The NHL currently plans on sending players to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, with an early February break in the schedule. For some Olympic men’s hockey teams, most roster spots are no-brainers. That said, there’s room to move. Players can work their way off or onto Olympic rosters. In some cases, a fringe player could end up being key.
PHT’s Olympic Stock Watch monitors ups and downs for players for the U.S. men’s ice hockey team, Team Canada, and other countries hunting for medals.
Click here for the first Olympic Stock Watch from early November. Also, please note that stats were noted before Monday’s games.
Olympic Stock: Up
• American forwards Troy Terry and Kyle Connor
You know what I always say*, it’s key to load up your team with people who have two first names. Of all the forwards in the running to make the U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team, few have risen quite like Kyle Connor and Troy Terry.
With Kyle Connor, this isn’t totally out of the (red, white, and?) blue. When PHT picked Olympic rosters, Connor was a frequent choice for the U.S. team, though not by all. Meanwhile, Troy Terry likely ranked as a “hipster” or Ducks homer choice, at best.
It’s interesting to consider how Terry and Connor are similar (two first names, possibilities as U.S. Olympic forwards) and how they’re different. One could imagine an analytics-inclined person making a Terry Olympic argument coming into this season, when Terry quietly distinguished himself as a sneaky-strong two-way player. On the other hand, Connor’s long been someone who looked a bit shabby by “fancy stats,” but loaded up on goals.
Now both Terry and Connor’s Olympic arguments can at least begin with stats as simple as goals and assists.
On the strength of an impressive 16-game point streak, Terry now has 13 goals and 23 points in just 21 games. (Those already represent career-highs; Terry set previous career-highs last season with seven goals and 20 points [48 GP]. Again, you had to look deeper to realize his potential — before this season.)
Connor’s hot start was easier to see coming (14G, 24 points in 21 GP), yet it’s still the hottest he’s been. Interestingly, Terry competed for the U.S. team in the 2018 Winter Olympics, so he has a chance to be a rare player who may appear consecutively.
“I think I’ve put myself in a position where I could see it happening, and if it does, it would be just a huge honor,” Terry told NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika earlier this month.
Don’t count out Chris Kreider (15G, 3A for 18 points in 20 GP), either.
* – I never say this.
• Stamkos, Mangiapane, other rising forwards for Team Canada
Really, it’s not an NHL-eligible Olympic season without at least a little bit of intrigue for Stamkos. In the past, injuries presented a hurdle for Stamkos’ Olympic dreams. This time, he looked borderline thanks to another cruel factor: Father Time.
Yet, through 20 games, Stamkos has been fantastic. With 24 points, he’s tied with Connor and Brad Marchand for eighth in the NHL. Add in Jon Cooper coaching Team Canada (and teammate Brayden Point‘s Olympic availability not totally certain), and Stamkos’ Olympic hopes look strong.
If you jumped in a time machine and told 16-year-old Andrew Mangiapane that he’d have a chance to represent Team Canada at the Olympics, he probably would have “laughed at” you. That’s what he told The Athletic’s Hailey Salvian (sub. required).
[Over/under: how many goals will Mangiapane, Kreider, others score?]
Mangiapane’s start to the season parallels that of Chris Kreider. As two sneaky-good players, they often seem like they could break through if they simply got a lot of bounces. Now, both are.
Mangiapane’s tied with Kreider for third in goals with 15. Similarly, they both don’t have many assists (Mangiapane: two; Kreider: three), and both figure to cool down (Mangiapane: 27.3 shooting percentage; Kreider: 25%). Yet, both forwards proved they were useful even when they weren’t scoring up a storm.
Sure, the odds are still stacked against Mangiapane making Team Canada. He’d probably agree that it’s a heck of an accomplishment that this gets a mention — and shouldn’t be laughed off.
• Tristan Jarry and the continuing Canadian Olympic goalie mystery
If you expected Tristan Jarry to receive mentions for Team Canada’s goalie, and you’re not a friend or family member, you’re … probably lying. C’mon.
Sure, people were a little harsh after Jarry suffered through a miserable finish to last season, including a brutal playoff OT goal vs. the Islanders. Even so, there’s a rebound, and then there’s Jarry earning Vezina buzz.
Currently on a five-game winning streak, Jarry’s record is at 10-4-3. He’s generated a fabulous .936 save percentage, and by Hockey Reference’s version of GSAA, he’s saved 11.97 goals above average. (Second only to Jack Campbell’s 16.88.)
After this hot start, Tristan Jarry’s generated at least some buzz as a goalie option for Team Canada. No doubt, some of that’s a matter of “process of elimination.”
- It’s not yet clear if Carey Price will be an option for Team Canada.
- No, Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been as bad lately, but it’s still been a tough season.
- Carter Hart‘s .920 save percentage is comforting. On the other hand, the Flyers are in a bit of a funk, and that might mute optimism about Hart’s Olympic utility.
- Few, if any, possible Canadian Olympic goalie options have been lights-out. While someone like Cam Talbot might be an OK “bus driver,” he’s not necessarily looking like an inspired choice (yet).
Even if Jarry stays hot, Team Canada might not look at him as a potential No. 1 Olympic goalie. But as one of three options? Might as well have a mix of established names and hot hands. Lately, Jarry qualifies as the latter.
Quick hits: some Olympic players whose stock is down
- The worries for Blake Wheeler extend beyond his viability as an option for the U.S. Olympic team. The jumbo playmaker entered Monday without a goal (7A in 16 GP), while struggling as a two-way player as much as ever.
- Remember that talk about Russia brimming with great Olympic goalie options? That remains mostly true, yet Alexandar Georgiev hasn’t been able to work the same miracles behind the ragged Rangers defense as Igor Shesterkin has.
- Jeff Petry‘s been a gem for quite some time. He ranks among the active Canadiens most affected by a dismal start, as Petry’s not enjoying the same offensive luck he did in recent, borderline Norris-worthy seasons.
- From Jack Campbell to Connor Hellebuyck and John Gibson, the U.S. men’s Olympic ice hockey team can rummage through a ton of high-end goalie options. With that in mind, it’s an uphill battle for Thatcher Demko to make it.