The Detroit Red Wings already have one confirmed representative set to attend the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Last month, the German Ice Hockey Federation named Red Wings rookie defenseman Moritz Seider as one of its first three national team members for the 2022 Olympics.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, Seider’s teammates in Beijing will include Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl and Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer — but not Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss.
Earlier this year, Michael Bauer of Eishockey News reported that the German federation will not invite Greiss to play for the national team as a result of multiple controversial political statements made by the 35-year-old goaltender.
Even without Greiss attending, the Red Wings are bound to send multiple players to the 2022 Olympics (assuming there are no diplomatic boycotts and that the NHL doesn’t pull out due to COVID-19).
Here’s a country-by-country look at which Detroit players could swap the winged wheel for their national insignias come February.
Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin is all but a lock to attend the Beijing Games for Team USA. The 25-year-old center ranks sixth among American NHL players with 18 points in 17 games this season.
Especially with Jack Eichel likely to miss the Olympics while recovering from his neck surgery, the States will need all the help they can get down the middle. Expect Larkin to slot in as the No. 2 center on Team USA, perhaps with Matthew Tkachuk and Kyle Connor on his wings.
Don’t bet on Alex Nedeljkovic getting the call to play at the Olympics unless we see multiple American starting goaltenders go down with injuries in the coming weeks and months. Connor Hellebuyck, Jack Campbell, John Gibson, and Thatcher Demko are all likely comfortably ahead of Detroit’s 25-year-old netminder. Maybe in 2026.
At this point, the Swedes would be remiss not to take Red Wings rookie sensation Lucas Raymond with them to Beijing. Only Calgary Flames pivot Elias Lindholm has more points than Raymond’s 20 this season (and they both have eight goals).
Even if he doesn’t crack the first line on Team Sweden, Raymond is almost assured to occupy a spot in the top six. Lindholm, Gabriel Landeskog, and William Nylander will probably form the top unit; Raymond, Filip Forsberg, and Elias Petterson could make up line two.
There’s also Mika Zibanejad, Victor Olofsson, Joel Eriksson Ek, Andre Burakovsky, and others to consider but let’s not beat around the bush. Barring anything ridiculous happening, Raymond is absolutely making Team Sweden.
If you’re a Red Wings fan looking for a team to cheer for at the 2022 Olympics, look no further than the Czechs. As one of just six active Czech defensemen in the National Hockey League, Filip Hronek will likely serve as the team’s No. 1 guy on the blue line at the Beijing Games.
Even with his slow start, Filip Zadina will likely be selected to join the Czechs in Beijing. The 2018 sixth-overall pick currently ranks seventh among Czech NHL forwards with seven points in 21 games.
Then, there’s Jakub Vrana. It’s unclear at this point whether Vrana will be healthy enough to play at the Olympics but he’d be a virtual guarantee to make the team in normal circumstances. The 25-year-old winger tallied 19 goals and 36 points in 50 games split between Washington and Detroit last season.
On Sept. 30, the Red Wings announced Vrana would miss at least four months after undergoing shoulder surgery. The 2022 Olympics men’s ice hockey tournament is scheduled to begin on Feb. 9. That’s just barely more than four months later.
Just 11 Swiss skaters have played NHL games this season. One of them is Red Wings center Pius Suter, who ranks fifth on the national scoring leaderboard with eight points in 21 games.
Suter’s Swiss peers include Roman Josi, Kevin Fiala, Timo Meier, Nino Niederreiter, Nico Hischier, and Sven Baertschi. Their tickets to Beijing have likely already been booked.
Former NHLers Mirco Mueller, Luca Sbisa, Sven Andrighetto, Denis Malgin, and Yannick Weber could also make appearances at the Beijing Games.
Team Russia — er, Team Olympic Athletes from Russia — is loaded with excellent NHL wingers. Alex Ovechkin, Artemi Panarin, Kirill Kaprizov, Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Svechnikov, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Alexander Radulov will all likely feature in a formidable winger group for Team OAR.
Where Russia struggles is at center, particularly with Evgeni Malkin still recovering from offseason knee surgery and Evgeny Kuznetsov’s status for the Beijing Games up in the air.
Malkin will likely be ready for the 2022 Olympics. The Russians will likely bring Vadim Shipachyov over from the Kontinental Hockey League to play as the No. 2 center behind Malkin. Who will occupy the final two center spots?
One strong candidate could be Vladislav Namestnikov, who has primarily played on the wing with Detroit but has experience at center. Namestnikov ranks seventh among Russian NHL skaters this season with 11 points in 21 games.