No doubt you've seen those World Cup of Hockey commercials running during the Stanley Cup Playoffs, touting an international tournament this September (the one with Bergeron is my favorite). If you've been willfully obtuse or just ignoring hockey for a bit, just know that the World Cup is a joint NHL/NHLPA venture meant to cater to North America's appetite for international tournament hockey without forcing them to wake up at 5am on a Saturday to watch it.
It's also a precursor to the NHL skipping the Olympics in 2018 for that very reason, but we'll worry about that when we get there. In the meantime, we've got Red Wings players already named to their countries' teams!
So far we've had four countries' rosters released:
The Finnish roster is well-stacked and pretty similar to the group that won silver at the recent IIHF World Championship, but will also include players like Valtteri Filppula, Joonas Donskoi, and Olli Maatta, who were all too busy in the NHL playoffs to join in. The Finns will have a very tough team to beat with well-balance forwards, puck-moving defensemen, and vezina-caliber goaltending.
Unsurpisingly, Teemu Pulkkinen was not among the 13 forwards selected.
The Russian squad has all the big names you're familiar with, and also some KHL stars who may or may not be heading over to the NHL next season. While we're not sure Pavel Datsyuk will still be a Red Wing in September, he's on this roster and he's a Red Wing now, so I'm still pulling for him.
Alexei Marchenko is the other Wings player representing Russia here. He helped the Russians earn bronze in the recent IIHF tourney, starting out with lower ice time and growing into one of Russia's more often-used defensemen.
The big question for this team right now is whether the NHL and NHLPA (or Canadian customs) will allow Slava Voynov to play. I'm hoping no.
The Czechs will be without Jaromir Jagr, who has said he's done playing in international tournaments, but they've got a good mix of forwards and good goaltending to make up for what is not likely to be the tournament's best defensive corps, which includes Radko Gudas as one of their top four.
Fortunately, they'll be covered well in net, as Petr Mrazek was selected to go along with Michal Neuvirth and Ondrej Pavelec.
Sweden will have a formidable team at this tournament with some of the very best defensemen and a deep forward corps. Victor Hedman and Erik Karlsson will likely take big minutes on the back end while Henrik Lundqvist minds the net. The Swedish forward corps is balanced, but their skill guys skew a little old.
Just two Red Wings swedes made this roster: Niklas Kronwall and Henrik Zetterberg. It's not surprising, as they've been Swedish stalwarts for a while and you can't just leave a former captain off the roster, but I'm wondering how hard it was for the Swedes to leave Gustav Nyquist off their roster after he led the entire team in goals during the IIHF WC... or how difficult it was to include Kronwall over Lindholm, Klingberg, or Larsson.
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The four remaining teams will be revealed this evening between 6-6:30pm ET. They include Team Europe (the non-Swede/Finn/Czech/Russia team), Team USA, Team Canada, and Team North America (the under-23 supergroup).
From that grouping, we should expect Dylan Larkin to find himself on Team North America while Justin Abdelkader is likely to be on Team USA. Danny DeKeyser could also find himself added to the roster before all is said & done.