Analyzing the preliminary rosters for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Analyzing the preliminary rosters for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey does not begin for another six months, but the fun begins today with the announcement of rosters for the eight-team tournament. Each country’s organization will name the first 16 players. Their final seven positions will be filled in early June.


Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay Lightning), Jonathan Quick (Los Angeles Kings), and Cory Schneider are the goalies (New Jersey Devils)

Team USA is expected to compete in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

Dustin Byfuglien (Winnipeg Jets), John Carlson (Washington Capitals), Ryan McDonagh (New York Rangers), and Ryan Suter (Washington Capitals) play defense (Minnesota Wild)

Forwards: Justin Abdelkader (Detroit Red Wings); Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks); Ryan Kesler (Anaheim Ducks); T.J. Oshie (Washington Capitals); Max Pacioretty (Montreal Canadiens); Zach Parise (Minnesota Wild); Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks); Derek Stepan (New York Rangers); Blake Wheeler (Washington Capitals); Blake Wheeler (W (Winnipeg Jets)

The Short Version: Dean Lombardi relied heavily on veterans from the Sochi Olympics when naming his Original 16 for the World, but by mixing in a few new faces, he’s delivered a roster that should be a nightmare to play against.

It’s clear that he wanted to emphasize that aspect with this group, as evidenced by the inclusion of Justin Abdelkader and Dustin Byfuglien while leaving out Tyler Johnson, Phil Kessel, and Justin Faulk. On the forecheck and penalty kill, Abdelkader has uncanny speed and a relentless presence. Byfuglien is a man mountain whose physical play can alter the course of a game.

That’s not to say Johnson and Kessel, or others in their shoes, won’t be invited to the second group. However, by naming these specific players first, Lombardi is making it clear what he expects from this club. And that approach is sure to appeal to American fans who are sick of their team finishing second all the time.

Jonathan Quick, a two-time Cup winner, is the likely starter for Team USA. If he falters, coach John Tortorella should be able to rely on Cory Schneider or Ben Bishop, who won bronze with the Americans at the 2013 World Championships.

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The D’s core is as good as any in the tournament. Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, and Carlson are Sochi veterans who provide a right-left balance to the group.

Three of the NHL’s top-25 goal scorers (Patrick Kane, Joe Pavelski, and Max Pacioretty) are among the forwards, as is a good mix of size (Blake Wheeler), truculence (Ryan Kesler), and determination (Ryan Kesler) (Zach Parise).

It cannot compete with Canada’s ability. But what if it comes down to a willpower battle? This group may have what it takes.

6:45 PM: National treasure Roberto Luongo:

6:05 PM CANADA TEAM (Official)

Corey Crawford (Chicago Blackhawks), Braden Holtby (Washington Capitals), and Carey Price (Washington Capitals) are the goaltenders (Montreal Canadiens)

Predicting Canada’s World Cup roster ahead of the deadline

Drew Doughty (Los Angeles Kings), Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (San Jose Sharks), and Shea Weber (Chicago Blackhawks) play defense (Nashville Predators)

Forwards: Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars); Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins); Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings); Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins); Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks); Tyler Seguin (Dallas Stars); Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning); John Tavares (New York Islanders); Jonathan Toews (New York Islanders); Jonathan Toews ( (Chicago Blackhawks)

The Short Version: Canada’s early roster selections were a breeze, according to coach Mike Babcock. “They only allowed us to name 16, so it’s simple. My wife could have named Canada’s first sixteen. The difficult part comes next.”

It does, indeed. Given the talent he had to work with, there was no way he could mess up this early group. GM Doug Armstrong took a safe (and wise) approach, relying heavily on the core of the team that dominated in Sochi.

Carey Price is a question mark due to a lingering lower-body injury, but if he’s healthy, he’ll be the obvious starter. If not, Canada can “fall back” on Braden Holtby, who is on pace to set a single-season win record, or Corey Crawford, who has backstopped two Stanley Cup winners. It has a wealth of resources that no other country can match.

Canada’s top four in Sochi were Doughty, Keith, Weber, and Vlasic. It’s impossible to argue with their choice.

There are seven returning players and two newcomers in Steven Stamkos and Tyler Seguin. It’s a lineup that includes two 30-goal scorers (Benn and Seguin) and five other 20-goal scorers (Stamkos, Bergeron, Crosby, Toews and Tavares). No other team can compete with their depth or championship experience.

The debate has begun. Every time a Canadian squad is chosen, there are players at home who should have been there. There will undoubtedly be questions about why Sochi veterans like Corey Perry and P.K. Subban were not included in this initial group, as well as why rising stars like Brad Marchand, Claude Giroux, Brent Burns, and Taylor Hall were passed over. The majority of them are likely to be in the second group, but there are no guarantees when it comes to Canadian teams. We’ll see how this affects their performance in the final stretch.

5:52 PM: Even before the first puck is dropped, the NHL and NHLPA have agreed to make the World Cup a four-year event.

“We’re committed to a regular schedule of multiple tournaments,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told Sportsnet. “So, I believe we’re committed for 2020.”

“This was the plan – to create an ongoing event, establish the brand, establish the identity, and move forward,” Don Fehr, executive director of the NHL Players’ Association, explained.

5:50 PM: A closer look at that awesome Team North America sweater:


Goaltenders: John Gibson (Anaheim Ducks), Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets), and Matt Murray (Washington Capitals) (Pittsburgh Penguins)

Creating a World Cup roster for North America

Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers), Seth Jones (Columbus Blue Jackets), Ryan Murray (Columbus Blue Jackets), and Morgan Rielly (Columbus Blue Jackets) (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Forwards: Sean Couturier (Philadelphia Flyers), Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres), Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary Flames), Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers), J.T. Miller (New York Rangers), Sean Monahan (Calgary Flames), and Brandon Saad (Calgary Flames (Columbus Blue Jackets)

The skinny: “There’s not a lot for us to lose in this situation,” said Connon McDavid of the U-23 squad. “People don’t have high hopes for us. However, we have the ability to surprise people.”

They do, indeed. It all starts in net, where Team NA has an All-Star in Anaheim’s John Gibson, as well as Connor Hellebuyck, who won seven games and posted a 1.37 GAA to lead Team USA to an unlikely bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships. The defense is stacked with size, speed, and playmaking ability, led by Aaron Ekblad, who is averaging 20 points per game. And up front, the team boasts some of the game’s most gifted offensive players, including Johnny Gaudreau, the NHL’s sixth leading scorer with 63 points, and three other 20-goal scorers: Brandon Saad, Sean Monahan, and Nathan MacKinnon.

Then there’s McDavid, the brilliant rookie who is second only to NHL leader Patrick Kane in points per 60 minutes.

Clearly, the North American bench has enough depth to surprise any team in the tournament. They are lacking in experience. These are all capable players who have demonstrated their ability to handle big moments at various levels. But now they must prove themselves against Jonathan Toews, Anze Kopitar, and Kane in a big game. This is where this team could get into trouble.

Shayne Gostisbehere of Philadelphia, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton, Jonathan Huberdeau of Florida, and Boone Jenner of Columbus were all unexpected omissions from the initial roster. The majority of those players will be in the second group, but the competition for jobs speaks well of this team’s depth and potential.

TEAM EUROPE 4:33 PM (Official)

Goalies: Jaroslav Halak (Anaheim Ducks); Frederik Andersen (Anaheim Ducks) (New York Islanders)

Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins); Roman Josi (Nashville Predators); Dennis Seidenberg (Boston Bruins); Andrej Sekera (Edmonton Oilers); Mark Streit (Boston Bruins) (Philadelphia Flyers)

Forwards include Mikkel Boedker of the Colorado Avalanche, Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, Jannik Hansen of the Vancouver Canucks, Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings, Frans Nielsen of the New York Islanders, Tomas Tatar of the Detroit Red Wings, Thomas Vanek of the Minnesota Wild, and Mats Zuccarello of the Minnesota Wild (New York Rangers)

The Short Version: Team Europe general manager Miroslav Satan had his pick of players from every country except Russia, Sweden, Finland, and the Czech Republic. To create his original 16, he drew from seven different countries.

What is the next challenge? “We have a new group of players who have only recently played against each other,” he explained. “We need to make this new logo something to play for.”

Team Europe’s leadership is prepared to build a World Cup squad from the ground up.

That will be difficult, especially since players like Mark Streit and Marian Hossa have spoken out against the idea. However, once the guys are in the room, they may be inspired by the assembled talent and the opportunity to make a difference in a way that they probably couldn’t with their own national teams.

Frederik Andersen of Denmark isn’t a star, but he’s a reliable NHL starter. He’ll provide the team with a consistent presence between the pipes. Jaroslav Halak has 21 international games with Slovakia, but his Islanders teammate, German Thomas Greiss, may end up pushing Andersen for time if he is named to the second group.

Roman Josi leads the D corps with distinction. Over the last two years, the Swiss veteran has established himself as one of the top-10 defenders in the game. This unit will follow him wherever he goes. The wild card is Zdeno Chara. The Slovakian legend is nearing the end of his career at 39, but he may still have some elite hockey left in him.

Up front, there’s a good mix of experience and youth. Anze Kopitar of Slovenia and Marian Hossa of Slovakia have both won Stanley Cups and will be counted on to set the tone in the room. Leon Draisaitl of Germany is a rising star whose speed and physicality position him to make an impact.

It’s worth noting that Marian Gaborik and Nino Niederreiter were left off the list. Both players appear to bring the speed and finishing touch that this team will require to stay competitive.

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