5 St. Louis Blues Set for IIHF World Championship

The St. Louis Blues will have five players participating in and representing their countries for the 2023 IIHF World Championship tournament starting Friday, May 12. According to the IIHF website, Team Finland currently holds the number one spot in the power rankings, followed by Team Canada at number two, and the United States at number four.

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The following players will compete for their countries at the tournament.

Sammy Blais – Team Canada

Drafted by the Blues in 2014, the 26-year-old forward was re-acquired by St. Louis last season in the trade that sent Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers. Sammy Blais flourished after the trade, posting career-highs in goals (nine), assists (11), and points (20) across just 31 games.

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Blais will make his first career appearance for Team Canada at the World Championship. If he can continue his scoring ways he could be viewed as one of Team Canada’s most well-rounded and underrated players. To date, he has scored 26 goals and 64 points over 204 regular season games. He averaged 14:36 of time on ice in St. Louis and finished the season with a 2.1 point share rating.

Joel Hofer – Team Canada

Selected 107th overall by the Blues in the 2018 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old goaltender will look to find success once more on the international stage for Team Canada. In his last appearance for the team at the 2020 World Junior Championship, he led all goaltenders in goals-against average (1.60) and save percentage (.939) before being given the tournament’s Best Goaltender Award and a gold medal for his country.

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Last season, Hofer made six starts with the Blues, while earning an American Hockey League All-Star Game appearance representing the Springfield Thunderbirds. In the NHL, he went 3-1-1 along with a .905 save percentage and a 3.22 goals-against average. He is set to join the Blues on a full-time basis next season after signing a two-year, $1.55 million contract extension.

Kasperi Kapanen – Team Finland

Kasperi Kapanen is no stranger to the international stage and has had a great deal of experience and success for Team Finland, most notably scoring the gold medal-winning goal at the 2016 World Junior Championship. He also added three goals in eight games at the 2018 World Championship.

Kasperi Kapanen St. Louis Blues
Kasperi Kapanen, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

After being claimed off of waivers midway through the season, the 26-year-old forward posted eight goals and six assists for 14 points in 23 games with the Blues.

Jake Neighbours – Team Canada

One of the most recent first-round draft choices by the Blues, Jake Neighbours was drafted 26th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft. This past season, the 21-year-old forward recorded six goals and four assists in a career-high 43 NHL games.

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Before this selection, Neighbours had been chosen to represent Team Canada three times in his career, including the World U17 Hockey Challenge in 2018-19 and the 2022 World Junior Championship.

Scott Perunovich – Team USA

Another familiar face on the international stage, Scott Perunovich last represented Team USA in 2018, recording three points in seven games at the World Junior Championship. This will mark the third time in his career that Perunovich skates for Team USA, also having experience in the U18 National Team Development Program.

Scott Perunovich St. Louis Blues
Scott Perunovich, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Rick Ulreich/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The 24-year-old defenseman was picked by the Blues in the 2018 Draft, playing 19 NHL games last year before an upper-body injury disrupted his 2022-23 campaign. Once healthy, he recorded 20 points in 22 games for the Thunderbirds.

For those who are unfamiliar with the format of the tournament, each team will play seven group stage games before the top four from each of the two groups are selected for the elimination stage and medal rounds. The tournament will begin with Team USA versus Finland on Friday at 8:20 AM CST. Team Canada will begin shortly after with a 12:20 PM CST matchup against Latvia.