While the Winter Olympics seem like a long way ahead and NHL participation is yet to be set in stone, one cannot escape the fact that the next two season will really be a big audition for that coveted international spot.
There are some names that will always be in the mix such as Sidney Crosby, Victor Hedman and Alexander Ovechkin. On the Ottawa Senators, we could see Thomas Chabot, Tim Stuetzle and Brady Tkachuk among the names that at least get a look at once their respective countries start the the camp invites. Every now and then, a surprise player or two make the rosters of their countries’ most elite team selection and with the Sens having a plethora of young talent, can we see some other players making some noise for Olympics consideration? Let’s start with the three largest competing countries.
Let’s start with Team Canada:
Drake Batherson: while everyone is excited to see a full time NHLer Batherson, how much attention will he draw from the rest of the hockey world? At 22 years old, he is a prime candidate to showcase some speed and skill that can give him a chance for at least a camp invitation. While the usual Canadian superstars such as Crosby, Toews and Stamkos are well at the end of their prime curves, Team Canada may be looking to get a breath of younger talent on the team. While the competition will surely be tough, I see Batherson having at least a chance for consideration.
Matt Murray: filling the goaltender spot is crucial for any international team and is probably one of the most controversial spots to fill. Carey Price will probably be a top choice and the likes of Jordan Binnington and Braden Holtby will also be in the mix. However, Murray is a 2-time Stanley Cup champion and would be younger than all the goalies mentioned above by 2022, so the next season with the Ottawa Senators may be a huge deciding factor for his international career. There will always be a new goalie who plays incredible just at the right time but I can definitely see Matt Murray having a chance to compete for the elusive Team Canada goalie.
Team United States of America:
Colin White: I still believe White has a lot to offer both on the Sens roster and possibly on an international level. Team USA has always prioritized speed, youth and skill and if Colin White can find the form he once had with Mark Stone, he can catch some eyes. Colin White has struggled with consistency but with a more “veteran” role on team in the next season, he could develop into a more consistent and player that can surprise many people. While it is a long shot for White, it is not completely out of the question.
Josh Norris: another long shot considering we haven’t even had a clear look at Norris on an NHL level but if there was ever a rookie who can come in and completely steal the spotlight on the American team, I have a very good feeling about Josh Norris. I don’t think Brady Tkachuk is a lock but along with his brother Matthew, Team USA may really want the duo to be part of the core. This would bode well for Norris as well as he has very well known chemistry with Tkachuk including a World Championship appearance together winning gold in the 2017 U18 championships a silver medal in the 2018 world junior championships.
Egor Sokolov: a player who continues to be full of surprises may have it in him. Again, another long shot with the talent pool in Russia but Sokolov is already turning heads without even playing in the NHL. His North American experience may be a good asset to the Russian team if they’re looking for some younger talent that can still keep up with different styles of play.
Vitaly Abramov: you cannot really mention the Russians on the Ottawa Senators without bringing up Abramov. While he has yet to have the breakthrough season we had all hoped to see when he was acquired, there is still a lot of potential for the 22 year old winger. If there was ever an opportunity for him to impress, it will be the next two seasons as the Sens will continue to rely on the young skill to complete this rebuild.
While the majority of the names mentioned face enormous competition, we cannot deny that the idea of having several players in the Olympics is exciting to watch as well as a boost of confidence for the rebuild. The next season holds so many unknowns for this young team but maybe with the right opportunity and some coaching magic from DJ Smith, the kids can shine bright enough for some Olympic dreams.
Who Do You Think Is Most Likely to Get An Unexpected Olympics Call?
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