Hockey fans have plenty to be enamoured with over the next few months.
In addition to the upcoming 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs and NHL Draft lottery, the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship – which begins May 1 in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic – is also on the horizon.
While it’s not as prestigious as the Olympics and doesn’t garner the same attention as the world juniors, the annual tourney still sees a collection of the best players in the world represent their countries.
As always, Team Canada’s roster will be difficult to assemble and it’s made more difficult with dozens of talented players unavailable either due to the Stanley Cup playoffs, injuries or electing to recover from the arduous NHL season.
Regardless of who ends up making the team, Canada will be considered one of the favourites to win it all. For some players this year’s worlds could even serve as an audition for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, while for others it could simply be an opportunity to gain experience on the international stage.
Typically with these rosters, there’s a mixture of veterans and youngsters with not every top available star making the team, so with that in mind, here is a collection of 13 forwards, seven defencemen, three goalies, plus a few wild cards we think have a decent chance at representing Team Canada.
Logan Couture – Many thought he was snubbed of a spot on last year’s Olympic team and this will be a great chance for him to wear the maple leaf on his chest.
Jamie Benn – The Olympic gold medallist is coming off yet another solid season with the Stars.
Tyler Seguin – He was in the Art Ross and Hart conversation until his knee injury.
Claude Giroux – No one in the NHL has more points than Claude Giroux over the past five seasons.
Scott Hartnell – Had 11 goals in 15 games in March.
Jordan Eberle – One of the most productive forwards in the NHL since January.
Ryan O’Reilly – One of the best two-way centres in the game.
Jarome Iginla – This could be one of the last chances Iginla has to represent his country. He would be captain material.
Tyler Ennis – He’s like a water bug in the offensive zone. Highly entertaining to watch.
Jeff Skinner – Has represented Canada at the worlds three times in the past.
Ryan Johansen – Another quality season makes his off-season contract dispute seem like a lifetime ago.
Adam Henrique – One of the few good, young players in New Jersey.
Brandon Pirri – Coming off a remarkably unique campaign.
Morgan Rielly – Slick skater was on the team last year.
Aaron Ekblad – This would be a great experience for the 18-year-old.
Tyson Barrie – One of the most underrated blueliners in the league.
Trevor Daley – Underappreciated veteran last played in this tournament in 2006.
Brent Burns – Leads all Canadian-born defencemen in points as of Wednesday.
David Savard – Coming off an impressive season in Columbus.
Michael Del Zotto – The pending RFA had a nice bounce-back season.
Cam Ward – Proved this season he still has some fight.
Calvin Pickard – Bright future for Varlamov’s backup.
James Reimer – Maybe wearing a different coloured maple leaf on his chest could cleanse the palate after a forgettable season.
Connor McDavid – There’s no rule saying you need to play in the NHL to be on Team Canada. Hockey Canada officials gave Ryan Murray a chance in 2012 prior to him going second overall to the Blue Jackets. If the Erie Otters are eliminated earlier than expected in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs he’ll get invited.
Andrew Hammond – The feel good story of the NHL season has never represented Canada at a major tournament.
Sean Monahan – Played for Canada as a rookie last season.
Bryan Little – Dangerous offensively and kills penalties well.
Mike Hoffman/Mark Stone – These Ottawa youngsters were a big part of the Sens’ turnaround.
Curtis Lazar – World Junior and World Championship gold in the same year might be too good to pass up, should the Sens miss the playoffs or face an early exit.
Kris Russell/TJ Brodie – These Flames defenders both had terrific seasons.
Tyler Myers – His play has improved since being traded by Buffalo.