It’s that time of year where those that aren’t in the NHL Playoffs are given the chance to represent their countries in the IIHF World Championship. While they’d likely rather be playing in the playoffs, the World Championship is still a great honour to be participating in for many NHL players.
The Ottawa Senators finished at the bottom of the league this season, but they have a tremendous amount of young, skilled players in their organization. A number of those players will be participating in the tournament May 10-26. To keep cheering on your Senators, here’s who you can watch as they represent their countries.
Thomas Chabot is no stranger to Team Canada. In fact, this will be the defender’s fifth straight year wearing the red and white, in as many years. He’s headlining a roster of all-stars this time around. His first experience came back in 2014-15 with the U18s, where he helped Canada to a bronze medal with a goal and four assists in five games.
For the next two seasons, Chabot played for the U20s, the second stint included an “A” on his sweater. The first time with the team didn’t go as planned, as the team lost to Finland in the quarterfinals. He had three assists through five games.
In 2016-17 though, Chabot was on a mission, helping the team win a silver medal with four goals and six assists in seven games. The Ste-Marie, Quebec native had the most goals, assists and points by a defenseman and was named to the tournament’s First All-Star team, Best Defender and MVP.
His first shot with the men’s team came in 2017-18, where the team fell in the semifinals to Switzerland and Chabot was held to just one point in six games. Just like he did with the U20s, expect Chabot to have a big impact in this tournament as one of the top defenders on the team. His excellent 55-point season should carry over into the Championship.
Contract Roadblock: Cody Ceci
Defender Cody Ceci had reportedly spoken to Canadian officials in April, but his lack of a contract will look to hold him back from the tournament. The restricted free agent is coming off a one-year, $4.3 million deal that was awarded in arbitration last offseason. (From: “SNAPSHOTS: Some Ottawa Senators have a chance to take on the world” – Ottawa Citizen – Apr. 8, 2019).
Ceci tied his career high in points this season with 26 while setting a new high in assists (19). The defenseman was a part of the 2016 roster that won a gold medal, with Ceci getting a goal and five assists in 10 games.
Mikkel Boedker is Denmark hockey. The 2019 World Championship is his 13th time representing his home country. He’s played in all but four years since 2004-05, first playing in the U18s, where he collected two points in six games as a 16-year-old.
He came back the next year and played for both the U18s and U20s at 17, winning a silver medal in both. Between the two tournaments, Boedker had three goals and five assists through 10 games. But Boedker was just getting started.
In his final eligible year for the U18s, Boedker put up four goals and seven assists in five games, winning a D1B gold medal and was named Best Forward and MVP of the tournament. With the U20s, he had just one goal but won a D1A gold medal.
Boedker has continued to represent Denmark on the men’s team, including the World Championship where he’s played in 30 games, collecting eight goals and 11 assists. He’ll be a leader for the Danes and relied upon to provide offence.
He may just be 22 years old, but Rudolfs Balcers has seen his fair share of international hockey. This will be his sixth straight year representing his country, dating back to playing with the U17s and U18s in 2013-14 where he won a D1A gold medal with the U18s.
He added a U20 D1A bronze medal in 2014-15 and a D1A gold medal in 2015-16. Last year was his first outing with the men’s team, where he put up four goals and two assists in eight games.
This season he had 17 goals and 31 points with the Belleville Senators and added five goals and 14 points in the NHL. He’ll be looking to continue his stellar year at the international level.
Just like Balcers, Jaros is entering his sixth straight year representing his home country at the international level, starting at the U17 level. While Jaros isn’t a very offensive defenseman, he is a solid shut down guy. He was even entrusted with the “C” for the U20s in 2015-16.
He’s been honoured as a three-time Top 3 Player on Team and won a bronze medal in 2014-15. Jaros proved himself this season with the Senators, playing in 61 games, scoring a goal and adding nine assists.
He looks to be a fixture on the back end of the rebuild for the Senators and will be a big part of Slovakia’s as well. This tournament will be especially exciting for Jaros as he gets the chance to compete in front of his home country.
The Senators are filled with young talent and they may be best stocked in American-born players, as they have two players on the American roster. The first named to the team was Colin White as a part of the initial announcement.
This will be White’s sixth straight year representing the USA and second with the men’s group. In his first outing with Team USA as a U17, White made himself known with a huge 10-goal, eight-assist and 18-point performance in six games. He led the tournament in goals, assists and points, and won a gold medal.
With the U18s the next year, he was given the “A” and helped lead the team to a gold medal yet again with six goals and nine points in seven games. Moving up to the U20s, White was the alternate captain both years, collecting 15 points in 14 games over the two tournaments, adding a bronze and another gold medal to his cupboard.
In 2017-18, White played in his first World Championship, winning a bronze medal. As a depth player, he collected three points in 10 games. This time around, expect White to have a bigger role with the Americans after coming off a 14-goal, 41-point rookie season in the NHL.
After the initial roster announcement, Team USA added three more to its lineup, including Christian Wolanin. Other than the World Junior A Challenge in 2014-15, this is Wolanin’s first time representing his country.
Wolanin’s place on Team USA comes 25 years after his father, Craig, captained the team in the same tournament to a fourth-place finish. He actually played in three World Championships over the course of his career.
He’s coming off of a season splitting time between Belleville and Ottawa, getting four goals and 12 points in 30 games in the NHL. He collected seven goals and 31 points in 40 AHL games as well and played in the AHL All-Star game.
Roster Snub: Brady Tkachuk
A glaring omission on the Team USA is Brady Tkachuk. It looked like he was going to be a part of the team after it was reported that he spoke with Team USA. (From: “SNAPSHOTS: Some Ottawa Senators have a chance to take on the world” – Ottawa Citizen – Apr. 8, 2019).
“I had a good talk with them, but I still have to talk to my agent and I still have to do my individual meeting (with Dorion). We’ll see how it goes.”
Tkachuk is coming off a great rookie season that saw him collect 22 goals and 45 assists in 71 games. Tkachuk has played on Team USA for the last three years with the U17s, U18s and U20s. He was the captain of the U18s, winning a gold medal, and has been a point-per-game or better in each. He also collected a bronze medal with the U20s.
Senators Will Battle Each Other Often
Senators fans that tune in to the World Championship to see their players battle for gold will have plenty of opportunities, with Chabot, Boedker, Jaros, White and Wolanin all in the same group (A). Balcers is the lone Senator in Group B. Here are the round robin games where Senators will face-off against each other:
Statistics from EliteProspects.com.
Starting out as an Ottawa Senators contributor for The Hockey Writers, Josh is now an editor and at-large contributor, focusing on prospects, the NHL Draft, hockey history, and breaking news stories.