The World Cup of Hockey, to be played in
Sept. 2016 in Toronto, is an eight team tournament showcasing the world’s best
hockey players. The eight teams participating include: Canada, United States,
North America, Sweden, Russia, Finland, Czech Republic and Europe. Team North
America is differentiated from Canada and the U.S. as it will consist strictly
of players 23 years and younger. Team Europe will be comprised of players from
European nations other than those that have a full squad. Now that initial
rosters have been released, here is a look at each team.
Canada: The winner of the last two Olympic gold medals, the Canadian team is
the projected favorite for this tournament once again. The team is full of
All-Stars including Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Duncan Keith and Shea Weber.
The only potential weakness is projected starting goalie Carey Price who is
dealing with lingering injuries and may be rusty when games start. Even if he
can’t play though, backups Braden Holtby and Corey Crawford are more than
capable of filling in.
United States: The United States has gotten so close to success in the last two
Olympics, but twice had their dreams dashed by Team Canada. This team is a mix
of veterans like Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler and Zach Parise and new blood
including Dustin Byfuglien and Justin Abdelkader. General Manager Dean Lombardi
did not pick only big name scorers, but looks to have built a more balanced
squad to match Canada’s.
North America: This team will likely be the most interesting and fun group to
watch. Filled with lesser known but highly talented players like Jack Eichel,
Connor McDavid and Aaron Ekblad, this team could surprise in this tournament.
Sweden: Featuring 83 current NHL players and coming off a silver medal in the
Sochi Olympics, the Swedes are a potential threat to win it all this time. Led
by Henrik Lundqvist in goal and reigning Norris trophy winner Erik Karlsson and
his defensive colleagues, it will be extremely difficult to score against them.
While their offense isn’t as strong as some other teams’, they should be able
to contain their opponents and get some low scoring victories.
Russia: Loaded with scoring potential (Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, etc.), the
Russian club will be able to light the lamp as well as anyone. The problem lies
in their defense and goaltending. They will likely have to win some high
scoring games to advance.
Finland: Finland is lacking offensive firepower, with none of its forwards
scoring at least 20 goals this season. To have a chance, they will have to rely
on veteran goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Pekka Rinne to carry the load.
Czech Republic: Lacking scoring punch and top tier defensemen, the Czech team
will have an uphill battle to compete. The most interesting storyline is a
player not on the team, Jaromir Jagr. Jagr stated two years ago he was done
with international competition. If he changes his mind though, he would be the
player to watch.
Team Europe: The first 16 players
picked for the team come from seven different countries. While they have a
balanced roster, the main question is how will total strangers with little
practice time play together?
Labels: Eric Bokobza