Sportsnet.ca 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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Starter: *Frederik Anderson
Backup: *Jaroslav Halak
Reserve: Thomas Greiss
*Denotes Group of 16 named on March 2.
Names that could still make things interesting: