The first three members of each participating Olympic hockey nation are being announced this week, with top names like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews, David Pastrnak and Victor Hedman already locked in to compete for their respective countries. Today, Germany, Switzerland, Slovakia, Latvia, Denmark and Russia all revealed the first three names on their roster sheet.
For Germany, it comes as no surprise that Leon Draisaitl leads the way. The Edmonton Oilers superstar is one of the most dangerous playmakers in the world, winning the Hart and Art Ross trophies in 2020. He’ll be joined by Philipp Grubauer, who gives the German squad an elite goaltending option for the tournament.
The third member is an interesting choice though, as Moritz Seider, the Detroit Red Wings prospect who has yet to even make his NHL debut, has already locked in his spot at the Games. The 20-year-old defenseman was the sixth-overall pick in 2019 and has is expected to make an impact for the Red Wings in short order.
Switzerland has a trio of impressive NHL talents, starting with Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi. The 31-year-old defenseman won the Norris Trophy in 2020 and has helped his small country take home two silver medals at the World Championship. In fact, in 2013 when Switzerland came in second, Josi was named tournament MVP. Josi will be joined by Timo Meier of the San Jose Sharks and Nico Hischier of the New Jersey Devils, two established NHL forwards that have represented Switzerland on several occasions in the past.
The Slovaks may now have quite the same star power, but there’s still plenty of NHL experience announced today. Andrej Sekera, Erik Cernak and Jaroslav Halak will all be donning their nation’s colors next year, bringing the building blocks of a strong defensive unit. Cernak, 24, has developed into an extremely valuable and versatile player for the Tampa Bay Lightning, winning two Stanley Cup championships in his first three years of NHL action.
Latvia and Denmark, who don’t usually have much of a chance at a medal actually have some NHL talent of their own to announce today. Rudolfs Balcers, Zemgus Girgensons and Kristians Rubins will take part for Latvia, while Oliver Bjorkstrand, Nikolaj Ehlers and Alexander True make up a great start for the Danes.
It’s Russia that will draw the most attention today though, as the three players announced have all been considered among the best in the world at some point. Alex Ovechkin, a player who is chasing down history by attempting to catch and break Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goal record, Nikita Kucherov, the 2019 Hart Trophy winner and Andrei Vasilevskiy, the most recent Conn Smythe recipient, make up a trio that’s hard to match. Russia, who will be competing as the “Russian Olympic Committee” is the reigning Olympic champion after taking home the award (then as the Olympic Athletes from Russia) in 2018 when the NHL did not participate.