2022 Winter Olympics: Projecting Canada's men's hockey roster originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The favorite to win the gold medal in men's ice hockey at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing is Canada, which shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
NHL players participated in five consecutive Olympics from 1998 through 2014, and Canada won the gold medal in 2002, 2010 and 2014.
The Canadians have the best and deepest group of forwards, as well as an ultra-talented blue line. The one position where they don't have a ton of elite talent is goalie, but the options they do have are still pretty good. There will be many excellent players who don't make the cut.
Which players deserve to travel to the next Winter Games? Here's our Team Canada men's Olympic hockey roster projection.
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|Left Wing||Center||Right Wing|
|Brad Marchand||Sidney Crosby||Patrice Bergeron|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Connor McDavid||Mitch Marner|
|Ryan O'Reilly||Nathan MacKinnon||Mark Stone|
|Mathew Barzal||Brayden Point||Steven Stamkos|
|Extras:||John Tavares||Mark Scheifele|
The top line is one that dominated at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Bruins teammates Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand have shown great chemistry with Sidney Crosby. This line is perfect for any situation in any zone at any point in the game. Three elite players with all the offensive and defensive skill a coach could want.
Canada is so loaded with talent that some centers will need to play on the wing, including Steven Stamkos and Ryan O'Reilly, among others. Connor McDavid and Nathan MacKinnon arguably are the top playmakers in the sport, so they need to be down the middle.
These players won't have a ton of time to develop chemistry before Olympic games commence, so putting NHL teammates together -- like Point and Stamkos -- makes a lot of sense.
|Left D||Right D|
|Shea Theodore||Alex Pietrangelo|
|Adam Pelech||Cale Makar|
|Aaron Ekblad||Dougie Hamilton|
|Thomas Chabot||Drew Doughty|
Again, it makes sense to put teammates together, so Theodore and Pietrangelo skating on one pairing is an easy one. Pelech and Makar compliment each other's skill sets pretty well. Makar is an offensive machine, while Pelech is fantastic defensively.
Ekblad is having a tremendous season for the first-place Panthers. Hamilton is one of the best offensive defensemen in the league. Doughty has been a polarizing pick, with some people thinking it's time for fresh blood on the blue line, while others saying he's played well enough to earn a spot on his third Olympic roster. I'll take Doughty's experience over Morgan Rielly for the final blue line spot.
|Backup 1||Marc-Andre Fleury|
|Backup 2||Jordan Binnington|
If Carey Price is able to play, he's a lock to make the team. His NHL and international record speaks for itself. He was nearly unbeatable (.972 save percentage) for Canada when it won gold at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Price has not yet played for the Montreal Canadiens this season, though.
Here's what Canada's Olympic general manager Doug Armstrong said about Price's status earlier this week:
Marc-Andre Fleury would be a reliable starter if Price is unable to play. Jordan Binnington and Carter Hart are two of the next-best options for Canada. Binnington gets the nod for us here given his playoff experience.