Finally, we have the 12 teams that'll take part in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing.
Fortunately for fans and players alike, the NHL announced an agreement to send players to the upcoming Olympic tournament in China. Denmark was one of the three teams to earn a berth in the qualification round, joining Slovakia and Latvia as the final teams to advance.
It's Denmark's first Olympic appearance in the men's hockey team's history, which is surprising given the team doesn't seem to lack talent. But thanks to the likes of Nikolaj Ehlers, Oliver Bjorkstrand and Sebastian Dahm, the Danes get to prove to the world that they belong - and don't be shocked if their tight-nit, smooth playing style ends up surprising teams.
Denmark will play in Group B against Russia. the Czech Republic and Switzerland. That could end up being a blessing because, realistically, the Danes should be able to compete well enough against the Czechs and Swiss, albeit they definitely have the advantage over Denmark on overall talent. Still, this isn't a bad team to mess with if the full NHL contingent goes.
Let's take a look at what Denmark's roster could look like come February.
Each team is permitted a roster of 22 skaters (14 forwards, eight defensemen) and 3 goaltenders.
Nikolaj Ehlers – Lars Eller – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Nicklas Jensen – Peter Regin – Mikkel Bødker
Frederik Storm – Alex True – Joachim Blichfeld
Morten Madsen– Frans Nielsen – Jonas Røndbjerg
Nicolai Meyer, Patrick Russell
For being one of the smaller teams in the tournament, the Danes should be blessed with a mighty fine top line. Ehlers was the top-scoring player at the Olympic qualifiers with nine points in three games and as he continues to prove himself to be one of the better wingers in the NHL, he'll be so important in trying to help Denmark advance to the quarter-finals. The same goes for Bjorkstrand, fresh off of a career-best season in Columbus. He'll be counted on to be even better this year as the Blue Jackets continue its rebuild and his play in the qualifiers should excite Columbus' fanbase. Eller didn't travel to Norway with the Danes, but he's the clear No. 1 center thanks to his NHL resume, reliability as a two-way forward and as a decent all-around passer.
Blichfeld, 23, has shown promise with the San Jose Barracuda of the AHL, but hasn't managed to crack the Sharks full-time just yet. He's definitely not confirmed to make the big club this time around, but he's still one of the best Danish players in the game today. He could lineup with former NHLers Peter Regin and Nicklas Jensen to give the team secondary scoring options, although Jensen had a bit of a rough go for the Danes last week.
Other former NHLers include Bødker, who can be hit or miss internationally, and Nielsen, who has struggled the past few years in the NHL, but had a decent showing in Oslo in qualification play. One name to watch is Storm, who had five points in three games at the qualifiers and seemed to be involved in every game. The 32-year-old speedy winger can play anywhere in the lineup but his best international tournament to date had to be the qualification round. If the team needs extra scoring – and they definitely will – he should be there on the attack.
Philip Larsen - Jesper Jensen Aabo
Markus Lauridsen - Oliver Lauridsen
Oliver Larsen - Nicholas B. Jensen
Matias Lassen - Malte Setkov
This is the only position without a big-name player on Denmark, but it still has some experience as a group. Larsen, a former NHLer with Dallas, Edmonton and Vancouver, has always been an impactful player for the Danes but his Olympic qualification appearance was his first with the team since 2018. Jensen Aabo can always be counted on to play for the Danes and while he's never much of an offensive threat, he's got good size, physicality and can be a shutdown option for the team.
Another familiar face, Oliver Lauridsen, is coming off of a hot Olympic qualification effort. The former Philadelphia Flyers defender brings massive size at 6-foot-6 and 234 pounds, yet doesn't seem to have a mobility problem on the bigger ice despite the size. He'll have a shot to live his Olympic dream with his brother, Markus, should be one of the team's top point-producers from the blueline, especially after racking up seven assists in three Olympic qualifier games.
From an overall standpoint, the Danes will do an OK job at slowing offense down, but it's going to be the team's weakness if anything.
Frederik Andersen, Sebastian Dahm, Mads Sogaard
This is, perhaps, the easiest position to predict for the Danes. Even though Andersen's play has seen a dip in the past few years, he's still the clear No. 1. While still an NHL rookie, Andersen put on a tremendous performance for the Danes in the 2014 qualification tournament but Slovenia ultimately took the win in Vojens.
Dahm has done a lot of the heavy lifting for the Danes in other events, including his tremendous run at the Olympic qualifiers and as the only goalie to play every round-robin game at the World Championship back in the spring. Sogaard, a top goalie prospect with the Senators, is still young and won't get any playing time, but this will be a nice bit of experience for him.