Olympic Stock Watch: Stamkos up for Canada; Troy Terry in U.S. mix?

2022 Winter Olympics
NBC Sports

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.

[More on Troy Terry’s hot start]

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.)

Troy Terry Olympics 2018
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

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

Speaking of the expected-if-maybe-on-the-bubble (Steven Stamkos) and the unexpected (Andrew Mangiapane), Team Canada also has some rising Olympic hopeful forwards to consider.

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

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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    Mitch Marner extends Maple Leafs-record points streak to 21 games

    Mitch Marner
    USA Today

    TORONTO — Mitch Marner extended his franchise-record points streak to 21 games with a second-period goal and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Los Angeles Kings 5-0 on Thursday night.

    Marner gave Toronto a 4-0 lead with his 11th goal of the season, scoring on a slap shot after a Los Angeles turnover inside its blue line.

    Marner became the 10th player in the past 35 years to string together a streak of 21 or more games. He has 10 goals and 16 assists during the run.

    Auston Matthews, Pierre Engvall, David Kampf and William Nylander also scored for Toronto. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his first shutout with the Maple Leafs and the seventh of his career.

    Toronto has won seven of eight to improve to 17-5-6.

    Los Angeles dropped to 14-11-4 with its seventh loss in 10 games. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang returns to practice 10 days after stroke

    Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang returned to practice with his teammates just 10 days after suffering the second stroke of his career.

    The 35-year-old Letang remains out indefinitely, with the club describing him as “day to day.”

    Letang said he felt “pretty good” after being greeted by stick taps from his teammates when he skated onto the ice at the team’s practice facility. Still, the married father of two called the experience “scary,” particularly for his family.

    “My kids, they don’t care if I’m a hockey player or not,” he said. “They care about having a dad. Same with my wife. She could care less about hockey. She knows there’s so much more. After hockey, there’s a long time and you want to be able to enjoy those moments with your family, with your kids.”

    Letang missed more than two months in 2014 after his first stroke, which was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. The condition also led to the second stroke, which Letang suffered on Nov. 28 after dealing with a series of debilitating headaches.

    This time, the symptoms have resolved themselves much more quickly, according to team physician Dr. Dharmesh Vyas, who described this stroke as “smaller” than the one Letang endured in 2014.

    Letang began skating on his own just two days after the diagnosis and was cleared to return to practice on Thursday though both Letang and Vyas stressed they are in no rush for him to play in games.

    “We don’t think this is accelerated in any way,” Vyas said. “We are taking all the right precautions to make sure that it is safe to go out and play and when that time comes we’ll let him go back to playing his sport.”

    Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said it was a “relief” to see Letang back at work.

    “It’s a great visual that he’s making progress,” Sullivan said. “Our medical team that has monitored him extremely closely feels comfortable with some of the progress that he’s making and the steps he’s taken. Everyone was excited for him to join the group.”

    Letang signed a six-year contract extension over the summer that will carry him into his 40s if he decides to play that long. Vyas said the data around strokes is “evolving” though it is unclear if Letang is now more susceptible to having additional strokes now that he’s had a second one.

    The six-time All-Star is cautious but optimistic.

    “We’ve been through this,” Letang said. “Me and Dharmesh have a clear understanding that we’re going to take all the time we need and make sure the research is possible and it’s no danger for me to keep going.”

    The Penguins are 8-1-1 over their last 10 games and have won three straight heading into a home-and-home series with the Sabres. They’re also eager to have Letang’s familiar No. 58 back in the lineup, but only when he’s ready.

    “He’s been here for a long time and his experience and everything that he brings on and off the ice, the way he competes (is important),” Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “But I think in the (locker) room, (he has) poise and (he’s) somebody who’s been around a long time and whose experience you feel when he’s around.”

    Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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    Russell LaBounty/USA TODAY Sports
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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

    Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

    “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

    Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

    “That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

    Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

    Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

    Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

    “We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

    Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

    Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

    Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

    Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

    Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.


    Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

    NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.


    Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

    Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

    Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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    Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

    PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

    Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

    Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

    Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

    Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

    Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

    The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

    Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.


    Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

    Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.