With the World Cup of Hockey less than three weeks away, it is officially time to start covering and getting excited for the beginning of this “best-on-best” tournament. In what will be the first of three articles posted every Wednesday before the tournament begins on September 17th, this first article will cover line projections for each country.
Maybe the most mysterious team in this tournament, Team Europe has exceptional skill on its roster. The only question about this team is whether its players from different countries from across Europe can come together quickly enough to make a run through the tournament.
With three goalies that are all solid but not exceptional, Team Europe may go through their training camp and decide their goalie based on who is playing the best. Halak is the starter over Greiss for the New York Islanders when healthy, but when Halak went down, Greiss was brilliant in the playoffs. Anderson has all the qualities of a #1 goalie. This position is entirely a toss up.
Roman Josi – Andrej Sekera
Zdeno Chara – Dennis Seidenberg
Christian Ehroff – Mark Streit
Extra: Luca Sbisa
It would have been very easy to put these pairings together by countrymen, so instead these pairings were put together by what made the most hockey sense, which was difficult because they are all left-handed defensemen. Josi is a top three defenseman in the world, and Seidenberg and Chara play together on the Boston Bruins. This team is heavy on veterans so it will be interesting to see if they have the legs necessary to do well in the tournament.
Thomas Vanek – Anze Kopitar – Marian Gaborik
Tomas Tatar – Leon Draisaitl – Marian Hossa
Mikkel Boedker – Frans Nielsen – Mats Zucarello
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Nino Niederreiter – Jannik Hansen
Extra: Tobias Rieder
By my account there are only three true centers on this roster so that made the construction of the lines difficult. What made things more difficult was deciding on the players that would play on the first line with Kopitar. If Europe Coach Ralph Krueger goes with the best players, than Hossa will join Kopitar. Regardless of the final line combinations, Team Europe will almost certainly do a lot of mix and matching throughout the tournament.