Boston Bruins

Early projections for United States' roster at 2026 Winter Olympics

The 2026 U.S. team will be absolutely loaded.

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Hockey fans got great news over the weekend when the NHL announced at the 2024 All-Star Game in Toronto that its players will participate in the 2026 and 2030 Winter Olympics.

The last time NHL players competed in the Winter Games was 2014. They've missed the last two.

The United States should have one of the top three teams -- at least on paper -- at the upcoming Olympics in Italy. The American squad will be absolutely loaded up front thanks to a great mix of exciting young players and savvy veterans. The blue line is tremendous as well. In net is where the U.S. team really shines. There are so many good goalies to choose from.

The Americans have not won the gold medal in Olympic men's ice hockey since the Miracle on Ice team in 1980. They've come close a few times since, including silver medal finishes in both 2002 and 2010. This time could be different, though.

Here's our first crack at a roster projection for Team USA's 2026 Olympic squad. Be sure to also check out our first 2026 roster projections for Canada.


The Tkachuk brothers skating with Auston Matthews is a scary trio for the rest of the world. Jack Eichel, if healthy, makes the most sense at center, although he could play on the wing if needed.

In addition to having a lot of high-end offensive skill, this forward group also would bring plenty of size and physicality to the ice. This would not be a fun forward group to play against.

The amount of young talent in this group is pretty impressive. Hughes, Beniers and several others still have lots of room for improvement left in their games.


Some of the world's best young defensemen are American. Jaccob Slabin, Charlie McAvoy, Zach Werenski, Quinn Hughes and Adam Fox will all be in the primes of their careers in 2026.

A Slavin-McAvoy duo would be a great shutdown pairing that can be used late in games. Werenski and Fox complement each other's skill sets very well. Fox's offensive wizardry should be on full display in an international setting. And, of course, it makes sense to play the Hughes brothers together. Quinn is a top contender for the Norris Trophy this season, while Luke is enjoying a breakout campaign for the Devils.

The final blue line spots were tough. Brett Pesce made the original list as an extra but was removed in favor of Jake Sanderson. It's a good problem to have, though. It's been a while since the U.S. blue line was this deep and this talented.

The only concern here is a lack of experience. Previous Olympics participants such as Justin Faulk, Cam Fowler and John Carlson are unlikely to be serious candidates in 2026.


Leaving out Thatcher Demko, John Gibson and Spencer Knight was not easy. If there's one area where the Americans have a clear advantage over Canada, it's in net. The U.S. goalie pool is extraordinary.

Hellebuyck is the undisputed starter, though. He's a top-five goalie in the world who won the Vezina Trophy in 2019-20 and was a finalist last season. Oettinger is having a down year by his standards, but if he returns to form, that should be enough to earn a spot.

Swayman might be a controversial pick, especially over Demko, but this is more of a projection based on what the Bruins goalie will be in 2026. Swayman ranked fourth in the league in both save percentage and GAA last season. He ranks third in both categories this season as of Monday morning and is just 25 years old.

Good goaltending has the potential to carry Team USA to a gold medal in two years, and there are plenty of candidates who could fill that role.

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