own COVID conditions (yes, this hypothetical tournament exists in this reality where COVID is a thing), there’s a chance that Robin Lehner will decide to play for Team Sweden after opting out of the Olympics. They’d like to win another medal after finishing third in the 2016 tournament.
Forwards for Team Finland include 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, and Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Esa Lindell, Miro Heiskanen, Rasmus Ristolainen, Joni Hakanpaa, Henri Jokiharju, Olli Maatta, Sami Niku, and Niko Mikkola make up the defense.
Juuse Saros, Mikko Koskinen, and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen are the goalies.
Juuse Saros has developed into an elite NHL goaltender, and if Tuukka Rask is unavailable, he would be able to take over the reins in net for the Finnish team left by his predecessor in Nashville, Pekka Rinne. This Finnish team is top-heavy both offensively and defensively, but what a heavy top it is.
Forwards for Team Russia include: 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, and Vladslav Names
Ivan Provorov, Dmitry Orlov, Mikhail Sergachev, Alexander Romanov, Artyom Zub, Vladislav Gavrikov, Dmitri Kulikov, and Nikita Nesterov are the defenders.
Andrei Vasilevskiy, Igor Shestyrokin, and Sergei Bobrovsky are the goalies.
Russia was eliminated in the knockout stage of the 2016 tournament, losing to Canada and Sweden. Will their extremely talented forward group be able to compensate for their lack of defensive depth? Even with their thin defense, they would have plenty of top-tier options for goaltenders.
Forwards for Team Czechia: 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, and Jakub Vrana.
Filip Hronek, Jan Rutta, Radko Gudas, Jakub Zboril, Radim Simek, Libor Hajek, Michal Kempny, and Roman Polak play defense.
Petr Mrazek, Vitek Vanecek, and Daniel Vladar are the goaltenders.
When it comes to defensive depth, the Czech team has its own issues to deal with. However, unlike Russia, their net options do not inspire the same level of confidence in order to overcome those deficiencies. They have offensive firepower, but not nearly enough to advance past the group stage, as they did in 2016.
Forwards for Team Europe include 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, and Pius Suter.
Defense: Moritz Seider, Andrej Sekera, Zdeno Chara, Erik Cernak, Martin Fehervary, Christian Jaros, Martin Marincin, Dean Kukan, Roman Josi (C).
Frederik Andersen, Philipp Grubauer, and Elvis Merzlikins are the goalies.
The 2022 edition of Team Europe has big shoes to fill after taking the Silver Medal back home to their respective countries in 2016. Moritz Seider and Roman Josi are a dream defensive pairing, but the rest of their defense is thin. The presence of Frederik Andersen in net gives you confidence that you can overcome the lack of depth, and the attack of Leon Draisaitl, Anze Kopitar, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Timo Meier is intriguing. They might be upset again in 2022.
Forwards for Team North America: 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, and Alexis Lafreniere.
Quinn Hughes (A), Owen Power, Evan Bouchard, Jamie Drysdale, Bowen Byram, K’Andre Miller, Noah Dobson, and Ty Smith play defense.
Carter Hart, Spencer Knight, and Jake Oettinger are the goalkeepers.
Finally, the 23-and-Under Team North America, who made the 2016 World Cup of Hockey memorable. This team isn’t as loaded with talent as it was in 2016, but there’s plenty to be excited about, including the Hughes brothers, future first-round pick Shane Wright, 2021 first-round pick Owen Power, and a trio of future Vezina candidates in net. Not to mention the possibility of a Tkachuk vs. Tkachuk matchup between the United States and North America, as well as the reunion of US Development Team standouts Trevor Zegras and Cole Caufield. Name another time when the top overall picks in four consecutive drafts were on the same team!
Gold medal forecast: Canada
Silver – United States
Finland takes bronze (over Sweden)
Again, this is my best educated guess at how the rosters might look if the tournament were held in the summer of 2022. The start date is obviously important for Team North America age requirements, but if I had my way, the tournament would take place in early August, leading into the NHL preseason. Players would be able to participate in their NHL team’s training camp before reporting to the World Cup of Hockey camps. Please let me know where I went wrong and who you think should win the Gold.