In all honesty, the IIHF World Championship doesn’t offer much excitement for hockey fans in the United States. Avid fans tend to see it as a consolation prize for those who fail to make it to the NHL playoffs or wash out early. Still, I probably screamed for thirty seconds when Finland announced that Sebastian Aho was going to wear an A.
The Finnish national team doesn’t seem too interested in experimentation, keeping Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teräväinen together on the second line. Of course, this is probably a great idea, considering how well Carolina’s favorite Finnish duo played together during the regular season. It seems to be working, too, as they’ve combined on six goals thus far.
Through the first few days of the tournament, Aho already has four goals and six assists for a total of ten points in just two games. Half of those goals were assisted by Teräväinen, who’s playing in Worlds for the first time. He’s certainly making the most of it, having garnered three goals and five assists.
Aho, on the other hand, has competed for Finland in three straight World Championships now. It’s wonderful to see him taking on a leadership role. He’s the future of the Canes franchise and the more experience he has with letters on his chest, the better.
Martin Nečas has also been making a name for himself over the past few days. Playing for the Czech Republic, the 2017 first-round pick scored a clutch goal in the dying seconds of the third against Slovakia on May 5 to send the game into overtime. However, he then stumbled and crashed headfirst into the boards, lying prone for a few minutes before waving off a stretcher. So far, no official reports of any injuries have been released, but he was held out of Sunday’s game as a precaution.
The two Americans – Scott Darling and Derek Ryan – haven’t made as many waves so far this tournament. Darling has yet to play in a tournament game (although his American flag goalie pads look amazing). Ryan’s playing about 14 minutes a game and has an assist on Chris Kreider’s goal from Saturday to show for it, as well as a goal against Germany on Monday. To be fair, the United States men’s team has struggled to produce results at the senior level for a few years now, and this year’s roster doesn’t look terribly impressive.
There are still two weeks left in this tournament for Canes players to compete and prove themselves. Finland’s next game is on Tuesday at 2:15 PM EST against Norway, the Czechs play Switzerland at the same time, and the United States will play Latvia at 10:15 AM EST on Thursday morning.
- On Thursday, the Canes traded Marcus Kruger and a 2018 third-round pick to the Arizona Coyotes for Jordan Martinook and a 2018 fourth-rounder. A center, Kruger played 48 games with the club this past season and scored just a single goal and five assists. Martinook, on the other hand, played 81 games in the big leagues and finished the season with six goals and nine assists. Keep in mind that he did this on the third-worst club in the league (and worst in the Western Conference), so we’ll just have to see where this goes. This was also a salary dump – Kruger’s cap hit is $2.775 million a year and the Canes only retained 10% of it while taking on Martinook’s smaller $1.8 million cap hit. While the Canes have the second most cap room in the league, that’s surely going to change as they extend Noah Hanifin and begin work on extensions for Jeff Skinner, Teuvo Teräväinen, and Sebastian Aho.
- The front office shuffle just won’t stop. Ron Francis was finally relieved of all his duties with the Hurricanes and Joe Nieuwendyk resigned his position as a pro scout. Meanwhile, Rick Dudley came over from the Montreal Canadiens to act as the new VP of Hockey Operations. Interestingly enough, Francis was moved to that position to cut him out of the GM-owner conversations. However, any new GM will report directly to Dudley now, who then reports to Tom Dundon. For better or for worse, Dundon is definitely making this team his own.
- On Saturday night, the Checkers won 6-0 in Game 2 of the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs. Alex Nedeljkovic recorded a shutout, stopping all 26 shots he faced. It’s safe to say the future is bright at the goaltender position.