At least four former Vancouver Canucks players are in the running to represent Canada at Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics next month.
Since the NHL and NHLPA have decided against the Winter Games for the second year in a row, Team Canada will again mainly consist of professional players who play in other leagues in Europe and North America. Many of them are former NHL players who continued their careers abroad.
Some young players are also considered.
Canada’s team, which won the bronze medal in 2018, included six former Canucks players, including household names like Mason Raymond and Maxim Lapierre.
This year’s roster is likely to have some notable names as well. According to The athletics Scott Wheeler, Hockey Canada’s long list of players they are considering for the team includes: Jake Virtanen, Michael Del Zotto, Brendan Leipzig, and Adam Cracknell.
Sources: The following players are on Team Canada’s long list to be considered for the Olympics (2/2):
Tyler Wother Spoon
Michael Del Zotto
– Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) January 5, 2022
Virtanen and Leipzig would be controversial choices if selected, to say the least.
Virtanen has not played another NHL game after the Canucks suspended him on May 1 on allegations of sexual assault. A police investigation is still ongoing.
The Canucks bought him in July before the Abbotsford native left for Russia. The 25-year-old has scored 16 points (9-7-16) in 34 KHL games against Spartak Moscow this season.
As Canuck for 31 games in 2017-18 and 2018-19, Leipzig was effectively booted out of the NHL after leaked messages were posted from a group chat in May 2020. The NHL called her “misogynistic and reprehensible” and the Washington Capitals terminated his contract. The 27-year-old now also plays in Russia, where he has 34 points in 44 KHL games with Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Del Zotto played 105 games for the Canucks in 2017-18 and 2018-19 and is now under contract with the Ottawa Senators. He shared this season between the NHL and the AHL.
Cracknell, who played 44 games for the Canucks in 2015/16, spent the last two seasons with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. The Victoria product is currently not under contract with an NHL team.
Other well-known players reportedly on Canada’s radar include former all-star center Eric Staal and three-time Vezina Trophy-nominated goalkeeper Devan Dubnyk. Neither player has qualified for a game with a professional team this season.
Five members of Canada’s World Junior Team are also in the running, notably defenders Owen Power and Kaiden Guhle, and forwards Cole Perfetti, Mason McTavish and Kent Johnson.
Per Wheeler, here is the full list of rumored names on the long list:
- Chris Biggas
- Daniel Carr
- Adam Cracknell
- Jason Demers
- Phillippe Desrosiers
- Devan Dubnyk
- Cody Franson
- Kaiden Guhle
- Josh Ho-Sang
- Kent Johnson
- Peyton Cancer
- Brendan Leipzig
- Devon Levi
- Brad Malone
- Jack McBain
- Mason McTavish
- Jimmy Oligny
- Cal O’Reilly
- Daniel Winnik
- Cole Perfetti
- Owen Power
- Jack Quinn
- Eric Staal
- Chris Terry
- Matt Tomkins
- Jake Virtanen
- Scott Wilson
- Tyler Wother Spoon
- Michael Del Zotto
Given that the NHL has pulled out of the Olympics, there are some doubts about the eligibility of some of the players on Wheeler’s list, according to TSN’s Darren Dreger.
The long list is interesting, but it’s also a little deceiving, as some players, especially young players like Krebs and Quinn, are ineligible to play due to their NHL contract status, according to Hockey Canada. I also asked the NHL about Perfetti and was told he wasn’t eligible either. https://t.co/fEAC3m2MFu
– Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 5, 2022
There has also been speculation that many players from Canada’s roster for December’s Channel One Cup will likely be selected for Beijing as well. That team included a pair of former Canucks, Tyler Graovac and Ryan Spooner, as well as players like Vancouver-born Landon Ferraro, longtime NHL player Eric Fehr and former Canadian World Junior Star goalkeeper Justin Pogge.
The Channel One Cup team also included three players who represented Canada at the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang: defenders Mat Robinson and Chay Genoway, and strikers Eric O’Dell.
Dreger reports that Hockey Canada should have a final roster within the next two weeks. The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are slated to begin on February 4th. The puck falls on February 9th at the men’s hockey tournament, with Canada playing its opening game against Germany on February 10th.
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