Abdelkader in, Kessel out for now, for US in World Cup
Mar. 02, 2016
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the World Cup of Hockey roster announcements (all times local):
Patrick Kane, Ryan Suter and Jonathan Quick were among the first 16 players selected to Team USA's World Cup of Hockey roster as expected.
Justin Abdelkader, though, was considered a bit of a surprise.
USA Hockey raised some eyebrows Wednesday night by putting Abdelkader, a physical forward for the Detroit Red Wings, on its initial roster. It left off players such as Phil Kessel, a high-scoring forward with Olympic experience, but can add him and others when the 23-man roster is finalized.
The Americans have a trio of strong goaltenders: Ben Bishop, Jonathan Quick and Cory Schneider.
Team Canada plans to include Carey Price in its quest to win a third straight best-on-best hockey tournament.
The goaltender, who helped his country win Olympic gold two years ago, was included on the Canadians' 16-man roster revealed Wednesday for the World Cup of Hockey even though he hasn't been in a game for two-plus months. Price hasn't played for the Montreal Canadiens since Nov. 25 because of a lower body injury.
If Price isn't healthy enough to play, Canada will be in good shape in net with Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals and Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks on the team. Roberto Luongo did not make the cut after being on the Canadians' roster at the past three Olympics.
Team Canada chose just four defensemen, allowing competition to play out on the blue line for some of the final roster spots for the 23-man team.
Sidney Crosby, of course, is on the team along with high-scoring forwards such as Steven Stamkos, Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin.
Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel don't know each other yet. That'll change in a few months.
McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers and Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres are set to be teammates on the 23-and-under Team North America as two of the 16 players selected to the initial roster. McDavid, Eichel and others such as Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings and Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers were no-brainers, but a few choices stood out.
J.T. Miller of the New York Rangers was a bit of a surprise choice at forward, especially ahead of the Montreal Canadiens' Alex Galchenyuk and Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
It only took a few minutes after Team Europe's roster was revealed for the second-guessing to begin. Seven countries — Slovakia, Denmark, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia and Norway — are represented on the initial 16-man roster, but a few more could be coming.
Latvian Zemgus Girgensons of the Buffalo Sabres and Belarussian Mikhail Grabovski of the New York Islanders were left off the first 16. So was Danish forward Nikolaj Ehlers of the Winnipeg Jets. General manager Miroslav Satan has until June 1 to fill out his roster.
Six months before the World Cup of Hockey returns after a 12-year hiatus, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly and NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr confirmed there will be another one in 2020.
"There's no doubt about that," Fehr said. "The plan was to establish an ongoing event, establish the brand, establish the identity and go forward with it."
Fehr said the league and players will do an extensive debrief after the 2016 World Cup and planned to make some conclusions in October and beyond. Daly said future tournaments aren't locked in to having all games in one city such as Toronto, and other factors can be tweaked for 2020.
"We'll learn a lot from this tournament," Daly said. "Longer term we have a vision for what this tournament looks like and how we select teams and how that goes about."
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hopes hockey fans are just as excited to see the 16-man World Cup of Hockey rosters as he was.
Bettman said after an event at the U.S. Capitol that his reaction to the rosters released Wednesday was "whoa." Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic and Sweden have released their first 16, while the 23-and-under Team North America, Team Europe, Canada and the United States are set to announce theirs later in the day.
Even though the World Cup doesn't start until Sept. 17, Bettman said the rosters make the event more concrete. Teams don't have to name full rosters until June 1, but this was a substantial start toward building anticipation for the World Cup.
"It now takes a concept and makes it real,' Bettman said. "It gives people something to focus on that's very exciting when you start comparing the rosters."