5 Kraken that could play at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics
The NHL has announced that it has reached an agreement to allow its players to participate in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. As a result of this news, the Seattle Kraken has several candidates to represent their home country team at the games. Here are the locks, likely participants, and longshots that will appear at next year’s Olympics.
Philipp Grubauer, Germany
The Seattle franchise goaltender has the opportunity to represent his new team on the international stage. The German goalkeeper is the undisputed holder of his home country for the Beijing Games. The Vezina Trophy finalist is expected to join Leon Draisaitl and aspiring stars Moritz Seider and Tim Stutzle on a German list otherwise uninteresting. Having Grubauer between the pipes will keep the team in some games, but you shouldn’t expect much success.
Grubauer has just completed a year of career that saw him receive his first Vezina Trophy nomination. Last season, he placed second among goaltenders in goals against average (GAA), eighth in save percentage (SV%) and tied for first with seven shutouts. He became an unrestricted free agent and surprisingly signed with the new franchise, instantly becoming one of their best and most important players heading into their inaugural season.
Alexandre True, Denmark
While not even necessarily a lock to be part of Seattle’s opening night roster, True should be locked in a place for Denmark. The lack of other talent on the roster ensures him a chance to play meaningful minutes given his background in the NHL. Although it is largely overtaken by some other countries, Denmark is not as deficient as it might seem. True joins fellow NHL talent Nikolaj Ehlers, Lars Eller, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Frans Nielsen up front for a team that will desperately need to score.
The former Seattle Thunderbird was a member of four World Junior Championship (WJC) teams for Denmark and was the 2016-17 team captain. After going undrafted, True appeared in 203 games for the San Jose Barracuda in the American Hockey League (AHL), recording 59 goals and 128 points. He has five assists in 19 career games with the San Jose Sharks. True might not contribute much to the Kraken initially, but he should represent them well in Beijing.
Joonas Donskoi, Finland
Donskoi has a good chance of placing in the bottom six of a very strong Finnish attacking group. He has a lot of experience to play for Finland, having participated in the WJC as a U18 and twice as a U20 player. He also played a lot in La Liiga, Finland’s top professional league, before joining the NHL. In 271 career games with Karpat in six seasons, he has recorded 60 goals and 156 points.
Donskoi will likely be either one of the latest cuts to the Finnish roster or one of the latest added. He won’t produce a huge number of attacks, but he is a productive and hardworking striker who will help his country in the games. In his six seasons in the NHL, Donskoi produced between 30 and 40 points on five occasions, a testament to his consistency and lack of top-notch point production. Although he cannot accumulate points, he can still be of value to his country.
Calle Jarnkrok, Sweden
Jarnkrok will be a crucial part of Seattle’s offense, but may not be as valuable to the Swedish side. They are very deep up front, especially in the center, leaving little room for Jarnkrok to enter the lineup. His versatility might help him make the squad as he can play on the wing as well, but Sweden’s depth might prove too great for Jarnkrok to make it into the Olympics. He played in the WJC for Sweden as a U18 and U20 player, but may not yet be able to add the Olympics to his resume.
If he ends up on the list, Jarnkrok could take one of the wing spots in the bottom six. It won’t produce many points, but its two-way play can provide support for some of the offensive weapons Sweden has at its disposal. Pairing him with a center scorer like Nicklas Backstrom or William Karlsson could help Sweden keep pucks out of their own net as much as they are capable of putting pucks in the other net.
Alexander Wennberg, Sweden
Wennberg, like Jarnkrok, is a victim of the high-end talent present in the Swedish attacking group. He has a chance to make his debut as a Seattle top center but could get lost among the talented centers Sweden have to choose from. His rebound campaign with the Panthers last year may improve his stock slightly, but he may still be on the outside. Wennberg has appeared in three WJC tournaments with Sweden and was twice a points-per-game producer.
Wennberg adds little on the defensive end of the puck and on special teams, which could make Jarnkrok a better option than him. The Swedish attacking group are very good offensively, but could find more value by adding a defensive specialist like Jarnkrok as opposed to another attacking threat. He has had success with Sweden in the past, but the formidable young talent who has appeared in the Swedish pipeline in recent years could lead to his omission this time around.
Kraken fans should be delighted to see Grubauer compete on the international stage. He is expected to be Seattle’s best portrayal at the games, while True looks set to play a role for Denmark as well. Donskoi has a chance of winning a spot for Finland, while Jarnkrok and Wennberg are less likely to come for Sweden. In the middle of their inaugural season, some players’ participation in the Olympics could generate a whole new wave of dedicated Kraken fans.
Covering the New York Islanders and Seattle Kraken for The Hockey Writers. MBA Sports & Entertainment Management candidate at Hofstra University. Formerly Marketing Intern with the American Flag Football League and Operations Intern for the Long Island Nets, affiliated with the Brooklyn Nets G-League.