Our road to the World Cup of Hockey 2016 reached an important signpost today, as all eight teams announced their final roster selections. By time Teams Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Sweden, Europe, USA, North America and Canada finished revealing their 23-man rosters, a total of
eight seven Winnipeg Jets had been named to the tournament.
In a move sure to delight Jets fans, Mark Scheifele, Jacob Trouba and Connor Hellebuyck were all named to Team North America (which features Canadian and American players 23-years-old and younger as of October 1st). With centres such Connor McDavid, Nathan MacKinnon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Sean Monahan and Sean Couturier also on the squad, one can't take Scheifele's presence in the lineup for granted, much less at his natural position. Having said that, he's also coming off of both an NHL career year and a successful tour of duty for Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, where he posted nine points in as many games.
After a rough beginning to 2015-16, Jacob Trouba beat out the likes of Matt Dumba, Dougie Hamilton, Cody Ceci and Noah Hanifin for his place on this d-corps. As Mark Spector said in an earlier projection, Trouba's ability as an "all-around defenceman who can adopt whichever role he is asked to play" likely made him a relatively easy choice to round out the roster. Connor Hellebuyck had already been named to the roster back in March, but with fellow netminder Matt Murray leading Pittsburgh to the Stanley Cup final, it seems likely Helle will play second fiddle come September.
Like Hellebuyck, the presence of Blake Wheeler and Dustin Byfuglien on Team USA was old news. But while their being on the squad was about as automatic as they come, the team John Tortorella, Dean Lombardi, Brian Burke & Co. have put together is not without controversy. In place of Phil Kessel and Justin Faulk, Team USA features current NHL luminaries Ryan Callahan and Jack Johnson. As Greg Wyshynski wrote, this "feels like a team that’s designed to play a conservative defensive game against the likes of Canada in the hopes of grinding out a 1-0 win in front of a stellar goalie. U-S-A!"
Ryan Callahan had 28 points this season. Phil Kessel scored 26 goals this season. Something seems off...— Todd Cordell (@ToddCordell) May 27, 2016
In keeping with the "previously announced" trend, Ondrej Pavelec's inclusion on Team Czech Republic comes as no surprise. However, with Petr Mrazek and Michal Neuvirth also on the team, folks shouldn't anticipate a string of Pavelec starts.
It's been awhile since Winnipeg Jets fans have had occasion to think of Ivan Telegin. The 24-year-old played 34 games with the St. John's IceCaps back in 2012-13, scoring 10 points along the way. After being suspended for not reporting to the IceCaps and missing the entire 2013-14 season as a result, the 24-year-old is coming off a nine point, 41 game season with CSKA Moskva. While the Winnipeg Jets do still own his rights, Telegin is "in negotiations for another KHL contract." Of note, his presence comes at the cost of either Alexander Radulov or Ilya Kovalchuk, both of whom were left off of Team Russia.
Telegin brings the tally up to seven, but there may be an eighth Winnipeg Jets player present at the tournament: Patrik Laine. MVP of the 2016 IIHF World Championship with 12 points in 10 games, Laine was named alongside another 18-year-old, Carolina Hurricanes prospect Sebastian Aho. Interestingly enough, Team Finland brought Laine and Aho, but not Aho's Kärpät linemate Jesse Puljujärvi. Instead, the braintrust decided to go in a different direction, specifically Erik Haula. There's plenty of room for debate on whether General Manager Jere Lehtinen made the right call here.
Last and possibly least, the Jets will be making a couple of contributions behind the Team Europe bench as well:
Paul Maurice will be an asst. coach for Europe. #NHLJets Head Equipment Manager Jason McMaster will work for Europe as Equipment Manager.— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) May 27, 2016
What say you on those named and omitted? Is there any way the Winnipeg Jets can not pick Laine with the second overall selection? How terrible is the Team USA selection process, and might Team North America give them a run for their money? Share your thoughts, ideas and concerns in the Comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!