Projected World Cup Roster: Team Europe

Sean Reynolds reports from Dallas where players comment on the dream of representing their country in hockey. will be projecting rosters for September’s World Cup of Hockey between now and when teams announce their first 16 selections beginning March 2. Today: Team Europe.

There are plenty of interesting roster dynamics built into the construction of Team Europe, not the least of which have to do with the fact players on GM Miroslav Satan’s team will come from eight or nine different countries.

Satan and his management staff face their toughest decisions up front, where veteran forwards Marian Gaborik and Mikhail Grabovski could be among those on the outside looking in after so-so seasons.

It would certainly rank as a surprise if either were one of the the first 16 players selected on March 2.

Watch: World Cup of Hockey Roster Announcement | March 2 at 4 p.m. ET on Sportsnet

The strength of this group lies down the middle, with Anze Kopitar, Leon Draisaitl and Frans Nielsen headlining the initial roster I’ve put together. The emergence of Draisaitl, in particular, is a huge boost for a team that will enter September’s tournament as a heavy underdog and faces the prospect of going up against Team Canada in the round-robin portion of the event.

What to do with the blue-line is a big question for head coach Ralph Krueger. The available group of NHL talent is extremely long in the tooth and features almost exclusively left-handed shooting defencemen, meaning that a couple players will likely have to play out of position.

The goalie pool for Team Europe is fairly small, so Frederik Andersen and Jaroslav Halak are slam-dunk choices for the first wave of roster selections.

There isn’t much to quibble over here. I decided to go with five defencemen among the initial 16 choices to maximize flexibility on the tougher forward decisions that need to be made when the final roster is due June 1.

In addition to the strong cast of centres, there is some decent scoring punch on the wings with Mats Zuccarello, Tomas Tatar and Thomas Vanek.

I plan to pair Marian Hossa and Kopitar together as two-thirds of the top line. Opposing teams will have serious difficulty controlling the puck when they’re on the ice.

Gaborik makes this team, but only as the 13th forward. It will be an unfamiliar position for him.

We’ve added some youth with Tobias Rieder and Nikolaj Ehlers, and plan to start them on a fourth line with Lars Eller at centre. They are options to be moved up the lineup if a shakeup is needed at some point during the tournament.

Yannick Weber gets the nod as seventh defenceman over Christian Ehrhoff, because he shoots right-handed. That could come in handy with all lefties otherwise.

The biggest snubs are Zemgus Girgensons and Grabovski, two natural centres who get edged out because the team is deep at the position. That’s how it goes.
These choices mean that Latvia (Girgensons), Belarus (Grabovski) and France (Antoine Roussel) won't have a representative on Team Europe for the tournament.

Here is how Sportsnet thinks Team Europe should take shape:

Head Coach: Ralph Krueger

GM/Executive Committee Members: Miroslav Satan (GM), Franz Reindl (President/Team Leader), Peter Bondra (scouting staff), Sean Burke (scouting staff).


Line 1: *Tomas Tatar *Anze Kopitar *Marian Hossa
Line 2: *Thomas Vanek *Leon Draisaitl *Mats Zuccarello
Line 3: *Mikkel Boedker *Frans Neilsen *Jannik Hansen
Line 4: Nikolaj Ehlers Lars Eller Tobias Reider
Extra Marian Gaborik

1st Pair: *Roman Josi *Mark Streit
2nd Pair: *Zdeno Chara *Andrej Sekera
3rd Pair *Dennis Seidenberg Luca Sbisa
Extra Yannick Weber

Starter: *Frederik Anderson
Backup: *Jaroslav Halak
Reserve: Thomas Greiss

*Denotes Group of 16 named on March 2.

Names that could still make things interesting:

C Zemgus Girgensons, C Mikhail Grabovski, RW Nino Niederreiter, LW Antoine Roussel, D Christian Ehrhoff, G Reto Berra