For previous medal winners, history, Olympic rules, and more, see the Olympic Hockey Guide.
Assuming NHL players are there, and assuming a 23-man roster, here's a look at who might carry the Team Canada burden at the 2014 Olympic hockey tournament in Sochi, Russia.
* indicates a player returning from Team Canada 2010.
*Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
*Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
*Cory Perry, Anaheim Ducks
*Rick Nash, New York Rangers
*Eric Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
*Mike Richards, Los Angeles Kings
Jordan Staal, Carolina Hurricanes
Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
John Tavares, New York Islanders
*Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Hard to imagine Crosby, Toews, Stamkos, Giroux, or Perry missing the cut, regardless of how things go between now and the new year.
Nash, Richards, and Eric Staal were solid for Canada's 2010 gold medal team, and can play different roles depending on the situation.
From there it gets interesting. As many as 30 guys could be in the running for 13 forward spots.
Getzlaf is on the bubble. He isn't producing like he used to.
If I'm building a franchise, I'll take young Oilers like Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle, and Boston's Tyler Seguin. But Benn or Couture are a little older, with more on-the-job training. The 2014 timing might work out for them.
Others looking to move up in the coming months: Martin St. Louis (Lightning), and Milan Lucic (Bruins), Joe Thornton (Sharks), Patrick Marleau (Sharks), James Neal (Penguins).
*Shea Weber, Nashville Predators
*Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
*Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis Blues
*Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
Kris Letang, Pittsburgh Penguins
Jay Bouwmeester, Calgary Flames
Weber and Doughty have everything going for them. Two of the top all-around defensemen in the game, they would log heavy minutes on any country's Olympic defense.
Some are calling Pietrangelo this season's top candidate for the Norris Trophy. Doughty was just 20 years old when he was arguably Canada's top defenseman in 2010. So it's hard to imagine the management team being put off by Pietrangelo's youth and lack of big-game experience.
Speaking of big-game experience, Keith and Seabrook have loads, though they're often singled out when things aren't going well for the Blackhawks.
Keith's job looks safe. Seabrook I'm not so sure about. He, Letang, and Buowmeester need to hold off rivals like Marc Staal (Rangers) and Dan Girardi (Rangers).
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks
Cam Ward, Carolina Hurricanes
Canada's edge in net has long since disappeared. None of the 2014 candidates would be mistaken for Patrick Roy or Martin Brodeur in his prime.
Luongo's 2010 Olympic title doesn't convince detractors, who blame him for a blown lead in the gold medal game and a nearly-blown lead in the semifinal against Slovakia. But if the Sochi tournament began today, he's the likely starter. Looks good early in 2013, and his Team Canada track record dates back to a memorable performance in the 2004 World Cup semifinal.
Price is arguably the better goalie when he's on his game. But his best year remains 2007, when he led Canada to a World Junior title and won the American Hockey League championship a few months later. His NHL career has been up and down. Team Canada and the Canadiens would love to see consistent play over the next year.
Speaking of consistency, Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury played his way off the team with his meltdown in last spring's Stanley Cup playoffs. Team Canada vet Cam Ward looks like the safest choice for the number-three spot right now.