First 16: World Cup of Hockey

Dom Palombo, sports writer

The eight teams competing in this fall’s World Cup of Hockey each named their preliminary rosters of 16 players March 2. The 2016 tournament will take place in Toronto between Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, and will provide a different group of teams represented than in years past.

The teams are split into two groups, A and B, with four teams a side. Group A consists of Team Canada, Team Czech Republic, Team Europe and Team USA. Group B consists of Team Finland, Team North America, Team Russia and Team Sweden to round out the preliminary groups.

Team Europe and Team North America are the new teams that will be competing in Toronto and attempt to include the best players in the world from European countries big and small, and young stars in hockey. Team Europe is compiled of any player from a European country other than Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden. Team North America will be assembled from the best under-23 players out of Canada and the United States. The Team North America players must be born on or after Oct. 1, 1992 to be eligible for the team, but ineligible for Team USA and Team Canada.

The preliminary round will be played between Sept. 17-22. The top two teams from each group will play in the semifinals, Sept. 24-25, then the final two teams standing will play in a best-of-three series on Sept. 27, Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, if necessary.

This is the third installment of the World Cup of Hockey, the previous times coming in 1996 and 2004. Per ESPN NHL insider Pierre Lebrun, the NHL and NHL Players Association have confirmed to make the World Cup of Hockey a regular tournament every four years, like the FIFA World Cup, with the next event scheduled for 2020.

Team North America is the team to watch in this tournament because of the recent youth movement that saw them well represented at the NHL All Star Game in January with five selections.

The entire tournament will feature truly the best of the best, and all of the hockey world is waiting in anticipation for the tournament to begin in the fall.

Benn, Crosby, Doughty, Eichel, Kane, Karlsson, Keith, Kopitar, McDavid, Ovechkin, Price, Tarasenko, Toews. The list goes on and on.

Each team’s first 16 players:

Team Canada – Best team in the world with the best players around. Have unreal talent. Huge favorite.

Team Czech Republic – This team will be in the hands of star-goalie Petr Mrazek as the Czech defense is very limited in skill and ability.

 

Team Europe – Solid goaltending and veteran leadership from Chara, Kopitar and Hossa may not be enough to legitimately contend in the tournament from a probable lack of chemistry throughout the team.

 

Team Finland – The team is full of good, young players with some veterans in Koivu, Filppula, Jokinen, Rinne and Rask. Should be a tough out.

 

Team North America – The fast, dynamic under-23 team is sure to make some noise in September with a top goalie in John Gibson and starpower in McDavid, Eichel, Ekblad and more.

 

Team Russia – An offensive monster and top-notch goaltending that is going to be tough to stop for any team in the tournament. But the defense lacking in talent will be tough to overcome.

 

Team Sweden – The defense is incredible led by Lundqvist in goal and the 2015 Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson. The offense isn’t too shabby either.

 

Team USA – Led by Patrick Kane, the USA has the best player in the world, but will need to use it’s fantastic goalkeeping and solid play all around to play with the top dogs, Canada and Sweden.