With Canada scoring two unanswered goals in the finals and winning the entire tournament, the World Cup of Hockey is finally over. Much went into the tournament, from wide-spread media coverage to NHL participation, to the ever-looming discussions about whether or not NHL players will participate in the 2018 Olympic Games. The tournament might be finished, but the discussions about the tournament and its ramifications on NHL players, as well as Olympic participation are likely going to continue for the foreseeable future.
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) September 30, 2016
As it stands, players from both Team Canada, and Team Europe, are set to return to their respective NHL clubs for the remainder of the preseason, and the start of the regular season. While teams may have been concerned at times about the well-being of their players due to various circumstances (such as playing away from the team, its medical personnel, etc.) there is no denying the latent function that comes with a tournament of such magnitude. While most players are just starting to find their footing after a long offseason, the members of each World Cup roster — especially Canada and Europe — will be in postseason form before the puck ever even drops in a regular season game.
It’s hard to argue that the players involved will be better-prepared to immediately step in and contribute upon their return from the World Cup. The drive and motivation should carry over to the NHL season as each player will look to take their club to the promised land of the Stanley Cup playoffs in search of that level of competition again sooner, rather than later.
Crosby Named MVP of World Cup of Hockey
From Stanley Cup champion and playoff MVP to World Cup of Hockey champion and tournament MVP, Sidney Crosby has had an incredible 2016. Seemingly an afterthought for the early part of last season, Crosby managed to turn his season around in a hurry, and in dramatic fashion at that. His success earned him the NHL’s top prize, and MVP honours in the playoffs. Just a few short months later, Crosby showed that he still had that Stanley Cup-flare, performing at an other-worldly level throughout the entire World Cup of Hockey tournament.
— theScore NHL (@theScoreNHL) September 30, 2016
The 29-year-old led the entire tournament in points, and while Crosby didn’t lead the tournament or his country in goals, it’s impossible to miss the effect that he had on Canada’s success in each game. It should come as no surprise, however, as Crosby has now won 25 straight games in a Canadian uniform.
The case can be made for a few of Canada’s players to have won the World Cup MVP award, including Boston Bruins’ forward Brad Marchand who led the tournament in goals (five), was second in points (eight) and scored two huge goals in the semifinals, as well as the short-handed game winner to clinch the victory for Canada.
Another candidate could have been Montreal Canadiens’ goaltender Carey Price, who went 5-0 in the tournament with only seven goals-against allowed, a .957 save percentage, and a 1.40 goals-against average and one shutout. In the end, Crosby ultimately went on to win the vote unanimously, and in doing so, he joined elite company.
Only three players in history have ever won the Conn Smythe, Hart Trophy, and Canada Cup/World Cup MVP. Crosby became the most recent player to do so, with the previous two being Bobby Orr and Wayne Gretzky.
It’s special. I think I don’t have to look too far back to think about how tough it was a year ago starting out the season. I think I appreciate this a lot. It’s not easy. Everyone wants to be playing for Team Canada. There’s a lot of expectations. We play here, we understand that. But it’s an unbelievable atmosphere to play here at home, to be a hockey player playing for Team Canada and be with this group of guys has been a lot of fun.
– Sidney Crosby
Stefan Elliott Signs in KHL
The list of remaining NHL restricted free agents got smaller Thursday when Nashville Predators’ defenseman Stefan Elliott signed with the AK Bars Kazan of the KHL. Elliott had spent the last season split between the Arizona Coyotes, Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, and Nashville Predators (where he played in just two games with the club)
The 25-year-old is a former 49th overall draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft but has bounced around the league a bit since then. Over five seasons, Elliott has played in 84 career NHL games and has scored eight goals and 24 points split between the Colorado Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes, and Nashville Predators. At the AHL level, Elliott is a former All-Star, earning that honour during the 2014-15 season when he finished the year with most goals by a defenseman with 19. In 234 AHL games, Elliott has scored 51 goals and 114 points but has never been able to translate that success into a full-time NHL opportunity.
Odds and Ends
– All three goals in the final World Cup of Hockey game were scored by members of the Boston Bruins (Zdeno Chara for Team Europe, and Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand for Team Canada)
– Slava Voynov signed a two-year extension with SKA St. Petersburgh