The announcement that will see the NHL send their players to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia is finally set to happen some time today (Friday). With that announcement the league can then finally release the NHL schedule for next season which will surely bring some immediate excitement to the fans of the greatest game on earth.
For now, let’s focus on the Olympics for a minute and whether or not the Oilers will have some representatives heading to Russia to play for their home country.
The greatest debate will likely surround Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and whether all three can make Team Canada. Given their age, it wouldn’t come as a surprise that Nugent-Hopkins is left off the roster, but of course his play from October to January or whenever Team Canada announces it’s roster will be the biggest factor.
Hall is likely a lock for the Olympic squad and Eberle has to at least have an outside chance. Again, if both are having career type seasons it’ll be difficult for the brain trust of Team Canada to pass on them.
Justin Schultz could also be involved in the conversation as a potential fit on the blue line, but in reality, he may have to wait until the 2018 Olympics providing the NHL and IOC agree to send their players four years from now.
Then there are the European and Russian players that will have a great chance to play for their home countries. Nail Yakupov and the newly signed Denis Grebeshkov should be suiting up for Team Russia while Ales Hemsky and Ladislav Smid will likely be playing for the Czech Republic.
That makes eight Oilers that all have a legitimate shot at participating in the 2014 Olympics. Of course a lot will be determined by how well those mentioned players are playing and with expectations high in Edmonton, if the key players aren’t producing, not only will their Olympic dreams fade but so too will their hopes of playing in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Even though it’s months away, we want to know how many Oilers you think will be playing in the Olympics next winter. Take part in our daily poll and let’s see what the results are.