Power Rankings: Players who are victims of Olympics gamesmanship


Olympic hockey is on everyone's mind this week, what with the Russia drama, which means many fans are crying into an entirely new bucket of tears over the fact that the NHL isn't participating in the 2018 Winter Games.
For this week's Power Rankings -- voted on, as always, by ESPN's panel of experts -- we focus on one player from each team who we truly, deeply lament will not be taking part in the men's hockey tournament in South Korea. Many because they haven't gotten the chance before. Others because we've never had the chance to see them with gold around their necks.
How we rank: We use a panel of voters, and these rankings reflect which teams voters think would win head-to-head matchups. Higher-ranked teams are favored over lower-ranked teams. A run of wins doesn't guarantee a jump, and a couple of losses doesn't guarantee a fall.
Record: 19-6-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 1
Steven Stamkos. Sigh. He was a snub in 2010, and then his broken leg kept him out in 2014, with Team Canada winning gold in both. He'll still be young enough in 2022 to participate if the NHL goes to Beijing as expected. But as Stamkos knows, there are no guarantees.
Record: 18-7-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 6
Filip Forsberg. The 23-year-old forward was too young to make the squad for Team Sweden in Sochi in 2014, but his point-per-game season -- as well as the aging out of other Swedish forwards -- would have earned him a top role in the upcoming Olympics, which would have afforded him a platform for a star-making performance.
Record: 17-7-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 2
Patrik Laine. This has not been an outstanding season for the 19-year-old sniper so far, although he appears to be heating up now. But Laine loves the big stage: In 54 international tournament games, he has 49 goals. That includes seven goals in 10 world championship games. He would have rocked Pyeongchang.
Record: 18-10-1
Week 7 Ranking: No. 4
Auston Matthews. So let's get this straight: The Americans finally have a generational talent and a game-dominating scorer who can match any other star in the world, and suddenly the NHL isn't going to the Olympics? We don't traffic much in Canadian conspiracy theories here, but ...
Record: 18-8-2
Week 7 Ranking: No. 3
Vladimir Tarasenko. The Tank rolled through Sochi for five games but only picked up an assist. He has not exactly been a standout internationally, with four goals in 14 games, but he's a better player now than he was four years ago.
Record: 18-8-3
Week 7 Ranking: No. 10
Anze Kopitar. The Kings star only had three points in five games during the Sochi Games, but was the leader of a Slovenia team that shocked Slovakia and was competitive in pool play. Let's hope they wear these sweet jerseys again.
Record: 16-7-4
Week 7 Ranking: No. 8
Nico Hischier. The Swiss are always an interesting team to watch in the Olympics, what with their propensity for upsets. Hischier would have given them an offensive weapon the likes they rarely have. Now, how many games could Reto Berra steal?