Of all the teams set to compete in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Team Europe — comprised of players not from Sweden, Finland, Russia or the Czech Republic — is the one most likely to have logistical issues.
On Thursday, it took a step towards figuring them out.
A group of prominent officials met during the IIHF’s semi-annual congress to share information about the squad’s makeup. Included were Team Europe’s staff — president Franz Reindl, GM Miroslav Satan, head coach Ralph Krueger — along with NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly, and the NHLPA’s Rob Zaumner.
The challenges that lie ahead are tough.
Where as the other amalgamated team, the North American Youngstars, will be made up of just Canadian and U.S. players, Reindl said earlier this month Team Europe will be chosen from “12 to 14” countries (delegates from some of these countries were on hand on Thursday.)
More, from the IIHF:
Last season European representation in the NHL from these potential countries was led by Slovakia (13 players), Switzerland (13), Germany (10) and Denmark (8). Austria had three players; Belarus, France and Latvia had two players each, and one player came from each of the following countries: Croatia, Lithuania, Norway and Slovenia.
Add Italy and Ukraine, with three players signed by NHL teams last season but who only played with farm teams, and you have 14 European countries with a total number of 57 NHL players last season that may be called to Team Europe.
Last week, NHL.com projected 23-man roster with the following geographical breakdown:
Norway (1): Mats Zuccarello
Slovenia (1): Anze Kopitar
Latvia (1): Zemgus Girgensons
All told, that’s eight different nations falling under the same banner. That number could get as high as 10 if the likes of the Islanders’ Mikhail Grabovski (Belarus) and Dallas’ Antoine Roussel (France) work their way into the mix, so it’s easy to see why meetings like today’s are important.