In 2014, the Capitals sent five players – Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, John Carlson, Martin Erat and Marcus Johansson – to the Winter Olympics in Sochi.
Washington will be well represented again at the Games in February, albeit with a handful of new names alongside Ovechkin, Backstrom and Carlson in Beijing.
Who else could be tapped to represent their country? Let’s break down the possibilities.
First a few notes:
Center Evgeny Kuznetsov (Russia) is not eligible; He was suspended from the IIHF for four years in 2019 after testing positive for cocaine.
As extensive as the potential list of Washington’s Olympic athletes is, it might have been even longer if wingers Jakub Vrana (Czech Republic) and Richard Panik (Slovakia) and defender Jonas Siegenthaler (Switzerland) had not been overboard with a few trades last season would have been thrown.
Now to our projections.
Nicklas Backstrom, C, Sweden
Backstrom has been an integral part of Sweden’s international contributions for more than a decade and is a candidate for captaincy. He will also be very motivated after his last Olympic experience ended in controversy and heartbreak. Just hours before Sweden’s 2014 gold medal game against Canada, Backstrom was banned from playing because he tested positive for elevated levels of pseudoephedrine contained in Zyrtec-D, an allergy medication the longtime Capitals player has been taking for years. Sweden lost the game 3-0. The International Olympic Committee later decided that Backstrom had no intention of improving his performance and he was eventually awarded his silver medal, but that was no consolation for Backstrom. The playmaker center had six points (one goal, five assists) and four assists in five games in Sochi with Sweden in Vancouver.