Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from San Jose Hockey Now, Sharks fans!
Hope everyone is enjoying the little break in the schedule as the holidays are upon us.
If you were looking forward to NHL’ers participating in the 2022 Olympics, it’s bad news as the NHL/NHLPA pulled the plug on that last week because of scheduling and quarantine in China concerns.
So let’s look ahead: Which San Jose Sharks could compete for spots on their respective national teams for the 2026 Winter Olympics in the Italian cities of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo?
For Team Sweden, Erik Karlsson would have been a lock for the 2022 Winter Games. Even at age 31, he is producing and playing some of his best hockey in a teal sweater with 19 points in 24 games so far this season. Karlsson has collected a silver medal at the Olympic Games before. At 35 in four years, would he still be a candidate for 2026?
As for other potential Swedish candidates from the San Jose Sharks, rookies Jonathan Dahlen and William Eklund would have been long shots for the 2022 Winter Olympics, but four years from now, there’s a decent chance that both will be a critical part of San Jose’s top-six and Team Sweden’s core.
Timo Meier is clearly one of the best players from Switzerland in the National Hockey League alongside Roman Josi, Kevin Fiala, and Nico Hischier. Meier is on pace for his best year as a Shark to date, averaging over a point per game past the quarter pole of the 2021-22 campaign. The future can only get brighter for Meier from here, and by his age-29 season, the winger could still be at the prime of his career and a definite top line scoring threat for the Swiss team. He will be an RFA at the end of the 2022-23 campaign.
Tomas Hertl has been longing to be an Olympian for the Czech Republic, but circumstances out of his control — injury in 2014, non-NHL participation in 2018 and 2022 — have prevented him from donning his national colors. Amidst a contract year, Hertl’s season has been solid, as he’s leading the San Jose Sharks in goals, along with 22 points in 30 games. He and David Pastrnak would certainly make a dynamic duo at the Winter Olympics in 2026. It’s a matter of finding even more talent around them and Hertl’s age in 2026 (32). Radim Simek also is a potential Czech teammate to Hertl, but his case isn’t as strong.
The greater question, of course, is whether or not the impending UFA is even a Shark by 2026.
Rudolfs Balcers is arguably the best player from Latvia and finds himself in his prime with the San Jose Sharks. Although he’s had a setback with an injury lately, he’s collected 10 points in a primary top-six role. It’s not certain that Latvia would be able to contend for the 2026 Winter Olympics, but if they do qualify, Balcers should be at the forefront of their scoring brigade.
Team Canada is loaded with talent every competition for the Winter Olympics. The San Jose Sharks has a candidate on the bubble looking to qualify in 2026 in Mario Ferraro. With Brent Burns as his mentor for the last couple years, Ferraro is set to become a cornerstone of the San Jose Sharks’ defense for many years to come and would be due for a big contract this off-season. Ferraro doesn’t put up a lot of points, but his shot-blocking and defensive capabilities are on par with some of the best blueliners in the NHL.
Adin Hill’s case is a longer shot than Ferraro’s, but currently, Hill is projected to be the Sharks’ goaltender of the future. If can find his groove and improve himself over the next four years, there’s a chance for Hill to be a candidate.
Joachim Blichfeld is a special case with Denmark as they recently qualified to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics for men’s hockey for the first time. If they are able to repeat four years from now, Denmark would certainly benefit from Blichfeld’s sharpshooting. Even though Blichfeld has relatively little NHL experience, by 2026, he is still likely one of the best choices for the Danes.
A few other prospects could star on the international stage for the San Jose Sharks by 2026: Thomas Bordeleau for the United States, Adam Raska for the Czech Republic, Artemi Kniazev for Russia, and Santeri Hatakka for Finland come to mind.
Scenes from morning skate 📸 pic.twitter.com/X6VBKYP8wD
— San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) December 16, 2021
At San Jose Hockey Now …
In Other Sharks News …
Corey Masisak looks at 16 stats about the San Jose Sharks that explain their season. (The Athletic)
Five keys the San Jose Sharks need to follow in order to stay within the playoff hunt. (The Mercury News)
The NHL extends holiday break by two days, scheduled to play Tuesday. (Fear The Fin)
A San Jose Sharks mailbag from Curtis Pashelka (The Mercury News)
Around the NHL …
The Anaheim Ducks put a little fright in their holiday season’s greetings.
— Anaheim Ducks (@AnaheimDucks) December 21, 2021
A cool drawing as a Christmas gift for a fan of the National Hockey League.
OWHA would be pleased to step up to host the U18 Women’s World Championship to ensure the players are supported.
OWHA would be pleased to step up to host the U18 Women's World Championship to ensure the players are supported. We commit to working with @IIHFHockey @HockeyCanada and Federations on timing and safety. https://t.co/nn9J6EIrHO
— Ontario Womens Hockey (@OWHAhockey) December 25, 2021
Doug Armstrong has no regrets on time as Team Canada GM as NHL pulls out of Beijing Olympics. (The Athletic)
Top storylines that shaped NHL in 2021 (NHL.com)
The Boston Bruins are “sad” and “frustrated” about missing out on the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Many Calgary Flames players unhappy with decision to bail on the Olympics.
The Colorado Avalanche could be in on these five players on the trade bait list.
Ex-Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan signs in Switzerland.
What do the Florida Panthers want for Christmas?
Montreal Canadiens prospect Kaiden Guhle is “Weber-esque.”
The best from the New York Islanders’ Mathew Barzal’s eventful game of hide-and-seek:
The six things on the Pittsburgh Penguins wish list:
With the NHL opting out of the Olympics, some Vancouver Canucks might not get to fulfill their dreams.
Owen Krepps provides a wish list for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Washington Capitals prospect Oskar Magnusson looking to make mark at 2022 World Juniors.
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