Canada has won the last two gold medals in men's ice hockey at the Winter Olympics when NHL players were allowed to participate.
The last time that happened was 2014. Team Canada defeated the United States 1-0 in a tense semifinal game before taking down Sweden 3-0 to win the gold medal.
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The NHL announced over the weekend that its players will return to Olympic action in 2026 and 2030. The Canadian roster, as always, will be loaded from top to bottom. There are a ton of difficult decisions to make when putting together these lines and pairings.
So with that said, here's our first crack at a roster projection for Canada's 2026 Olympic squad. Check out our first 2026 roster projections for the United States, too.
Crosby will be 39 years old in 2026. Some people might think that's too old. But if we're basing this roster on talent, he has to be there. The odds of Crosby not being a top 10 center in the world in 2026 are fairly slim. He's 36 right now and having an excellent season with 50 points (27 goals, 23 assists) in 46 games.
Putting him with Brad Marchand, who he sometimes skates with in the offseason and knows pretty well, makes a lot of sense. Marchand might be a semi-controversial pick. He'll be 37 in 2026. But the Bruins captain is still the sport's best all-around left wing.
He'd bring plenty of experience, offensive skill, penalty killing and leadership to the Canadian roster. He's been pretty unlucky in regards to the Olympics because the bulk of his prime came after the last time NHL players went to the Olympics. Marchand deserves a shot.
One thing with Canada is it has so many great centers, so some of them will need to play on the wing. All of the forwards in the chart above deserve to be there based on their current standing. The real question is, who plays with who? Putting teammates together is a good idea, so it makes sense to keep Oilers linemates McDavid and Hyman together. Horvat and Barzal know each other well from their time with the Islanders, too.
This isn't a particularly big or physical group of Canadian forwards, but the offensive skill level is just off the charts.
It's time for a new generation of Canadian defensemen to represent the nation at the Olympics. Gold medal-winning veterans such as Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, Shea Weber and Jay Bouwmeester won't be there. Alex Pietrangelo has won two Stanley Cup titles as an elite defenseman for a long time, but in 2026 he probably won't be a serious candidate.
Young stars such as Cale Makar are ready to step up. It makes sense to pair him with his Avalanche teammate, Devon Toews. Josh Morrisey and Noah Dobson would make a strong two-way pairing. The third pairing was a little tough to figure out. The combination of Theodore's experience and Hamilton's offensive skill is an interesting mix. Chabot would provide more offensive skill. Sabres defenseman and former No. 1 overall pick Owen Power probably wouldn't make the cut right now, but in 2026 he could be an easy choice.
This blue line isn't as stacked as some previous Canadian rosters, but there's still plenty of elite skill and some really good players won't even make it.
The weak spot on the Canadian roster is the goaltenders. That said, Adin Hill is very good, and he's currently the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the league leader in both save percentage and GAA. He also has Stanley Cup-winning experience with the Golden Knights, so pressure situations won't be unfamiliar to him.
Stuart Skinner and Tristan Jarry are both capable netminders, and they will benefit from having a star-studded blue line in front of them. Jordan Binnington potentially could be an option for Canada, but his performance has dropped off considerably since he helped lead the Blues to a Stanley Cup title in 2019.