Wild Accusations: 2016 World Cup Of Hockey Predictions

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On March 2nd, the eight teams of the 2016 World Cup announced their initial 16-man rosters, which means we now know, at least partially, who will be suiting up for Canada, the Czech Republic, Team Europe, Finland, Team North America, Russia, Sweden and , the USA this September.

If you’re not familiar with the format, the teams representing the countries are pretty self-explanatory; Canadians will play for Canada, etc. But for Team Europe and Team North America, the set-up is a little different.

Team Europe will be composed of all the best players whose country is not already represented. So you get Anze Kopitar from Slovenia and Zdeno Chara from Slovakia—along with others—all forming a team.  Why? Because if Slovenia itself put a team in the World Cup, it would get crushed. So the organizers decided that instead of sending sacrificial lambs to slaughter, they’d make an All-Star team from all the countries that can’t supply a decent enough roster on their own.

Team North America will consist of the best under-23-years-of-age players on the continent. Why? Basically because Canada has so many good players, the U-23s would be left of, and the organizers want to make money off of Connor McDavid. And don’t kid yourself, it is totally because of the talent pool in Canada. If there was no Team North America, the US kids would be on the US team. In fact, I think the people who should be most ticked off is the group managing Team USA, because their roster is significantly hindered by not having the U-23 Americans on the team.

Anyways, without getting into how dumb a concept those two teams are (Team Europe is not as bad a thought as Team U-23, but it’s still silly), let’s take a look at the rosters and see if we can make any early predictions about September’s tournament.

 

TEAM CANADA

Forwards

Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
John Tavares, New York Islanders
Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Defensemen

Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings
Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose Sharks
Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks
Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens
Braden Holtby, Washington Capitals

 

TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC

Forwards

F Michael Frolik, Calgary Flames
F Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes
F Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks
F David Krejci, Boston Bruins
F Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
F David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins
F Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens
F Vladimir Sobotka, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
F Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers

Defensemen

D Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers
D Michal Kempny, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
D Roman Polak, San Jose Sharks
D Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning

Goaltenders

G Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings
G Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers
G Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets

 

TEAM EUROPE

Forwards

F Mikkel Boedker, Colorado Avalanche (Denmark)
F Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (Germany)
F Jannik Hansen, Vancouver Canucks (Denmark)
F Marian Hossa, Chicago Blackhawks (Slovakia)
F Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings (Slovenia)
F Frans Nielsen, New York Islanders (Denmark)
F Tomas Tatar, Detroit Red Wings (Slovakia)
F Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild (Austria)
F Mats Zuccarello, New York Rangers (Norway)

Defensemen

D Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins (Slovakia)
D Roman Josi, Nashville Predators (Switzerland)
D Dennis Seidenberg, Boston Bruins (Germany)
D Andrej Sekera, Edmonton Oilers (Slovakia)
D Mark Streit, Philadelphia Flyers (Switzerland)

Goaltenders

G Frederik Andersen, Anaheim Ducks (Denmark)
G Jaroslav Halak, New York Islanders (Slovakia)

 

TEAM FINLAND

Forwards

Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
Joonas Donskoi, San Jose Sharks
Valtteri Filppula, Tampa Bay Lightning
Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild
Jussi Jokinen, Florida Panthers
Mikko Koivu, Minnesota Wild
Leo Komarov, Toronto Maple Leafs
Lauri Korpikoski, Edmonton Oilers
Jori Lehtera, St. Louis Blues
Teuvo Teravainen, Chicago Blackhawks

Defensemen

Esa Lindell, Texas Stars (AHL) – Dallas Stars hold NHL rights
Olli Maatta, Pittsburgh Penguins
Rasmus Ristolainen, Buffalo Sabres
Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks

Goalies

Tuukka Rask, Boston Bruins
Pekka Rinne, Nashville Predators

 

TEAM NORTH AMERICA

Forwards

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
Jack Eichel, Buffalo Sabres
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
Dylan Larkin, Detroit Red Wings
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
Sean Monahan, Calgary Flames
J.T. Miller, New York Rangers
Brandon Saad, Columbus Blue Jackets
Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers

Defensemen

Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers
Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs
Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets
Ryan Murray, Columbus Blue Jackets

Goaltenders

John Gibson, Anaheim Ducks
Connor Hellebuyck, Manitoba Moose (AHL)
Matt Murray, Pittsburgh Penguins

 

TEAM SWEDEN

Forwards

F Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals
F Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins
F Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators
F Gabriel Landeskog, Colorado Avalanche
F Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
F Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks
F Alexander Steen, St. Louis Blues
F Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

Defensemen

D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Arizona Coyotes
D Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay Lightning
D Niklas Hjalmarsson, Chicago Blackhawks
D Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators
D Niklas Kronwall, Detroit Red Wings
D Anton Stralman, Tampa Bay Lightning

Goaltenders

G Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers
G Jacob Markstrom, Vancouver Canucks

 

TEAM USA

Forwards

Kane, Chicago Blackhawks
Max Pacioretty, Montreal Canadiens
Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
Zach Parise, Minnesota Wild
Blake Wheeler, Winnipeg Jets
T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals
Derek Stepan, New York Rangers
Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
Justin Abdelkader, Detroit Red Wings

Defensemen

Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets
Ryan McDonagh, New York Rangers
John Carlson, Washington Capitals

Goaltenders

Ben Bishop, Tampa Bay Lightning
Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings
Cory Schneider, New Jersey Devils

Prediction #1: Team USA is going to be pissed

Like I said earlier, a couple American forwards on the North American team would easily be on team USA if the rules allowed, and I think they’d be important members of the team. Already, Gaudreau is better than Pacioretty, Stepan and Abdelkader, probably better than Wheeler, and closing in on Oshie; and Larkin and Eichel are better than Abdelkader and Stepan, and I’d take them over Wheeler, though Wheeler has NHL strength over them.

Saad and Miller wouldn’t make Team USA, I don’t think, but if this was an Olympic year and they were named to the squad, I wouldn’t be shocked.

No doubt Dean Lombardi and Paul Holmgren are fuming at the fact they these kids aren’t even an option for them. USA has a much bigger gripe than Canada over not being allowed to have these kids on the team.

Prediction #2: Team North America is going to get pumped

Ok, so maybe a bit of a contradiction to say that the USA would love to have some of the U-23s on their team, and then say that those U-23s are going to get pumped in the tournament, but looking at their roster, overall, there’s just not enough depth compared to the other squads.

Yes, North America has a lot of exciting, young talent. And yes, a lot of these players, if not all of them, will someday represent their countries, but right now, how are you going to put those four defensemen up against the D of the other teams and say they’ll come out on top? I think NA will hold up against the Czechs and the Fins, but I don’t see them skating with the other teams. They’ll be exciting, but a lot of times exciting hockey ends up being losing hockey.

Prediction #3: Canada vs Sweden

As far as I’m concerned, this tournament is a two team race and it will take a drastic screw up when naming the rest of the rosters to make me think otherwise. If Canada pulls another Rob Zamuner than I might take them out of the running—seriously, Canada took Rob Zamuner over Mark Messier in 1998. What the F, Canada? And then you sit Gretzky in the shootout!? WHAT THE F, CANDADA?!

Anyways, if you look at the 16 guys on each of those rosters, top to bottom they’re just stronger than everyone else. Every single players is, if not a superstar, a solid, solid, hockey player. Yeah the Americans are throwing Pat Kane over the boards, which is awesome, but they’re also coming at you with Justin Abdelkader. I mean, Abdelkader has 33 points this season, and 165 points in 462 games over his NHL career.  The closest Forward to Abdelkader on Team Canada in terms of games played is Tyler Seguin at 420 games., but he’s tallied 350 points, including 68 this year.

And, their D-cores. Wow. That’s all I have to say. Just, wow.

Since everyone in these tournaments—World Cups, Olympics—are the best of the best, the tournament is usually decided by the worst player on the roster. So yes, technically, those players have yet to be named; however, looking at the initial rosters, the worst players on Sweden and Canada could be the best players on the other teams, so that’s why you have to give them the best odds at being in the finals.

Prediction #4: Connor McDavid will lead the tournament in scoring

Because why not? Noth America is not going to win a lot of games, but they’re going to score a lot of goals, and someone has got to do the scoring, so to-hell-with-it, I’m predicting McJesus will get the job done. I mean, the kid is a freak; why not have a tourney, Connor? Show Team Canada what they’re missing.

What do you think?