In the first Winter Olympics without NHL players since 1994, anything could happen.
With the first men's game set for puck drop Wednesday morning, theScore takes a stab at predicting what will happen with each of the top seven countries competing.
Olympic Athletes from Russia: Kovalchuk averages 1.5 goals per game
Having scored at least 30 goals in 10 NHL seasons before his early exit to the KHL, Ilya Kovalchuk will establish himself early in the tournament as one of the best goal scorers at the Olympic games.
Though he'll have a target on his back, Kovalchuk will use his all-world shot to snipe goals on a regular basis against lesser skilled units, averaging at least one and a half per contest by the end of the tournament.
Sweden: 17-year-old Dahlin wins best D-man
Dahlin is hands-down the biggest name in the men's hockey tournament to have never appeared in the NHL, though that is set to change rather soon.
The projected top pick of the 2018 NHL entry draft will be one of the most gifted players in the tournament at just 17 years old. After fellow Swede Erik Karlsson took home the best defenseman award at Sochi 2014, Dahlin will continue the tradition by shutting down opposing offenses and winning the 2018 title for himself.
Canada: Scrivens steals crucial win with 50-save performance
The 31-year-old former NHL journeyman will be one of the familiar-but-not-famous personalities to lead Canada's quest to defend gold.
While the boys in red and white may take some time for everyone to get on the same page, they should get through their opening-round opponents (Switzerland, Czech Republic, and South Korea) to move on to the quarterfinals. However, Scrivens will need to stand on his head to keep them alive for the semifinals, stopping over 50 pucks en route to a big win.
Finland: Team will allow no more than 6 goals throughout entire tournament
One thing you can always count on with the Finnish team is strong goaltending. Though the Finns won't have the likes of Pekka Rinne or Tuuka Rask, their group of puck stoppers in PyeongChang will be a stout bunch helped out by solid team defense.
Wiithout much offensive fire power, Finland will play a tight, low-scoring style in each contest, resulting a tournament-best defense as it allows less than six goals throughout the entire event.
Czech Rep.: Francouz named best goaltender
Pavel Francouz has become a star in the KHL over the last two seasons, posting GAA's of 1.43 and 1.83 as one of the league's best goaltenders.
The Czech Republic team will be short on offense, needing to rely on the man between the pipes to compete in any contests. Francouz will use the Olympic stage to prove he's more than just a KHL star, leading the tournament in total saves by a wide margin and picking up the best goaltender award.
United States: NCAA talent leads team scoring
Former NHLers Brian Gionta and James Wisniewski will likely serve as the veteran leaders in the locker room for team USA, but it will be those still hoping to earn their shot at the big leagues who take command on the ice.
Too naive to be startled by the big stage, the NCAA talent on the American squad - Troy Terry (University of Denver), Ryan Donato (Harvard), Jordan Greenway (Boston University), and Will Borgen (St. Cloud State University) - will steal the spotlight from their more-experienced teammates by lighting up the opposition.
Switzerland: Every team goal scored by Haas, Suter, or Corvi
With the exception of a few former NHL journeymen, the Swiss team isn't anywhere close to a star-studded group, but it does have a trio of forwards getting hot at the right time in the Swiss-A league.
Gaetan Haas, Pius Suter, and Enzo Corvi have competed against one another the past three seasons as some of the premier local talents in the Swiss-A league. While the rest of the team scrambles to keep the opposition from taking advantage of their goaltending issues, these three snipers will be the only Swiss players to light the lamp in PyeongChang.
(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)
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