Thursday Chat: Could any Leafs players go to the Olympics?

When the NHL announced that they would not allow players to go to the Olympics because of the Omicron variant, which is already causing chaos in hockey leagues and tournaments around the world, every country is now struggling to come up with their best possible lists.

But some countries want it easier than others.

The rule, according to a Darren Dreger tweet, it appears that any player on an NHL contract will not be allowed to participate. That means no one likes Cole Perfetti or Peyton Krebs, who are in the AHL but on NHL deals. So not only is it limited to any player currently on an NHL list, it can also include those in the AHL who are on an NHL deal.

If it holds true, it does not just mean that the obvious choices like Auston Matthews are not going to the Olympics. For the Maple Leafs, it could also include guys like Kristians Rubins who is in the AHL but also has NHL contracts.

For North Americans, it leaves the best of a mix of NCAA players – who have not yet signed a professional contract – and old veterans playing in Europe. It can also include the AHL as long as the player is on an AHL contract.

What is not clear is whether a prospect playing in Europe who has signed on to their ELC could attend. For example, Pontus Holmberg is one of Sweden’s best pro players in the SHL. He wanted to be a worthy player for Team Sweden … but he has signed an ELC.

But that means guys like Topi Niemelä, who is one of the best professional defenders in the Finnish Liiga this year, would be completely free to play for Finland – he has not signed on to an ELC yet. It also means that Matthew Knies, who is in the NCAA and one of the best freshmen, may have an outside chance to play for Team USA. And would not it be fun! Being denied WJC because of COVID, only for COVID to create an opportunity for them to play in the Olympics as young prospects.

Russia, however, is going to win.


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The Penguins and Blackhawks made a trade yesterday.

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Some rumors that the Canucks are buying their backup goalkeeper. I know another western conference team that could use him!

When we talk about the Canucks, they will be without one of their best stars because of COVID.

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