Projecting the 2022 U.S. Olympic men’s hockey roster

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We finally have an Olympic agreement! The NHL, IIHF, and IOC worked out a deal that will allow the league to send players to Beijing, the first time they will participate since the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia.

Individual federations have until Oct. 15 to submit their “long lists” before announcing final rosters in early January.

Now that we know players will be back at the Olympics, it’s time to give some early roster projections. We’ll re-visit this exercise in December as we get closer to final roster announcements.

The PHT team have submitted our initial rosters for both the U.S. and Canadian teams. Some very tough decisions were made!

First up, the United States. You can see our picks for Team Canada here.

Sean Leahy, NHL Writer


Kyle Connor – Auston MatthewsPatrick Kane
Matthew Tkachuk  – Jack EichelAlex DeBrincat
Johnny GaudreauJ.T. MillerJake Guentzel
Max PaciorettyJoe PavelskiBrock Boeser
T.J. Oshie, Jack Hughes

Creating a U.S. roster in the past used to be an easy job. But that is no longer a case. While Canada might have tougher decisions, the American program has developed enough stars that some good names will likely be left off the final roster that will head to Beijing in February. The deep talent pool means that my roster sees the likes of Dylan Larkin, Blake Wheeler, Chris Kreider, Brady Tkachuk, and James van Riemsdyk watching from home.

U.S. general manager Stan Bowman will have the first three months of the NHL season to make those tough decisions and find line combinations that could potentially lead to success. For example: Jack Hughes made big strides last season and is likely a lock for future American international teams, but will he be able to do enough through December to earn a spot in the top 12?


Jaccob SlavinCharlie McAvoy
Quinn HughesAdam Fox
Zach WerenskiSeth Jones
John Carlson, Ryan McDonagh

The blue line might be an area where the U.S. edges the Canadians. It’s a solid top-six with a pair of solid veterans who can serve as extra bodies. McAvoy, Fox, Werenski and Hughes are all 24-year-old and younger, setting up for a promising future internationally for the program. USA Hockey likes players who have been part of previous teams, which gives Jones a boost here — plus the fact that his GM is picking the team.


Connor HellebuyckJohn GibsonThatcher Demko

Both Gibson and Hellebuyck are 28 years old, but lurking in the shadows, maybe forcing a battle if NHL players go to the 2026 Olympics in Milan is Spencer Knight. For now, the two vets will fight for the No. 1 job in Beijing.

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James O’Brien, NHL Writer


Jake Guentzel – Auston Matthews – Jack Eichel
Alex DeBrincat – Dylan Larkin – Patrick Kane
Johnny Gaudreau – Joe Pavelski – Max Pacioretty
Matthew Tkachuk – Jack Hughes – Brady Tkachuk
T.J. Oshie, J.T. Miller

One big assumption, and a dangerous one, is that Jack Eichel can at least be close to 100%. This setup would at least move him to the wing, instead of at center, but there’s a huge chance he won’t be available at all.

Beyond that, this is about a mix of fun and symmetry. Specific line designation wasn’t always about who is “the best.” (Jake Guentzel is underrated, but maybe not that underrated.)

Picture a healthy Eichel transporting the puck, then setting up Matthews. Larkin can do the dirty work for the Kane and DeBrincat, who have built-in chemistry. And, of course, the greatest indulgence of all: unleashing the Brothers Tkachuk. Would their skills be too redundant on the same line? Let’s find out, although hopefully that doesn’t translate into an international incident.


Zach Werenski – Charlie McAvoy
Jaccob Slavin – Adam Fox
Quinn Hughes – Jeff Petry
Seth Jones, John Carlson

Holy smokes, it’s pretty mind-blowing just how far this country’s defensemen have come along. Charlie McAvoy and Adam Fox both had legitimate claims to the 2020-21 Norris Trophy, with Fox actually winning it. Petry’s an outstanding find. My guess is politics would boost both Carlson and Jones up the lineup, and that’s fine enough … maybe Jones will look a bit more like a defenseman worth $9.5M by the 2022 Winter Olympics?


Connor Hellebuyck – Thatcher Demko – John Gibson

If it weren’t for Andrei Vasilevskiy, Hellebuyck would be my reflex answer for best goalie in the world. He’s propped up some truly dismal Jets defenses for multiple seasons; honestly, he’s done so to the point that I worry a bit about an eventual breakdown. Demko basically put on a Hellebuyck costume for the 2020-21 season, so he gets the young upstart spot. On the other end, Gibson’s nomination hinges on him performing at his previous elite level before everything unraveled with the Ducks. Things can change rapidly with goalies, but as of this moment, netminding looks like a significant strength for the U.S.

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Adam Gretz, NHL Writer


Alex DeBrincat – Auston Matthews – Patrick Kane
Kyle Connor – Jack Eichel – Brock Boeser
Jake Guentzel – J.T. Miller – Max Pacioretty
Matthew Tkachuk – Jack Hughes – Johnny Gaudreau
Dylan Larkin, Brady Tkachuk

Assuming Jack Eichel is healthy and 100% and able to play, there is at least some really outstanding center depth here. Matthews, Eichel, Miller, Hughes, and all the way down to Larkin if you get there is a good enough group to medal with.

I thought the U.S. options on the right side are a little thin because I was trying to turn the page on the old guard of Phil Kessel, Blake Wheeler, and T.J. Oshie, so I am going to play Pacioretty and Gaudreau on their off sides and see how that goes. Not only because I want them on the team because they are among the 12-best American-born forwards right now, but also because the left side is actually really stacked with talent. Is it on Canada’s level? Maybe not. But there are not many counties in the tournament that can match up that left side.


Adam Fox – Charlie McAvoy
Jaccob Slavin – Jeff Petry
Quinn Hughes – Zach Werenski
Ryan McDonagh, John Carlson

The top-three of Fox, McAvoy and Slavin is sensational. There are two Norris contenders in there with Fox and McAvoy (Fox already won it) and one of the better two-way defenders in the league in Slavin. Petry is no slouch, either to round out the top-four. One of the most underrated players in the league.

I do feel like McDonagh and Carlson will probably play a lot more than I would play them because that is how Team USA tends to work, and Jones will probably make his way onto the roster as well. But this is the group I am going with and I am happy with it.


Connor Hellebuyck – John Gibson – Thatcher Demko

John Gibson will probably be ecstatic to be playing behind a team that can support him, but the story here is Hellebuyck. He can be a game-changer for the United States and give them a chance against any opponent in the tournament. Including Canada. One of the best goalies in the world.

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Michael Finewax, NBC Sports Edge Senior Hockey Writer/Editor


Kyle Connor – Auston Matthews – Patrick Kane
Johnny Gaudreau – Jack Eichel – Alex DeBrincat
Matthew Tkachuk – Jack Hughes – Brady Tkachuk
Jake Guentzel – Dylan Larkin – Blake Wheeler
J.T. Miller, Brock Boeser

You have to love the first line with Matthews centering Connor and Kane. Eichel’s health is still up in the air but if healthy, he absolutely deserves to go. I like the Tkachuk brothers taking care of Hughes, which will allow us to really see how good Hughes is with plenty of room.


Zach Werenski – Seth Jones
Charlie McAvoy – John Carlson
Adam Fox – Jaccob Slavin
Jacob Trouba, Torey Krug

I would keep Jones and Werenski together as they have spent the last few seasons playing together in Columbus. McAvoy and Slavin provide great defensive play for offensive defenseman Carlson and Fox. 


Connor Hellebuyck – John Gibson – Spencer Knight

Hellebuyck is a no-brainer and Gibson is a lot better than his record of late indicates, on a poor Anaheim team. Knight is the future of the USA in goal and should gain valuable experience just observing.

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    NHL top prospect Connor Bedard draws comparisons to Connor McDavid as draft approaches

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    Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

    BUFFALO, N.Y. — The NHL is going to have another Connor to contend with very shortly.

    For everything two-time NHL MVP Connor McDavid has accomplished in Edmonton since being selected No. 1 in the 2015 draft, Connor Bedard is on the same trajectory in being pegged as this year’s top eligible draft prospect, Central Scouting director Dan Marr said Friday.

    “He’s right up there with Connor McDavid, it’s just the next generation,” Marr said in touting Bedard’s quickness, shot and ability to read and adapt. “So Connor McDavid started that trend, and Connor Bedard is going to lead it into the next trend.”

    The annual NHL pre-draft combine in Buffalo, New York, is resembling more of a coronation for the 17-year-old Bedard, who has spent the past two years putting up generational numbers with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League while also shining against his peers on the international stage.

    “I think you can use a lot of adjectives to describe it,” Regina coach John Paddock told The Associated Press recently in comparing Bedard’s production at the same age level to McDavid and Penguins captain Sidney Crosby.

    “That’s quite a high ceiling,” said Paddock, a former NHL coach and player. “But there’s no indication he’s not going to do that based on what he’s done to date.”

    The Chicago Blackhawks own the No. 1 pick, and are highly anticipated to use it on Bedard when the draft opens in Nashville, Tennessee, on June 28.

    Bedard held his latest meeting with the Blackhawks at the combine in a relationship that began at a top-prospects camp in Toronto last summer.

    Bedard’s arrival would coincide with the franchise in transition, with Chicago moving on from its aging core after trading 2007 No. 1 pick, Patrick Kane, and with captain Jonathan Toews’ future uncertain.

    “Yeah, it’d be awesome,” Bedard said of the possibility of being selected by the Blackhawks. “The history of that organization, that city with sports would be unbelievable. We’ll see what happens, but to be selected, that would be a huge honor.”

    Bedard said he’s following McDavid’s advice to stay in the moment and not peak too far ahead. He added, his dream to play in the NHL began no different than those of his colleagues: the moment he picked up a hockey stick growing up in North Vancouver, British Columbia.

    What separates Bedard, however, is his exceptional skating ability and a hard shot, which is even more lethal given his quick release.

    With Bedard the likely top pick, the intrigue at the draft is likely to revolve around who rounds out the remainder of the top five selections.

    University of Michigan’s Adam Fantilli is second among North American skaters on Central Scouting’s final list, followed by top American prospect, William Smith, who played for USA Hockey’s developmental program. The top two European skaters are also considered in the mix with Sweden’s Leo Carlsson and Russia’s Matvei Michkov.

    Anaheim is scheduled to pick second followed by Columbus, San Jose and Montreal.

    Marr gives the edge to Bedard while also being impressed with Fantilli – just the third freshman to win the Hobey Baker Trophy awarded to college hockey’s top players – in a draft class considered very deep with offensive-minded forwards.

    “You’re going to win with both,” Marr said. “And whoever gets these two players they’re going to help define a franchise.”

    What distinguishes Bedard, who doesn’t turn 18 until next month, has been his consistency.

    Last season, his 71 goals in just 57 games were the most in the WHL since Pavel Brendl scored 73 in 1998-99. Bedard’s 143 points were the most in the CHL since three players topped that mark in 1995-96. And it was a season in which he enjoyed 10 games with five or more points, and just five games in which he failed to register a point.

    In 2020-21, Bedard became just the third WHL 16-year-old to reach 100 points, and was the youngest to score 50 goals in finishing with 51.

    He’s also made a splash on the international stage. Bedard led Canada with nine goals and 23 points at the world juniors last winter, and his combined production of 17 goals and 36 points in just 16 games ranks fourth on the career tournament list.

    Bedard has honed his talent by spending countless hours practicing shots in his backyard, which he referred to as his “Happy Place.” He was so dedicated to work on his shot that he preferred practicing than joining his family for a vacation to Disneyland, and eventually vacationed in Hawaii but only after he was allowed to bring his inline skates and sticks to practice.

    Noted for being soft-spoken, Bedard said he’s not yet allowed himself to envision being drafted or making his NHL debut yet.

    “It’s hard kind of think of that. But of course, I’ll work as hard as I can to try to achieve that goal,” he said. “And hopefully I do.”

    Blue Jackets acquire D Damon Severson from Devils after he signs 8-year deal

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    The Columbus Blue Jackets acquired Damon Severson from the New Jersey Devils on Friday after the veteran defenseman and soon-to-be free agent signed an eight-year $50 million contract.

    Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen sent a third-round pick, 80th overall, in this month’s draft to the Devils for Severson, who will be under contract through the 2030-31 NHL season.

    Severson had 58 goals and 205 assists in 647 career appearances with the Devils since making his NHL debut in 2014-15. He scored seven game-winning goals and averaged more than 21 minutes of playing time during his nine seasons. The 28-year-old had seven goals and 26 assists this season, including two game-winning goals, in 81 games.

    “Damon is a versatile defenseman who has great vision, moves the puck extremely well, has good size and can play heavy minutes at both ends of the ice,” Kekalainen said.

    The Canadian was selected in the second round in the 2012 draft. He has collected 30 or more points five times in his career and twice notched 11 or more goals. He played in every game in three straight seasons from 2018-21 and has played 80 or more contests four times in his career.

    With the addition of the third-round pick, New Jersey now has six selections in the draft, including its own picks in rounds two, four, five, six and seven.

    Matthew Tkachuk returns from big hit in Stanley Cup Final, adds more playoff heroics

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    Matthew Tkachuk was down, out briefly and then back with plenty of time to make a difference.

    The Florida Panthers star left early in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after a big hit from Vegas Golden Knights forward Keegan Kolesar, and he missed most of the first period and didn’t return immediately following intermission while being evaluated for a concussion. After looking as if he might be lost for the night, Tkachuk returned in the second and then came through with more of his now trademark playoff heroics.

    Tkachuk scored the tying goal with 2:13 left in regulation, forcing overtime and giving the Panthers new life. He then provided the screen on Carter Verhaeghe‘s OT goal for a 3-2 victory that cut Florida’s series deficit to 2-1.

    The 25-year-old said he knew he was coming back when he left the game, pulled by concussion spotters. That absence felt like a long time ago in the aftermath of another big win he was largely responsible for.

    “I felt great – I feel great,” Tkachuk said. “I’m ready to go. Everybody’s excited that we’re in this position right now.”

    Florida is in this position rather than facing elimination in Game 4 on Saturday thanks in large part to Tkachuk, who also set up Brandon Montour‘s goal that opened the scoring less than five minutes in.

    Not long after, Tkachuk stumbled getting up after the hit from Kolesar and skated to the bench. He took a shift on Florida’s power play before going down the tunnel at the demand of concussion spotters mandated by NHL protocol.

    At that point, there was zero clarity, even on the Florida bench.

    “You’re not informed at all: It’s a complete shutdown,” coach Paul Maurice said. “You are completely in the dark on those. You don’t know when the player’s coming back. There’s not an update.”

    Players insist they were not worried. Montour called it a no-brainer.

    “He’s going to come back no matter what,” captain Aleksander Barkov said. “He’s really tough guy, and he’s going to battle through everything.”

    Tkachuk rejoined his teammates on the bench a few minutes into the second. When he stepped back onto the ice for his first shift since leaving, fans cheered and chanted, “Chucky! Chucky!”

    The crowd was even louder and threw rats when Tkachuk scored his biggest goal of many during this run to tie it. He didn’t get an assist on Verhaeghe’s goal but made it happen with a tape-to-tape pass in the neutral zone and was in front of Adin Hill when it happened.

    Asked if he was happy Tkachuk returned, Maurice joked that it was after midnight.

    “It was fine,” he quipped.

    Panthers rally, top Golden Knights 3-2 in OT of Game 3 of Stanley Cup final

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    SUNRISE, Fla. — Carter Verhaeghe scored 4:27 into overtime and the Florida Panthers pulled off some more postseason dramatics to beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Thursday night.

    Matthew Tkachuk tied it with 2:13 left in the third period for the Panthers, who got the franchise’s first title-series game win in seven tries. Florida had to fend off a power play to start overtime, and Verhaeghe got the winner from the slot to get the Panthers within 2-1 in the series.

    Game 4 is Saturday night.

    Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 25 shots for Florida. Adin Hill made 20 saves for Vegas, but got beat on the only shot that came his way in overtime.

    Brandon Montour also scored for Florida, which pulled Bobrovsky down 2-1 late in the third for the extra attacker and Tkachuk — who left for parts of the first and second periods after taking a big hit — made that move pay off when he tied the game.

    His goal breathed life into a very nervous building. But the Panthers were furious — and replays showed they had a case — when Gustav Forsling was sent to the box with 11.2 seconds remaining for tripping. Florida survived that scare, and a few minutes later, had life in the series again.

    The odds are still long, but the Panthers at least have a bit more statistical hope now. Of the previous 55 teams to trail 2-1 at this point of the Stanley Cup Final, 11 have actually rallied to hoist the trophy.

    It’s improbable, sure. So are the Panthers, who were the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference, were down 3-1 to Boston in Round 1, were 133 seconds away from trailing this series 3-0 — and now have tons of reasons for optimism.

    Jonathan Marchessault and Mark Stone each had power-play goals for Vegas.

    Marchessault’s goal was his 13th in his last 13 playoff games, his fourth of this series and his third with the man advantage.

    As if all that wasn’t enough, there was a little history in there as well. Vegas joined the 1980 New York Islanders as the only team with at least two power-play goals in three consecutive games in the Cup final. And Marchessault became the third player in the last 35 years to score in each of the first three games of a title series — joining Steve Yzerman in 1997 with Detroit and Jake Guentzel with Pittsburgh in 2017.

    But it wasn’t enough to give Vegas a 3-0 lead in the series.


    Before Thursday, Florida’s last home game in the title series was June 10, 1996, when Uwe Krupp scored in the third overtime for a 1-0 win as Colorado finished off a four-game sweep of the Panthers for the Cup. … Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was in the crowd, as was NBA great Charles Barkley, and former Dolphins star Dan Marino was the celebrity drummer to welcome the Panthers onto the ice.