Last week the NHL and NHLPA announced that they had agreed to not move forward with another World Cup of Hockey in 2020. They instead will pursue a different international event at some point in the future.
The 2016 World Cup was an interesting tournament, with the inclusion of Team North America and Team Europe to fold, but it came off as a bit of a gimmick too. Without the NHL at the Olympics, no World Cup, and the IIHF World Championship taking place during the Stanley Cup playoffs, there isn’t really any best-on-best hockey going on right now which is really disappointing.
Had the tournament taken in place in 2020, there’s no doubt that a number of Calgary Flames would’ve had a shot at making their respective national teams. Let’s also assume that the NHL chose to go with Team Europe and Team North America again.
Sean Monahan (Hopefully), Mark Giordano (Probably)
Monahan is an interesting case in that he’s routinely overlooked by NHL media, and doesn’t get the attention he deserves because of the fact he plays with Johnny Gaudreau. Monahan is currently fourth among Canadian forwards in points in 2018-19, and you’d have to figure that he’d only get better with another year under his belt. Monahan may not have the flash of a lot of other star players, but he would’ve at least deserved to be in the conversation for Team Canada and should still be whenever the next major tournament takes place.
It seems ridiculous that Mark Giordano has only had the chance to play for Canada once in his career, which occurred at the 2010 World Championships. The NHL both not going to the Olympics and pushing this tournament back really hurts Giordano as it may have been his last chance to play for Canada. He would’ve been almost 37 by the time this tournament began but assuming he was still playing close to this year’s level, he would’ve been a lock.
Johnny Gaudreau (Lock)
No justification required. You could argue that he’s the face of American hockey right now, leading all American born players in scoring. He also on pace to have the highest points per game in a season for an American since Pat Lafontaine in 1992-93.
Team Czech Republic
Michael Frolik (Lock), David Rittich (Lock)
Frolik has suited up for the Czech Republic at almost every major tournament, including the last World Cup of Hockey and 2014 Olympics. As long he’s still playing in the NHL, Frolik would be there.
Big Save Dave makes it simply because there are only three Czech goaltenders currently playing in the NHL along with Petr Mrazek and Michal Neuvirth. He’s never played internationally for the Czechs, so the World Cup would’ve been a huge deal for him.
Juuso Valimaki (Unlikely)
It’s probably stretching it that Valimaki would’ve made Finland as early as 2020, but he could very well have been at least in the conversation. The Finns have a ridiculously young group of highly skilled defensemen in the NHL, with the oldest Finnish defender being Sami Vatanen at 28. Perhaps he finds his way onto the roster on the bottom pairing or as a 7th defenceman.
Mikael Backlund (Lock), Elias Lindholm (Lock)
Backlund most recently captained Sweden to gold at the 2018 World Championships and did suit up for a pair of games at the 2016 World Cup before suffering a concussion. Including U18 and World Juniors, Backlund has suited up for Tre Kronor at ten different international tournaments.
Lindholm currently leads all Swedes in scoring this season and would definitely make his World Cup debut whenever the next tournament takes place.
Team North America
Matthew Tkachuk (Lock), Noah Hanifin (Lock)
If the NHL chose to bring back this gimmicky yet absurdly fun team again, Matthew Tkachuk would be one of the first players added to the roster. Watching him play his game at an international tournament would be great time.
Hanifin makes it onto the North American roster as the most experienced defenseman and perhaps most experienced player on the team. At the time the tournament would’ve taken place, Hanifin would’ve had roughly 375-400 NHL games under his belt.
So there you have, potentially ten Calgary Flames players could’ve suited up for their respective nations at the 2020 World Cup of Hockey had it taken place. While I understand the apprehension for the tournament and the gimmicks of it, both the sport of hockey and its fans deserve some sort of opportunity to see best-on-best hockey again.
Did you like the last World Cup of Hockey?
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