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The World Cup Expendables

The World Cup of Hockey rosters were announced last Friday, and there was a few notable NHL exceptions and surprises. As the Winnipeg Jets are concerned, this could be a good omen.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Last Friday, the teams of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey were officially announced.  Finland, Russia, Sweden, Canada, The United States, and Under 23 Super Squad, the Czechs, and the European Collective all named their rosters for the upcoming NHL money making machine/ tournament in Toronto this coming September.  Mostly made of up of NHL players, the rosters also have some other notables;  a few high end AHL players, a couple prospects/ newly minted draftees, and a few free agent and unsigned KHL maybe departees.

Toronto will be abuzz with NHL execs, scouts and press, and everyone will have a wonderful time debating this and reporting that.  Contracts maybe offered to those without one, and the old could become new again as some NHL castaways and discards maybe seen in new light, depending upon how they play, of course.

The Winnipeg Jets have one such piece of property that may fit that bill in Ivan Telegin, as his play at the recently finished World Championships gave rise to his recent popularity, and brings him back from the brink of obscurity.  A recent KHL player, Telegin was a pleasant surprise for the Russian squad, who brought him in to play 4th line grinder, and was awarded with more ice time and greater press, as he put up better numbers than those playing first or second line offensive roles.

Telegin has had a some health concerns.  After gambling on the North American game, a concussion and demotion to St. John's, he "hit the wall" in marathoner's terms. He left for Russia and hasn't looked back, to some extent. Was the World Championships a fluke for Telegin?  Will the World Cup act as Telegin's litmus test, and can he produce again?  Has he broken down the wall?  The IceCaps are now the Moose, and are in the same city as the main club.  Could this make a difference for Telegin?  Players develop at different stages at different times.  I for one, am looking forward to Telegin's September. (Ed. note: Since the writing of this article, it's been reported that Telegin has signed with SKA in the KHL, so the hope of him playing for the Jets or Moose in the forseeable future is all but gone.)

As for the rest of the Winnipeg Jets players whose sticks weren't selected from the pile for the grand shinney game, it's alright. Nikolaj Ehlers wasn't voted on the European team.  Neither was Joel Armia, whose Finnish team had more than enough candidates for the World Championships and World Cup rosters.  Marko Dano would have been a great addition to the European squad, but may have suffered the same shortest straw fate as Ehlers.  Toby Enstrom would have been a great addition to the Swedish team, but he too was left off, mostly out of volume. Ditto Alexander Burmistrov, although his WC play may have hindered his opportunity.

Maybe there's something similar in circumstance.  Enough spotlight time will be shed upon soon to be Jet Patrik Laine, Dustin Byfuglien, Blake Wheeler, and Mark Scheifele.  Both Buff and Wheeler declined the World Championships, and both are notorious late starters, and should be up to fine playing form from this tournament into a NHL season. Despite playing the Worlds, Scheifele is again a 4th line center at the World Cup, but his play will dictate whether he stays there or is moved up the lineup.  Connor Hellebuyck should make the most of his chance, and Ondrej Pavelec too, as both will be gunning for the Jets' net this fall. (Ed. note: I forgot to mention Jacob Trouba and his naming to the U23 team. Let's blame the error on a serious case of the Mondays and lack of coffee, shall we? Trouba will benefit greatly from his play in this tourney, and will be up to form once the season begins too.)

Patrik Laine will be the odd man out...Full season, World Championships, NHL Combine, NHL Draft, Winnipeg Jets Prospect Camp in July, then the World Cup/ First NHL training camp.  He won't have time to breath, let alone think. It'll go by quick for him, and he should revel in the spotlight while it's upon him.

Ray Ferrarro of TSN made a very good comment during his World Championship analysis.  Ray went on to say that player management is critical, especially when you are a slight in stature player like Ehlers.  What I'm getting at is this... a few months away from the grind of a NHL and international playing schedule would do a body good, irregardless of talent or lineup slot.

Ehlers, Dano and the rest of the expendables can turn the negative snub of the World Cup into a positive.  Use the time to rest, heal, and prepare for the onslaught a NHL regular season brings, as training camp will be ramping up the same time the World Cup is in progress. Show those execs that they made a bad choice in not selecting you! But, on the flipside, a bit of time out of the spot light to hone their craft will be good thing, ultimately for the Winnipeg Jets this upcoming season.

Thanks for reading, and your thoughts and comments welcome!