Tomorrow every team in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will announce the first 16 players on their rosters. We all know the superstars of the game will be the first ones announced. However, what I’m going to talk about here is which members of the Toronto Maple Leafs will be participating in the event. They might not be announced as part of the initial announcement, but they could be announced when the rest of the 23-man rosters are announced on June 1.
The teams participating in the World Cup are Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Czech Republic, Team (rest of) Europe and Team North America (23 and under players). So let’s take a look at each team and which Leafs could play for them.
Canada will be the favorite going into the event, having won the last two Olympic Gold Medals. Just don’t think that any Leafs will be wearing the other Maple Leaf. That is, unless the Leafs actually do manage to sign Steven Stamkos in the offseason.
The Leafs have at least two player that are almost a sure thing. The first player is James van Riemsdyk. JVR has represented his country on seven occasions. However, he has not won a medal with the US since the 2007 Under-18 World Championships. The other Leaf that might be on the team is Jake Gardiner. However, there might be just enough defensemen better than him to keep him off the team.
The Maple Leafs don’t have anyone on their roster that was born in Sweden. However, William Nylander plays for Sweden in international competition although he was born in Calgary. Could his talent be enough for him to make the team as 19-year old?
Leo Komarov is one of two Leafs that are the closest to a sure thing when it comes to making a team. He has represented Finland eight times, but this would be the first time he would represent his country while a member of the Maple Leafs. That is, unless he plays in the World Championships a couple of months beforehand. Finland’s latest World Junior hero Kasperi Kapanen could also be considered for a spot.
The Leafs only have one Russian on their current roster in recently recalled Nikita Soshnikov. He won’t be making the roster.
Team Czech Republic
The recently acquired Milan Michalek could be represent his country for the eleventh time if he is named to the team. He is the only player the Leafs have from the Czech Republic after the Leafs traded Roman Polak.
The only two players on the Leafs roster that are eligible to play on Team Europe are Slovakian Martin Marincin and Austrian Michael Grabner. Marincin has no chance while Grabner has an outside chance of making it.
Team North America
On the roster, the Leafs only have defensemen and one goalie eligible for the team. Connor Carrick, Frank Corrado, Stuart Percy, Morgan Rielly and Garret Sparks. Rielly has a pretty good chance of making the team. Their could be a wild card though. Could Mitch Marner be added to the team? He has been one of the best players in the OHL this season and will probably make the Leafs next season because of the rules saying he can’t play in the AHL next season. He certainly has the talent.
So there you have it. The Leafs should at least have three players at the World Cup. However it could be more. We’ll find out if any of them get announced tomorrow.