NHL players will be at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and that means your favorite Golden Knights will likely be representing their countries. All is almost right with the world.
The National Hockey league announced Friday morning that it had reached an agreement with the NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation to allow players to participate in the upcoming Winter Games.
The announcement simply confirms that plan, although the league did say, “the agreement allows for the possibility of a later decision to withdraw in the event evolving COVID-19 conditions are deemed by the NHL/NHLPA to render participation by NHL players to be impractical or unsafe.”
With the news now official, here are some Golden Knights players that could be heading to Beijing in February.
Evgeni Dadonov, one of the newest Golden Knights, could potentially claw his way onto the Russian roster. Team Russia is extremely deep on the wings with the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin, Kirill Kaprizov, Andrei Svechnikov, etc. It will take a good start to the season for the 32-year-old Dadonov to make his way onto the roster, but it’s not impossible.
Dadonov has represented Russia a lot throughout his career, most recently in the 2019 World Championship, where he scored seven goals to help Russia win bronze.
Dadonov has played in six World Championship tournaments for Russia, scoring 22 goals in 58 total games. He had an off year in Ottawa last season, but could capitalize on playing with a better Vegas team. If he can return to the scoring pace he had earlier in his career, don’t be surprised to see him donning the Russian jersey.
If Max Pacioretty can return to the 30-goal ability he’s shown six times before, he will be a Team USA lock. That’s a strong statement for a team that contains wingers like Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat and the Tkachuk brothers but, Pacioretty is that good.
Pacioretty played in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, notching one assist in five games as the United States eventually fell in the bronze medal game to Finland. Truly, it would take a really slow start to the season for the 32-year-old to not make the roster. It’s almost inevitable at this point.
Lehner represented Sweden throughout his minor hockey years, playing internationally in U16, U18 and U20 tournaments, but hasn’t donned the blue and yellow since 2010-11.
‘Wild Bill’ should also be a lock for Sweden, even with the country’s impressive depth at the center position. There will be competition for him with Elias Pettersson, Mika Zibanejad, Nicklas Backstrom and Mikael Backlund all vying for spots. That’s a strong group, but Karlsson belongs alongside them. He has been Vegas’ best center over the last four seasons, and is the team’s all-time leading scorer with 96 goals in that time.
The Golden Knights will be 1/3 of Canada’s d-core at the Olympics, hands down. Canada head coach Jon Cooper could even make up his entire top pairing of Knights in Alex Pietragnelo and Shea Theodore. The pairing is coming off their first full season as teammates in Vegas, and are set up for another big season in 2021-22.
Both are almost locks to make the Olympic roster. Even though they don’t play together in Vegas 100 percent of the time, they played 214 minutes of ice time together and scored 11 goals while allowing only 7.
The two horses on the backend won’t be the only Knights donning the red and white in Beijing. Mark Stone will be a staple on the wing. He is among the NHL’s top wingers and finished 11th last season in the scoring race, one point behind Sidney Crosby. Is that good?
Stone can score but is more known for his defensive prowess and his 200-foot game. He will be a lock on the third line in a shutdown role. For any opposing team that can weather the storm of Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon and Crosby, having to face Stone could be back-breaking.
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