In an attempt to learn more about the players taking part in the 2015 World Hockey Championships, as well as educating others about those participating in it, I set off to write as many team previews as I possibly could in a short period of time.
However, thanks to a late trip in April, as well as the fact that many of the rosters weren’t announced to their current extent until the last possible minute, trying to do all 16 teams proved to be tough. So, instead, I decided to look at a few players I like on the teams I didn’t finish (including Sweden, who always competes for a medal) and share some stuff about each one of them.
For full coverage of the World Championships all tournament long, click here.
1. Filip Forsberg, F: A week after getting snubbed from the Calder Trophy finalist list, Forsberg is a very intriguing forward that could end up being one of the biggest offensive threats in the tournament. A late addition to the team due to the Nashville Predators playoff run, Forsberg posted 26 goals and 63 points in 82 games for Nashville during the regular season, his first since getting drafted by the Washington Capitals a few seasons back. This will be his first real attempt at playing with the men’s national team, but if his World Junior success is any indication (12 points at the 2014 WJC), he’ll be a star for the long run.
2. Loui Eriksson F: While he may be better known for being involved in the lopsided trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas, Eriksson is actually a solid contributor at the international level. A two time medalist at this tournament, Eriksson was one of the better players at the 2013 event, helping the Swedes win gold thanks to a 10 point performance. Eriksson is a good skater that knows how to excel on the bigger ice, so his transition won’t take long. He’ll be good, and hopefully, he’ll be able to use the tournament to help further is NHL career.
3. Oscar Moller, F: Moller may be forgotten after his NHL career fell flat with the LA Kings, but he’s still a serviceable forward for the Tre Kronor. A hard worker with tremendous speed, Moller finished the KHL playoffs with AK Bars Kazan with the most game winning goals, totaling six in 20 games. Moller doesn’t have much of a World Championship resume so far, but after a nine point performance last year, as well as a solid effort at the Euro Hockey Tour this year, he’s becoming more of a force to watch out for. Expect him to see ice time with Joakim Lindstrom and Jimmie Ericsson in the top six this year, creating an under-the-radar scoring line for the potential medalists.
1. Marian Gaborik, F: Gaborik’s best days are surely behind him, but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t have a lot left to offer. His health is always a question mark, but when he’s good to go, he’s easily one of the best players on the ice every single night. A two time bronze medalist in international competition, Gaborik has over 40 points in men’s tournaments and his explosive speed makes him a lethal threat every shift.
2. Jan Laco, G: When the World Championships begin each year, you can almost always count on Jan Laco putting on an incredible performance. In fact, he’s a good bet every year to be named the top goaltender at the event. The first time the Slovak netminder grabbed the award, Laco finished the 2012 tournament with a .924 save percentage to help the Slovaks win a silver medal, his only medal with the men’s national team to date. Of course, that means the pressure would be on big time the next year, right? Oh, don’t worry, he followed that up with another top goaltender award. For a goalie that has never suited up for a North American team in his career, Laco has built up quite the international resume and should be no pushover when the tournament heads to the Czech Republic.
3. Martin Reway, F: The Slovaks are going to be very weak down the middle, that’s no secret. However, the team is hoping a young guy like Montreal prospect Martin Reway can make an impact in his second World Championship appearance. One of the top players at the recent World Junior tournament in Canada, Reway finished with nine points as the Slovaks surprised the Swedes with a bronze medal victory, their first in many years. Reway is no slouch, as his 39 points in the men’s Czech League was good enough to finish third in scoring on HC Sparta Praha this year. Is a move to the NHL or AHL coming soon? Could happen if he shines in May.
1. Tobias Rieder, F: In what turned out to be a fairly one-sided deal, the Arizona Coyotes acquired Rieder from the Edmonton Oilers in return for minor league forward Kale Kessy back in 2013. Rieder eventually found himself into the NHL this season with Arizona, putting up 21 points in 72 games as a bottom six forward. Germany doesn’t have that strong of a roster this year, so expect to see him improve from his one goal performance at last year’s tournament.
2. Dennis Endras, G: Endras is such an underrated goaltender at this tournament, but with Germany on the brink of elimination every year, there is a good reason why. Endras is no stranger to success at the international level, and at 29-years-old, there is still a lot of him to be seen. At the 2010 World Championships, which happened to be held in Germany, Endras was named the tournament’s MVP after taking the Germans to a surprising fourth place finish. He’s already won the Deutschland Cup this year, will he be able to help improve Germany’s position at the Worlds?
3. Thomas Oppenheimer, F: Oppenheimer was one of Germany’s best players at last year’s World Championships, and this year, the results wont likely be much different. Oppenheimer had six points in seven World Championship games, beating out Kai Hospelt and Leon Draisaitl for the top scorer on the roster. This season, he’s seen action in 11 international contests for Germany, which included a three game stint with the Deutschland Cup championship team back in late 2014.
1. Oliver Lauridsen, D: Lauridsen brings some North American experience to a Danish team that will be without many of it’s top players this year. A big, 6’6 defenseman in the Philadelphia Flyers system, Lauridsen recorded 10 PIM in his only NHL game to date, to go along with his 499 in the AHL since 2010-2011. He’s a solid defenseman that refuses to give up on any play, but his knack for taking penalties could hurt. Regardless, he’s one of Denmark’s best players and if he can stay out of the box, he’ll be worth watching for the next few weeks.
2. Kim Staal, F: No, he’s not apart of the Staal family, but he’s a good player in his own region. Originally a draft pick by the Montreal Canadiens back in 1996, the veteran has seen his professional hockey career take him all over the world, including the States, Sweden and most recently, Japan with the Tohoku Free Flades of the Asian league. Staal has well over 50 points in international competition, and with this being his 18th World Championship appearance, he’ll be one of the most experienced players in the entire tournament.
3. Jesper Jensen, F: In a rare circumstance in the top division, the Danes will run with two Jesper Jensen’s at the 2015 World Championships once again. In this case, we’re talking about the one that doesn’t go by Jesper B. Jensen and currently plays for Rögle in Sweden. He hasn’t typically been that great on the international stage, but this year, that all changed. In 12 contests for Denmark in various games throughout the year, Jensen posted 10 points to follow up his four point performance at the Worlds last year.
1. Kaspars Daugavins, F: Daugavins’ NHL career may be best remembered for a failed shootout attempt, but he’s got the skill level to put up some points on the world stage. A member of the 2013 Spengler Cup All-Star team following a championship performance with Geneve-Servette, Daugavins finished off the year as the most penalized player at the World Championships thanks to 42 minutes in the box. Still, now that he’s considered to be one of the best from the country, his role as a first liner should help result in a near point-per-game result out of the former Ottawa Senators prospect.
2. Miks Indrasis, F: A similar player to Daugavins (minus the PIM’s), Indrasis is a talented player that has quietly caught the eye of some NHL scouts. Just 24 years of age, Indrasis posted five points in seven games at the 2013 tournament, leading the low-scoring Latvians in scoring. Indrasis has proven to be a consistent forward with the Dinamo Riga KHL team over the past few years, and he seems to always be finding himself playing in over 20 international contests a year. Can he regain his spot as Latvia’s top scorer again?
3. Miķelis Rēdlihs, F: Rēdlihs isn’t going to compete for the tournament scoring title, but he does bring some solid offensive charateristics that will be missed by Zemgus Girgensons sitting out. Rēdlihs was the top scorer on Latvia’s World Championship effort, posting six points in seven games to barely nudge out Daugavins and defenseman Arturs Kulda. Rēdlihs already has four assists in six international games with Latvia this year, so look for him to continue on his strong effort.
1. Kevin Lalande, G: If you don’t know Lalande’s story, seeing his name on Belarus’ roster may seem kind of surprising. A Canadian born puckstopper, Lalande became a citizen of Belarus back in January 2013 after spending time with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL. Lalande, a former draft pick of the Calgary Flames, never actually did get a chance to make the NHL, but did play for the Quad City Flames and Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League. Last season, during his first international experience for the Belorussian squad, Lalande proved to be one of the best goaltenders in the league as his .938 SP helped propel the team to the quarter-finals for the first time since 2009. Hopefully, his KHL best GAA of 1.39 will help him in the Czech Republic this year, as a big performance out of Lalande could assist Belarus into another surprising 1/8 finish.
2. Sergei Kostitsyn, F: Whether you liked him in the NHL or not, Sergei Kostitsyn is a talented hockey player. In 15 career WC contests, Kostitsyn has 11 points to his name, including an eight point performance a year ago that put him tied for first in team scoring with Mikhail Grabovski. A multi-time KHL All-Star, Kostitsyn had five points in four games for Belarus at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver in their most recent appearance in the prestigious event.
3. Andrei Kostitsyn, F: A former teammate of Sergei’s in both Montreal and Nashville, Andrei’s NHL career got off to a lightning quick start, scoring 53 points in 78 games during his first full season in the league back in 2007-2008. After a slow start with the KHL’s Traktor Chelyabinsk this year, that saw him post just four points in 13 games, Kostitsyn’s year really lifted off thanks to getting 31 points in 37 games with HK Sochi to finish off the year. With a strong effort in the KHL, matched with six points in seven international games for Belarus this year, watch for Kostitsyn to battle for first in scoring on Belarus this year.
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