The rosters may not have any NHL talent, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any players from Team Canada or Team USA to keep an eye on when the Olympics get underway.
In little more than one month’s time, the Olympic hockey tournament will begin. And, for the first time since the NHL sent players to Nagano in 1998, there will be no big-name North American talent representing their respective countries. No Sidney Crosby, no Patrick Kane. No Connor McDavid, no Jack Eichel. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t certain players who will be worth keeping an eye on.
Be it college players with bright futures ahead of them or veteran journeymen with something to prove, there’s a lot of speed and skill that will still be on display from the two North American nations in PyeongChang, and these are the six players — three from each country — who could turn some heads at the Olympics:
Jordan Greenway, Team USA
Long before the American roster was announced, reports had surfaced that USA Hockey would, at the very least, dip into the college ranks and pull out a few top performers to suit up at the Olympics, and one of the names often associated with that chatter was Greenway. That was with good reason, of course. One year prior, Greenway had been a standout at Boston University, scoring 10 goals and 31 points, and had his coming-out party on a grand international stage, putting up three goals and eight points in seven games as one of the stars of Team USA’s 2017 World Junior Championship-winning squad. But it’s the performance — and Greenway’s presence around the national team — that has mattered most since.
Of note, when Team USA was selecting its roster for the World Championship last season, they called on Greenway and brought the 20-year-old aboard. While he didn’t find the scoresheet, he skated in eight games for the Americans and, though a minor role, got some reps in against some of the top competition in the world. Since, Greenway has returned to the Terriers where he’s put up seven goals and 17 points in 20 games. And as a second-round pick (50th overall) of the Minnesota Wild in 2015, you can rest assured that fans of at least one organization will be watching Greenway’s every move in PyeongChang.
Maxim Noreau, Team Canada
In some ways, Noreau, 30, is a classic case of a player whose size worked against them. His 6-foot, 198-pound frame doesn’t exactly scream top-tier defenseman, but his ability to move the puck, skate it out of danger and produce offense could lead to some attention from across the pond. Consider Noreau’s offensive totals. Over the past two seasons in the Swiss League, Noreau has skated in 60 games with SC Bern, registering 11 goals and 39 points, with another goal and three points in four playoff appearances. Not only that, but at international competition, Noreau has been exceptional. At this season’s Spengler Cup, Noreau, who donned the ‘C’ for Canada, scored two goals and seven points in four games, pushing his career total in the tournament to six goals and 12 points in 15 games.
Noreau has certainly proven he can compete against the level of competition he’ll be facing at the Olympics, and one has to wonder if a performance similar to that which he showed at the Spengler won’t result in a big-league tryout, at the very least, come the off-season. Noreau has shown he can produce on the smaller ice, too. He spent two recent seasons in the AHL, the 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns, and put up 20 goals and 75 points in 103 games.
Troy Terry, Team USA
Like Greenway, Terry has long been mentioned as a potential Olympic athlete if USA Hockey decided to pluck skaters form the NCAA, and he’s likely the name most familiar among the four college-aged players that will be heading to PyeongChang. Reason being is that Terry, at the 2017 World Junior Championship, was nothing short of a hero for Team USA. In the semifinal against Russia, Terry went an incredible 3-for-3 on shootout attempts to send the Americans into the gold medal game, where, against the rival Canadians, he scored the lone shootout goal as the U.S. captured gold.
Lest one thinks Terry’s shootout heroics alone earned him this spot at the Olympics, it’s worth digging into his numbers in the NCAA, which have been fantastic over the past two years. Last season at University of Denver, Terry, 20, blasted home 22 goals and 45 points in 35 games — a total which tied him for 17th in scoring — en route to an NCAA championship. And he has followed it up this season with an eight-goal, 27-point performance across 22 games, which puts him just outside the top 10 in scoring. A fifth-round pick of the Ducks, Terry is only increasing the already considerable hype surrounding him in Anaheim, and if he has more heroics in him in PyeongChang, fans might be clamoring for him to join the NHL club by the time the post-season rolls around.
Mason Raymond, Team Canada
Raymond is a familiar face in NHL circles, and his journeyman career — which saw him play in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and Anaheim — has seen him play 546 games in the big leagues. His most recent stint, however, was a disappointing one. Brought aboard by the Ducks ahead of the 2016-17 season, Raymond played in only four games before being demoted and ultimately asking for his release from Anaheim. A season off, though, has taken Raymond to the Swiss League where the 32-year-old has been excellent for SC Bern.
In 26 games for the Swiss club, Raymond has posted 13 goals and 25 points, all the while being a fixture of the Canadian rosters in pre-Olympic tournaments. Including the Spengler Cup, Raymond scored three goals and four points in nine games and his speed on the big ice made him a threat offensively. His impressive performance overseas made him a mortal lock for this club the moment it was announced NHL players wouldn’t be participating and, depending how he fares as one of the veteran offensive leaders at the Olympics, it wouldn’t be all that surprising were the speedy winger given a tryout opportunity at some point this coming off-season.
Mark Arcobello, Team USA
While not quite a veteran of the NHL in the same way as Raymond, Arcobello has been every bit the journeyman. In fact, he’s had to pack his suitcase and find himself a new home often over the past several seasons. Since 2014-15, Arcobello has found NHL work in Edmonton, Nashville, Pittsburgh, Arizona and Toronto, not to mention spending much of the 2015-16 campaign in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Over the past two seasons, however, the diminutive Arcobello — he stands 5-foot-8, 174 pounds — has been a big-time contributor for SC Bern. Chances are that Arcobello will be asked to do the same for Team USA, too.
Over the past two seasons in Bern, Arcobello is better than a point-per-game player, registering 38 goals and 94 points in 85 games, not to mention another eight goals and 20 points in 18 playoff appearances. Arcobello will be familiar with plying his trade with the national team, too, as he suited up in 10 outings at the 2015 World Championship for Team USA, chipping in one goal and three points in a bottom-six role. In a bigger role, though, Arcobello is likely to see top-six minutes, and if he performs as he has in the Swiss League over the past two seasons, he could draw interest from NHL teams looking for a possession savvy depth player with some offensive acumen.
Linden Vey, Team Canada
A fourth-round pick (96th overall) of the Los Angeles Kings in 2009, Vey seemed for a while as though he was set to make the jump up to the big club at any minute. Before he could really get his start in Los Angeles, though, Vey was shipped off to the Vancouver Canucks where he proceeded to score 14 goals and 39 points across 116 games. Primarily used as a fourth-line winger, though, Vey didn’t get the chance to showcase his offense, something he has most certainly done in his new role with Barys Astana in the KHL. How good has Vey been for Astana? Well, his 17 goals and 52 points in 50 games put him third in league scoring. Remember, this is a league that includes players such as Ilya Kovalchuk.
Chances are Vey is going to play in the top-six for Canada at the Olympics — as luck would have it, he’ll be very familiar with coach Willie Desjardins, who he spent two seasons with in Vancouver — and it wouldn’t be surprising were he one of the offensive leaders. Clearly, his game is well suited to bigger ice and, at 26, he seems to be proving there’s some untapped offensive potential. Is he going to get called back over next season as a top-liner? Doubtful. But as a playmaker on a second power play unit and a creative bottom-six asset, he might be worth a look.