Historically, one of the talking points around the World Championships has been around the quality pf players. The tournament clashes with the NHL Stanley Cup Play-Offs/Finals, resulting in some of the NHL Stars not being available for their countries.
This year, that’s not an issue after some surprising Stanley Cup results, meaning most of the top stars are in Slovakia with their countries. In fact, in the Great Britain group both USA and Canada are pretty much full of NHL stars. Even with Canada losing John Tavares on Thursday, due to injury, the rosters are strong.
Team Canada are coming with a strong setup, featuring Matt Murray and Carter Hart between the pipes. Despite losing the Maple Leafs John Tavares the forwards team includes players like Thomas Chabot, Mark Stone, Jonathan Marchessault and Kyle Turris. In last years tournament they suffered from a lack of solid goaltending and it prove costly as they were knocked out by Switzerland in the semifinals. This year they’re looking to erase the painful memories of the last 2 years and claim the Gold. Winning the gold will be anything but a walk in the park considering the opposition they will have to face.
One of Canada’s main threats will be Team Russia, who are playing in the other preliminary group in Bratislava. The Russians have put together probably their strongest team since the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Its been 5 years since Russia won the World Championship and with players like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Evgeni Malkin and Nikita Kucherov on the forward side, its hard to not put them high in the power rankings. This is a team that can score goals from all four lines.
Sweden is the reigning champions, having won the tournament in 2017 and 2018 and they won’t be giving up the crown without a fight. The Tre Kronor will want to live up to their name and win it 3 consecutive times. This will have to happen on the back of Henrik Lundqvist and young NHL stars like William Nylander and Elias Pettersson.
The USA haven’t won a World Championship since 1960, a fact that surprises most supporters. This years they have a young team that includes young NHL stars like Johnny Gaudreau and Jack Eichel. The biggest talking point of the US Team is Jack Hughes. Hughes is expected to be claimed by the New Jersey Devils as the #1 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft at the end of May, and at just 17 looks to be a star in the making.
USA are captained by Patrick Kane, who was the top scorer in last years tournament.