COLUMBUS — First, they really need to figure out the name.
Officially it’s the straightforward-but-staid “Team Europe,” though we heard plenty of other monikers during Saturday’s announcement of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey: Pan-European, Team Other Europe and The Island of Misfit Boys (courtesy Bleacher Report’s Dave Lozo, which I feel might not stick)
For clarity’s sake, the squad is called Team Europe (for now) and comprised of players outside the traditional Big Four — Sweden, Finland, Russia and Czech Republic — of international hockey. As such, the NHL and NHLPA have hatched a Ryder Cup-style squad of players from Slovakia, Switzerland, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark, France, Belarus, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Austria and another other European country I’ve failed to mention.
Let’s take a look at potential roster choices shall we?
Forwards: Anze Kopitar (Slovenia), Marian Gaborik, Marian Hossa, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Richard Panik, Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia), Thomas Vanek, Michael Raffl, Michael Grabner (Austria), Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus), Mikkel Boedker, Frans Nielsen, Jannik Hansen, Lars Eller (Denmark), Antoine Roussel, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (France), Tobias Rieder, Leon Draisaitl, Marcel Goc (Germany), Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia), Mats Zuccarello (Norway), Nino Niederreiter (Switzerland), Dainius Zubrus (Lithuania).
Defense: Zdeno Chara, Andrej Sekera, Lubomir Visnovsky, Andrej Meszaros (Slovakia), Roman Josi, Mark Streit, Yannick Weber, Luca Sbisa, Mirco Mueller, Raphael Diaz (Switzerland), Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg (Germany).
Goalie: Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia), Frederik Andersen (Denmark), Thomas Greiss (Germany), Jonas Hiller, Reto Berra (Switzerland).
Halak, who’s represented Slovakia internationally on a number of occasions, figures to be in the mix for one of the goaltending spots — and, one would think, the starting job — but has mixed feelings about the Team Europe concept.
“I would say if it was 10 years ago it would be upsetting because 10 years ago we had a lot of guys in the NHL,” he explained during . “Right now, we got maybe 12. So that would be tough to make a team out of 12 guys.
“Obviously you need 20. It will be different to see [the rest of Team Europe] but at the same time I’m open to it. It would be nice to play with some other players from different countries.”
As most assumed when reports of a Team Europe concept first broke, the team will be well-stocked at forward but thin on defense and in goal. On their own, Switzerland and Slovakia probably have the strongest contingents but lack depth certain positions. Other countries simply don’t have enough players period so, from a competition standpoint, the Ryder Cup-style amalgam makes sense.
It just remains to be seen if all the projected players fully embrace the idea.
“I’m sure it’s going to be strange at first, but playing against each other you know pretty much all of the guys anyway, Kopitar said. “I don’t think it’s going to be too hard to come together.”