Possible Toronto Maple Leafs Playing in the 2022 Olympics

Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images)
Beijing 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games (Photo by WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
John Tavares, Team Canada (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs Captain

While John Tavares was once a lock to represent his country, the tide has turned. The 31-year-old is younger than some believe, but his play might not be enough to remain one of the elite Canadian forwards. If he doesn’t make the team, he already owns a successful international career.

He played 32 international games with the men’s teams and 25 games with the Canadian Junior Teams. He earned two gold medals at the World Juniors, one at the Olympics, and won the World Cup of Hockey.

While he had zero points in his four games at the 2014 Olympics, he notched four points in six games at the World Cup and 25 points in 22 games at the World Championship. Not to mention he is still hanging around the one-point-per-game mark in the NHL.

Some projected rosters have Tavares on the outside looking in, but others pencil him in as a fourth-liner or an extra forward. Being a bottom forward sounds like a good spot for Johnny T to impact as a leader and contribute if any injuries creep up.

On most teams, he would be a top-six player. Unfortunately, Team Canada is always filled from top to bottom with top-end talent. That’s not anything against John Tavares. There is an enormous amount of talent coming out of Canada.

Ilya Mikheyev

The farthest shot of them all on the Toronto Maple Leafs to realistically play in the Olympics is Ilya Mikheyev, who represents Russia. He isn’t the most established player, but he is a reliable bottom-six defensive player with offensive upside.

Mikheyev represented Russia in Division I (19 games) and Division II (9 games) tournaments, totaling 12 points. That’s not the most impressive resume internationally, but his game stretches beyond the offense.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs, he is a third-line winger and sees time on the penalty kill unit. He won’t do anything splashy, but he will do the little things right.

Russia is known for being a top-heavy team. With that in mind, Ilya Mikheyev can sneak into the fourth line or as an extra forward. His two-way style of play and a dropoff in talent beyond the third line gives him that chance.

Jake Muzzin

Some consider Jake Muzzin to be the best defenseman on the Toronto Maple Leafs. I would argue otherwise, but it’s encouraging for the Leafs to have two prominent defensemen at their disposal. I never thought I would be able to say that.

He has 11 international games to his name, with ten being in the 2015 gold medal run at the World Championship. He was a reserve player for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey cup winning team, playing in only one game.

In those games, Muzzin was a stable defender while putting up eight points. All were from the World Championship run. His recent international experience and improvement as an overall player should keep him in the discussion for the roster.

I have yet to see a projected lineup with Jake Muzzin penned into the roster, but that could change with an impressive start to the 2021-2022 season. He is a frequent name on the “just missed” section, which should have him in the discussion for an extra defenseman roster spot.