What-if: 2018 Olympic NHL rosters – best of the rest
The Bruins are getting a well-deserved bye week. We here at Bruins Daily, however, don’t have that luxury. So, to make the most of the next few days, your’s truly and Anthony Travalgia came up with an idea to project the men’s hockey rosters for this year’s Winter Olympics if they included the talented players from the National Hockey League.
Today, we look at the best of the rest from teams ranked 7-12 internationally. Check back Tuesday where we’ll reveal the rosters for the Czech Republic and Sweden.
The NHL’s decision not to go to Pyeongchang for the 2018 Winter Olympics was not surprising. But that doesn’t stop us from playing armchair GM and imaging how the rosters would’ve shaped out for the two-week international tournament.
Over the next four days, we’ll reveal the top-six international teams competing in the men’s ice hockey portion of the Olympics. The aforementioned reveal Czechs and Swedes take place Tuesday while Anthony will have the Olympic Athletes from Russia and Finland on Wednesday. The grand finale is revealed on Thursday as your’s truly names Team USA and Anthony shares his Team Canada roster.
But we don’t want to leave other countries out in the cold (no pun intended). With that in mind, here’s a look at the best of the rest from the other six teams competing for gold in South Korea.
Zdeno Chara, Tomas Tatar, Richard Panik, Andrej Sekera, Andrej Meszaros (KHL), Jaroslav Halak
Two real missed opportunities for the NHL not going to the Olympics. The first is not showcasing young talent like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews on the international stage. The second is documenting grizzled vets for what could be their final Olympics, as is the case with Chara.
The NHL hasn’t committed one way or another on Bejing in 2022. That, for sure, will be a hot topic of negotiations between the owners and players when the CBA expires. Though he’s not showing any signs of slowing down, Chara is on the back nine of his career. The Bruins captain will be 44 in four years.
It wouldn’t be surprising if the NHL recommits for 2022. The same goes for Chara continuing his career. But it’s certainly not guaranteed, either.
Roman Josi, Nico Hischier, Nino Niederreiter, Kevin Fiala, Luca Sbisa
The talent pool in Switzerland is getting deeper by the season. Josi and Niederreiter continue to make strides in their careers, while Hischier became the first Swiss ever selected No. 1 overall this past June.
This would’ve been a fun team to watch. Oh well.
Leon Draisaitl, Tobias Reider, Tom Kuhnackl, Dennis Seidenberg
By the time he hangs up the skate, Draisaitl will go down as the top German-born player in the NHL. Even though the Oilers are coming back to earth, Draisitl is still producing at nearly a point per game pace after his career year in 2016-17. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid have a good 1-2 tandem locked down in Edmonton for years to come.
Reider and Khunackl would move from bottom-six NHL roles to the top-six on the German team.
Seidenberg, the ex-Bruin, has only skated in 17 games, but still takes a roster spot. The rest of the team would be filled with Germans playing in European leagues.
Mats Zucarello, Patrick Thorensen (KHL)
Zucarello, a crafty playmaker from a non-traditional hockey power, is a fit on any national team. Thorensen never made it in the NHL, but found his niche in the KHL and other European leagues. Those two would form a solid duo for the Norwegians.
A two-time Stanley Cup champ and the only player aside from Patrice Bergeron to win a Selke Trophy in the last four years. Kopitar, by far, is the best Slovenian hockey player to ever lace up the skates in the NHL.
We round out the list with a player who actually made an Olympic squad albeit in a non-tradition route.
With dual-citizenship, Canadian Brock Radunske will represent the South Korean’s in this year’s games. Radunske moved to South Korea in 2008 after signing on with Anyang Haila of the Korean Hockey League.
This isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but Radunske’s story is quite fascinating. Read more about Radunske’s journey by clicking here.