The World Cup of Hockey starts on Saturday, Sept. 17. While pre-tournament games begin this evening, the xHockeyProducts team is excited for the tournament to begin. That’s why we are breaking down every team and providing the chances every roster has to win it all.
We start with the NHL’s conglomerate group of players, Team Europe. The roster is comprised of European players who do not hail from the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden or Russia. The roster features players from Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia and Switzerland.
|Group A||Group B|
|Team Canada||Team Finland|
|Team Czech Republic||Team North America|
|Team Europe||Team Russia|
|Team USA||Team Sweden|
|Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (France) – PHI||Mikkel Boedker (Denmark) – COL||Zdeno Chara (Slovakia) – BOS||Thomas Greiss (Germany) – NYI|
|Leon Draisaitl (Germany) – EDM||Marian Gaborik (Slovakia) – LAK||Christian Ehrhoff (Germany) – Unsigned||Philipp Grubauer (Germany) – WSH|
|Jannik Hansen (Denmark) – VAN||Marian Hossa (Slovakia) – CHI||Roman Josi (Switzerland) – NSH||Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia) – NYI|
|Anze Kopitar (Slovenia) – LAK||Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland) – MIN||Dennis Seidenberg (Germany) – Unsigned|
|Frans Nielsen (Denmark) – DET||Tobias Reider (Germany) – ARZ||Andrej Sekera (Slovakia) – EDM|
|Tomas Tatar (Slovakia) – DET||Thomas Vanek (Austria) – DET||Luca Sbisa (Switzerland) – VAN|
|Mats Zuccarello (Norway) – NYR||Mark Streit (Switzerland) – PHI|
Team Europe boasts one of the top centers in the game. Anze Kopitar, last season’s Frank J. Selke Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defensive forward, will likely see top minutes in every game, shutting down opposing teams’ top forward units. If he can play at the elite level he has played in previous NHL postseasons, Team Europe will be as competitive as anyone.
Team Europe’s top defensive pairing, Roman Josi and Zdeno Chara, will prove to be a force on the back end. Although Chara, 39, is on the latter end of his career, he can still be a menacing presence with a blistering slap shot from the point. Josi will provide stability and the endurance to eat minutes in every contest.
Outside of Kopitar, Mikkel Boedker and Marian Hossa, the potential top line for the squad, Team Europe could struggle to find consistent goal scoring throughout the lineup. Although the team has plenty of talent to make up a quality NHL roster (Leon Draisaitl, Tomas Tatar, Mats Zuccarello), the talent in Group A could prove to be difficult for Europe to overcome.
A major obstacle for Team Europe to conquer falls in the team’s inability to play international tournaments together in the past. This roster is made up of professional players from different countries across Europe. Every other team in this tournament will not have this barrier.
In total, Team Europe consists of six Slovakians, five Germans, four Danes, four Swiss, and one player each from Austria, France, Norway and Slovenia.
Player to Watch
Leon Draisaitl, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, has played in numerous international tournaments, including this year’s World Championships. Germans have watched the young forward develop into a reliable, hard-working scoring threat over the years, and the 2016 World Cup seems to be a premiere stage for the 20-year-old.
Slotted to play top-six minutes with Team Europe, Draisaitl will likely be embarking on a long NHL journey. With the 2016 World Cup kicking off what seems to be his first full NHL season, the Cologne, Germany, native will be as hungry as anyone to prove that he belongs skating with the elite.
What It Will Take to Win
A team that consists of non-countrymen will take a lot of time to gel within the tournament. Luckily, the NHL has included pre-tournament games, which each team participates in three. Europe’s coaching staff will have to work magic to bring this team together if they want a shot at winning the whole tournament.
Team Europe will have to hope that every player on the roster is dedicated. It will be difficult to play for a team in an international tournament that is not technically your home country. If the players can find a sense of pride and rally around it, they may have an outside shot of advancing to the semifinal round.
Saturday, Sept. 17
Team USA vs. Team Europe, 3:30 p.m., ESPN2
Monday, Sept. 19
Team Europe vs. Team Czech Republic, 3 p.m., ESPN
Wednesday, Sept. 21
Team Europe vs. Team Canada, 8 p.m., ESPN2
Feature photo courtesy aceattorneymvp | Flickr
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