Brady Tkachuk at 2024 Worlds

PRAGUE -- Bill Guerin admittedly has scribbled down different line and roster combinations about 20 times since being named general manager of the United States men's teams that will compete in the 2025 4 Nations Face-Off and 2026 Milano Cortina Olympics.

That number will undoubtedly grow over the coming weeks and months.

"It kind of comes at weird times where you've got a little time to think," Guerin said. "Just sitting there off the top of your head...but then you go and check your depth chart and you're like 'Oh God, I forgot about that guy, he's good and he could go…' and it can change. And you can make I don't know how many lineups right now.

"But it's a nice problem to have."

It's a problem Guerin, hired Feb. 8 for the role, is tasked with solving soon.

The inaugural 4 Nations Face-Off will be a best-on-best tournament with the United States, Canada, Finland and Sweden competing from Feb. 12-20, 2025. Each country will play seven games in a nine-day period in to-be-determined cities, one in the U.S. and one in Canada.

The Olympics will mark the return of NHL players for the first time since 2014 in Sochi, where the U.S. finished fourth.

"You're going to have to have everything," Guerin said. "Every team is going to be good. That's something that we'll talk about down the road a little bit, is the identity of the team. We have not done that yet. That's something, [coach Mike Sullivan] and I anyways, are going to have to come to an agreement on what we want to do and how we want it to look.

The 53-year-old has some help.

He will be joined on the management staff by assistant general managers Chris Drury of the New York Rangers, Tom Fitzgerald of the New Jersey Devils and Bill Zito of the Florida Panthers. Sullivan was named coach May 18.

"The hockey operations staff, we're going to have to work really closely with Mike on choosing the team because he's the coach, he's opening the door," Guerin said. "These are short tournaments. There's not going to be a lot of time to prep and practice and this and that, so he's got to be comfortable with the guys we have so we can get off to a good start. He'll be a big part of the process as well."

Guerin, who played 18 seasons in the NHL and is in his fifth season as GM of the Minnesota Wild, is no stranger to best-on-best tournaments.

He played for the United States when it last won a best-on-best tournament, the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, and in three Olympics (1998 Nagano; 2002 Salt Lake City; 2006 Torino), winning a silver medal in 2002 that's still on display in his office.

Guerin is keeping tabs on those who could help the U.S. medal next.

He traveled to Ostrava and Prague, Czechia, to watch the Unites States play in the 2024 IIHF World Championship. They were eliminated in the quarterfinal in a 1-0 loss to host Czechia on Thursday.

Several players caught his eye, however.

"A lot of guys," Guerin said. "Matt Boldy's played really well. Brock Nelson's good. Johnny Gaudreau's played great. Zach Werenski has played really well. We all know Seth Jones. Cole Caufield had a big night the other night.

"There are a lot of guys who have played really well, but the one thing I love about all these guys is their commitment. The commitment that they've shown is really important. We have to continue to put a great importance on this tournament, and I think it's just a great opportunity for guys to come over and represent their country. A lot of guys have impressed me. (Brady) Tkachuk's been great. His leadership qualities are through the roof. The guys, they're a fun group to be around.

"It's a great opportunity for us to actually really get to know some of them, too. We don't have a ton of time with them, but to meet guys personally and do things like that. It's been positive."

The World Championship could go a long way to not only helping Guerin form the final roster for the U.S., but determining the preliminary six names due for the 4 Nations Face-Off. Each country will unveil its first half-dozen players at a later date this summer.

It's a work in progress, Guerin admitted.

"That's a moving list," he said. "I think you just want to get it right, but there are just so many guys that we could name, but there's only six. There's a strategy. There's a couple different ways that we could go about it. Those are things we want to get together with our bigger group and kind of decide what's best."