What If the NHL was Attending the 2018 Winter Olympics?

Some of my fondest hockey memories are revolved around winter Olympics.  For all my days, I will never forget TJ Oshie taking shootout attempt after shootout attempt, only to beat the Russians in round 8.  With all this being said, it’s still pretty sour to think the NHL will not be participating in the 2018 Olympics, but it’s also exciting to be cheering for another USA underdog team.

But what if the NHL gave the players their blessing?  What if the NHL shipped off their prized possessions and gave them a chance at international glory?  The biggest question would undoubtedly what would the rosters look like?  Have no fear, I have assembled what I believe would be that USA and Canadian rosters, and even who would be the winner between the two (Thanks NHL 18)

There are a few rules to this wicked game I have chosen to play

  1. I can only pick 12 forwards, 6 defensemen, and 1 goalie
  2. They can only play their natural/NHL position (Toews can’t play on the wing)
  3. Current injuries would not matter.  Everyone has a clean bill of health
  4. EA NHL 18 rosters would be used at their most current roster update
  5. They would play a best of 7 series on Olympic size ice.

And let the games begin!

Let’s start with taking a dive into what the rosters would look like.  Team USA has a lot of young, and somewhat unproven talent to choose from, while choosing the Canadian team just seems unfair.

TEAM USA

LW

Johnny Gaudreau

Max Pacioretty

James Van Riemsdyk

Zack Parise

RW

Patrick Kane

Blake Wheeler

Phil Kessel

TJ Oshie

CENTER

Auston Matthews

Ryan Kesler

Jack Eichel

Dylan Larkin

DEFENSE

Ryan Suter     Ryan McDonagh

Dustin Byfuglien     Seth Jones

Kevin Shattenkirk     Shayne Gostisbehere

Goalies

Jonathan Quick

Team CANADA

LW

Taylor Hall

Jamie Benn

Claude Giroux

Brad Marchand

RW

Josh Bailey

Tyler Seguin

Mark Stone

Reilly Smith

CENTER

Sidney Crosby

Connor McDavid

Steven Stamkos

Nathan MacKinnon

DEFENSE

Brent Burns     PK Subban

Drew Doughty     Duncan Keith

Shea Weber     Kris Letang

GOALIE

Carey Price

While developing these rosters, the biggest struggle I encountered was find RW for the Canadians.  No lie, it was a struggle.  If this was in the real Olympics, I would have just made Toews and Tavares play wing, but I had rules to abide by.

Looking at the USA roster, there strength is undoubtedly their defense.  From Suther all the way down to Gostisbehere, I felt that would be their biggest strength.  When it comes to the goaltending, whenever Quick is in he gives you a chance to win.  Their forward group is filled with youth and speed, but their top line of Gaudreau, Matthews, and Kane might be the best in the entire Olympics.

As for the Canadian team, they are as strong as ever.  As I alluded to earlier, their only real weakness is down their right side of their forwards, but the rest of their lineup is filled with future Hall of Famers.  The defense has no glaring holes led by PK and Brent Burns and their depth at Center just isn’t fair.  I had to cringe when I penciled Nathan MacKinnon as a fourth line center.  Carey Price also still has the skill to steal a gold medal for the Canadians

Now we turn to the video game world.  Since I don’t have deep enough pockets to pay these guys to play an exhibition game, we turn to EA Sport’s NHL 18 and the PlayStation 4 to help make this a reality.  We made everything as realistic as possible, maxing all settings, put them on an Olympic sheet of ice, and had them play a best of 7 series.

The results were honestly a little shocking.

Team USA would take the first 2 games off of the strong play of Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews.  Canada would storm back in game 3 with a goal from Sidney Crosby and a shutout from Carey Price.  USA would wrap up the series in quick fashion with a 4-1 series win.  The MVP was no doubt Patrick Kane with 5 goals, with an honorable mention to Jonathan Quick, giving up less than two goals per game.  Crosby led the Canadians with 2 goals and Subban tossed in a team high 3 assists.

You have to love the Winter Olympics.  Whether played with the world’s greatest athletes, simulated on a PlayStation 4,  or played with the best backups, there is a beautiful sense of patriotism revolving the games.  Sure Team USA won’t be led onto the ice by Jonathan Quick or Seth Jones, but we will be behind them non the less with one common goal, trying to be the team who beats the Russians.  Go USA!

  • (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) February 15, 2014
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