The World Hockey Championships start today!
When can I start watching? Today! The NHL Network is showing Sweden vs. Russia at 10:00am Eastern. That’ll be followed by Team USA vs. Germany at 2:00pm Eastern, then a rebroadcast of Czech Republic vs. Canada at 8:00pm Eastern.
What happened last year? Brad Marchand and Team Canada won gold! They defeated Finland 2-0 in the finals in Moscow, Finland taking Silver. Russia lit up Team USA 7-2 in the bronze medal game. Kazakhstan and Hungary relegated to Division I, while Slovenia and Italy were promoted to the top tier.
So the WHC was in Moscow and St. Petersburg last year. Where is it this year? Germany and France are co-hosting in 2017, Köln (Cologne) in Germany and Paris in France. Asterix and Obelix are the mascots.
SPOILER ALERT: Denmark cannot be relegated this year because they are hosting next year – host countries are automatically qualified. Austria and South Korea finished #1 and #2, respectively, in the Division I Group A championships this year, so they’ll be promoted to the top tier in 2018.
I did jersey reviews last year. This year there isn’t much good information on what jerseys everyone is wearing, so I’ll do a jersey review article after I’ve watched some games. We definitely have some new ones with Slovenia and Italy in the mix.
Here’s the lowdown on the teams competing:
Group A (playing in Cologne)
Actual name: Росси́я (Rossija)
What happened last year? Second in Group A, Bronze
Do I know any of these people? Andrei Vasilevski, Ivan Provorov, Artemi Panarin, Nikita Kucherov, and Vladislav Namestnikov are your NHLers. Everyone else on the roster comes from the KHL. There’s a good chance Vadim Shipachyov will sign with an NHL team this year, so here’s a good chance to take a look at him.
Possible NHL reinforcements: A lot of firepower. Anton Slepyshev, Pavel Buchnevich, Evgeni Malkin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Nail Yakupov, Ivan Barbashev, Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetzov, Dmitri Orlov.
Actual name: USA
What happened last year? Fourth in Group B, Fourth overall
Do I know any of these people? Charlie McAvoy and Anders Bjork makes their WHC debut! Team USA has traditionally used the WHC as a development opportunity and this year is no different – the bulk of the team is between 18 and 24 years old. Nearly all of them are in the NHL, but a few are from the NCAA, such as Anders Bjork, Jordan Greenway, and Daniel Brickley.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Cam Fowler, John Gibson, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Jimmy Vesey, Brady Skjei, Adam Clendening, Jake Guentzel, Brian Dumoulin, Jordan Schmaltz, Nate Schmidt. Huh, perhaps Phil Kessel, who was suspiciously left off of the Team USA World Cup roster, but he might be too busy winning the Stanley Cup this year.
Actual name: Sverige
What happened last year? Third in Group A, Sixth overall
Do I know any of these people? Carl Soderberg finally gets to play for Team Sweden! Not much in the big names in forwards – Gabriel Landeskog is the best of the bunch. However, the defense looks great with the likes of Viktor Hedman, Jonas Brodin, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Piles of ’em, most notably Henrik Lundqvist or Erik Karlsson, depending on which of the Rangers or Senators are eliminated. Expect the Tre Kroner to greatly build in strength as the NHL playoffs move along.
Actual name: Deutschland
What happened last year? Third in Group B, Seventh overall
Do I know any of these people? Sturmface is the head coach! Old friend Dennis Seidenberg, Thomas Greiss, and Tobias Rieder are the NHLers on the roster. The rest come from the DEL – I’m looking forward to watching Marcus Kink of Adler Mannheim, my “hometown” team when I lived in Germany.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Leon Draisaitl of the Oilers, Korbinian Holzer of the Ducks, Tom Kuhnhackl of the Penguins, and Philipp Grubauer of the Caps. Germany’s gonna need all the help they can get.
Actual name: Danmark
What happened last year? Fourth in Group A, Eighth overall
Do I know any of these people? Umm…Nikolaj Ehlers of the Jets? Perhaps you’ve heard of the super-Danish-sounding Patrick Russell of the Bakersfield Condors. Everyone else plays in Germany, Sweden, or Finland.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Just Lars Eller of the Caps.
Actual name: Slovensko
What happened last year? Fifth in Group B, Ninth overall
Do I know any of these people? Amazingly, no. There’s not a single Slovak NHLer on the roster. They all play in the Czech League, the Slovak League, or the KHL. Their coach is Zdeno Ciger, who did play in the NHL. Zdeno Chara’s taking a break and Tomas Tatar is out with a shoulder injury. Wow, even Halak opted out.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Looks like Andrej Sekera is it.
Actual name: Latvija
What happened last year? Seventh in Group A, Thirteenth overall
Do I know any of these people? The Ghost Dog, Kaspars Daugavins! Also Zemgus Girgensons. Otherwise it’s most of the Dinamo Riga KHL team and a handful of others.
Possible NHL reinforcements: None.
Actual name: Italia
What happened last year? Finished #2 in the 2016 Division I Group A championship in Katowice, Poland and were promoted to the top tier.
Do I know any of these people? Giulio Scandella is Marco Scandella’s brother. I recognize Thomas Larkin from Adler Mannheim. The rest of the roster mostly comes from the Austrian leagues.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Nope.
Group B (playing in Paris)
Actual name: Canada
What happened last year? Second in Group B, Gold
Do I know any of these people? The entire roster is NHLers, but few of Canada’s top players. Claude Giroux is the captain, and they have Mark Scheifele and Mitch Marner on offense, too. Defensively, the highly-skilled yet underrated Marc-Edouard Vlasic is on their roster, but so is Calvin de Haan. Hi, I’m Chad Johnson and Calvin Pickard are their goalies. Looks like Team Canada’s taking it easy after winning the World Cup.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Plenty, but most of the best were on the World Cup roster and will likely sit out the WHC.
Actual name: Suomi
What happened last year? First in Group B, Silver
Do I know any of these people? Not as many as you’d expect. There’s old buddy Joonas Kemppainen, plus Joonas Korpisalo, one of the Sebastian Ahos, Markus Hannikainen, Valtteri Filppula, and Mikko Rantanen. Oh, and Julius Honka, a top prospect for the Dallas Stars. The rest are in the KHL or the Finnish league. Tuukka played in the World Cup, so he’s sitting this one out.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Sami Vatanen, Iiro Pakarinen, Miika Salomaki, Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros, Aanti Raanta, Jyrki Jokipakka, Olli Maata, Jori Lehtera,
Actual name: Česko
What happened last year? First in Group A, Fifth overall
Do I know any of these people? PASTA!!!! But not Krejci. Or Jagr. Also on the roster are Petr Mrazek, Radko Gudas, Michal Kempny, Turtleneck Plekanec, and Jakub Voracek. A player to watch for (other than Pasta, of course), is Jakub Jerabek, a defenseman who was recently signed by the Habs.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Dominik Simon, a Penguins prospect? Dmitrij Jaskin and Vladimir Sobotka of the Blues.
Actual name: Norge
What happened last year? Fifth in Group A, Tenth overall
Do I know any of these people? Mats Zuccarello is still in the playoffs, so no. Oh wait, Andreas Martinsen? He was with the Avs but was traded to the Habs, but is now a UFA.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Mats Zuccarello.
Actual name: Confoederatio Helvetica
What happened last year? Sixth in Group A, Eleventh overall
Do I know any of these people? You might remember Jonas Hiller, Raphael Diaz, and Damien Brunner. Something called a Denis Malgin plays for the Panthers.
Possible NHL reinforcements: Oh that’s where they all are. Roman Josi and Yannick Weber of the Predators. Jonas Siegenthaler of the Caps or Mark Streit of the Penguins.
Actual name: Белару́сь (Bielaruś)
What happened last year? Sixth in Group B, Twelfth overall
Do I know any of these people? Unless you follow Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, the only names you’ll recognize are the infamous Kostitsyn brothers. Oh and head coach Dave Lewis.
Possible NHL reinforcements: None.
Actual name: France
What happened last year? Seventh in Group B, Fourteenth overall
Do I know any of these people? Cristobal Huet?!? Seriously?!? Still?!? Apart from him, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Antoine Roussel.
Possible NHL reinforcements: None.
Actual name: Slovenija
What happened last year? Finished #1 in the 2016 Division I Group A championship in Katowice, Poland and were promoted to the top tier.
Do I know any of these people? No, because Anže Kopitar isn’t on the roster this year. He was on the World Cup roster for Team Europe, so presumably he’s getting himself some rest after a rough season.
Possible NHL reinforcements: None. It’s not looking good for Slovenia this year, apart from being in the tournament at all.