Jake Muzzin, Ryan Callahan and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are all headed to the World Cup of Hockey. Which means some elite players will be watching from the couch.
With all due respect to the deserving players who did make the tournament’s final 23-man rosters Friday, we won’t call the following players “snubs.”
Except for Phil Kessel. The dude totally got snubbed. So did Alex Galchenyuk.
Here is a list of 14 notable omissions from the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Phil Kessel, Team USA
Last time Phil Kessel wore the red, white and blue, at the 2014 Olympics, all he did was fire five goals and add three assists in six games, lead the tournament in points, and get crowned best forward in Sochi.
Today, Kessel can be seen leading all of the Stanley Cup Final–bound Penguins in post-season goals (nine) and points (18) and is nearly a point-per-game player over his playoff career.
American winger James van Riemsdyk, who’s coming off a broken foot and hasn’t played since Jan. 9, did make the cut Friday. As did Swedish Penguins forwards Carl Hagelin and Patric Hornqvist.
Ask Swedish goalie Henrik Lundqvist (Kessel’s Round 1 victim) or Canadian goalie Braden Holtby (Round 2 victim) if they’re relieved they won’t have to face that shot.
Kris Letang, Team Canada
With all due respect to Sweden, Canada’s blue line is the toughest to crack. More fuss might be made about P.K. Subban being omitted from the squad, but Letang should be ticked off.
The Penguins are not in the Cup Final without their No. 1 defender, who logs nearly 29 minutes a night. Letang piled up 67 points from the back end this season (third overall) while remaining a plus-9. This one is a shocker.
Chicago’s Brent Seabrook and Calgary’s Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie all came up short here, too.
The reliable Jake Muzzin — an analytics darling and Drew Doughty’s familiar partner — surprised them all.
P.K. Subban, Team Canada
When left off the initial 16-man roster, a confident Subban said he would let his body of work speak for itself. The 2013 Norris Trophy winner tasted gold in Sochi and put up 51 points for the Habs this season. He opted not to play for Team Canada at the World Championship, but so did Muzzin.
Jaromir Jagr, Team Czech Republic
Jagr made this decision for himself; GM Martin Rucinsky would’ve welcomed the 44-year-old icon with open arms and puckered lips. Jagr excelled for his country at the 2015 world championship, his last international event, so we were hoped that once he re-signed with Florida for 2016-17, he’d grace Toronto with his glory a month early. Instead, underdog Team Czech will have to skate on without its top goal-scorer of 2015-16.
Tyler Johnson, Team USA
Johnson had an injury-plagued and marginally disappoint regular season, but the centre rebounded to put up 17 points in 17 playoff games for the Lightning. He was the second-highest American scorer in 2014-15 and the NHL’s leading goal-getter in the 2015 playoffs.
The U.S., coached by John Tortorella and GM’d by Dean Lombardi, is going full grit with its forward depth. Justin Abdelkader, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky all made the team over Kessel, Johnson, Kyle Okposo and Bobby Ryan.
Corey Perry, Team Canada
Perry’s strangely horrid start to 2015-16 was Crosby-esque, but much like Sid, the former Hart Trophy winner returned to his old self. Perry finished with 34 goals on the season, fifth among Canadians. Factor in his established chemistry with centre Ryan Getzlaf, his captaining Canada to a World Championship gold medal on Sunday, and the Triple Gold Club member was believed to be a lock for the Supplementary Seven.
John Klingberg, Team Sweden
Of Sweden’s top 11 scorers this season, super-sophomore Klingberg is the only omission from the roster. The Tre Kronor instead added Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm to what is arguably the scariest blue line in the tournament.
Klingberg’s 58 points placed him fifth among all NHL D-men this season. His plus-22 rating ranked sixth among everyone at his position.
Yet he joins Anaheim’s awesome Hampus Lindholm, 22, on the outside looking in. The Swedes clearly value experience over youth here.
Alex Galchenyuk, Team North America
Montreal’s new No. 1 centre enjoyed a breakout 30-goal campaign and was on fire late in the season. The American will watch 23-year-old Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (12 goals) of Edmonton go to Toronto instead. Can’t help but wonder if GM Peter Chiarelli felt obligated to take the Oiler.
Canada’s Boone Jenner and Max Domi also failed to make a competitive forward group.
Ryan O’Reilly, Team Canada
One of hockey’s most versatile and underrated talents, O’Reilly quietly stabilized Team Canada’s gold medal run at the worlds, putting up nine points in 10 games. He excels in all situations, wins face-offs, kills penalties but never takes them, and was the biggest reason Buffalo was the NHL’s most improved team this year.
An understandable victim of a crazy-deep country, but he deserves a shoutout here.
Justin Faulk, Team USA
Faulk has represented his country on the big stage every year since 2010, capturing four medals in the process. We were shocked when Faulk was left off the original 16-man roster, but a career-worst minus-22 rating didn’t help his case.
Another Sochi regular, Kevin Shattenkirk, put up 44 points and was excellent for the Blues all year. His absence is notable, too.
Big, stay-at-home Jack Johnson, who plays for Tortorella’s Blue Jackets, is a mild surprise on the U.S. blue line.
Gustav Nyquist, Team Sweden
Certainly we thought Nyquist had a horse in this race, but the high-flying Red Wings winger scored 10 fewer goals this season than he did in 2014-15. Nyquist, Rickard Rakell, Victor Rask and Mika Zibanejad lost out on spots taken by newly added forwards Carl Hagelin, Patric Hornqvist, Marcus Kruger and Jakob Silfverberg.
Brendan Gallagher, Team Canada
The role of Canada’s agitating winger will instead be filled by Brad Marchand, who scored an incredible 37 goals for Boston this season.
Both Marchand and Gallagher went to Russia and won gold medals with Team Canada last week. The Canadien was in the running, but we agree with GM Doug Armstrong’s choice of Marchand.
Alexander Radulov, Team Russia
Is the Russian national team irked by Radulov’s desire to return to the NHL? He shouldn’t be left off based on merit.
The winger has been good for a point per game in each of his four seasons with CSKA. This season Radulov — a two-time IIHF world champion — put up 23 goals and 42 assists in 53 games, finishing second in KHL scoring.
Ilya Kovachuk, Team Russia
Evgenii Dadonov and Vadim Shipachev, two of Kovalchuk’s teammates on SKA St. Petersburg, got the call Friday. But no Kovalchuk.
After finishing sixth overall in KHL scoring, the 33-year-old star had a tumultuous and bizarre playoff as his performance, desire and future were all questioned.