With training camps for the World Cup of Hockey getting under way, we’re finally starting to learn what the coaches have in mind for their line-ups. So, we’re going to round up what we’ve found so far about the lines that the Bolts will be playing on.
Team North America
Jonathan Drouin is starting out right at the top of the line-up for Team North America teaming up with Connor McDavid and Mark Scheifele.
In McDavid, you have a true generational talent at center. He missed almost half of last season with a broken collarbone, but managed 48 points in 45 games for the Edmonton Oilers. Over three seasons in the OHL with the Erie Otters, he had 285 points in 166 games plus another 68 points in 34 playoff games. While the Otters never won an OHL Championship, McDavid has gold medals at the U18 WJC, U20 WJC, and the World Championships.
Scheifele is one of the oldest players on Team North America having turned 23 years old back in March. Sheifele has 145 points in 227 games in the NHL with the Winnipeg Jets. In the OHL, he had 217 points in 158 games. Scheifele will be a good complement to Drouin and McDavid.
Continuing the trend, Nikita Kucherov has also landed on a top line with Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Kuznetsov. Meanwhile, Namestnikov is playing left win on a “fourth line” with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin.
Ovechkin requires little introduction. He is the best goal scorer of this generation. He has 525 goals and 966 points in 839 games. He has won the Rocket Richard Trophy for scoring the most goals in the NHL six times including the past four seasons. He has been a 7-time All-Star as well as being named to the end of year First All-Star Team 7 times. He’s won the Hart Trophy 3 times. He’s won the Ted Lindsey Award 3 times. The Art Ross Trophy once. Suffice to say… he’s an amazing player and Kucherov will have plenty of opportunity to set him up. The biggest concern will be that when playing with Stamkos, Kucherov was sometimes too deferential and would pass up opportunities to shoot.
Kuznetsov is a Washington teammate of Ovechkin and has plenty of playing time with him. Last year, Kuznetsov was Ovechkin’s third most common forward partner and had just over 300 5v5 minutes played together. After a year of 37 points in 80 games in his first full season, Kuznetsov broke out last year with 77 points in 82 games. Kuznetsov is more playmaker than goal scorer, but he’ll have plenty of opportunity to set up both Ovechkin and Kucherov. With Ovechkin and Kuznetsov already having some chemistry developed, it’ll just be a matter of fitting Kucherov in to get the line clicking.
Namestnikov will be moving to the left wing side to pair with center Artem Anisimov. Anisimov has 234 points in 489 NHL games. He began his NHL career with the New York Rangers and Columbus Blue Jackets but spent last season with the Chicago Blackhawks after being traded by Columbus in the Brandon Saad trade. Last season he had 20 goals and 42 points in 77 games.
Artemi Panarin came over to the NHL last season after a good start to his KHL career to play for the Chicago Blackhawks. He was lined up with Anisimov and Patrick Kane and went on to have 30 goals and 77 points in 80 games. He has speed and skill to burn and should be the primary goal scorer on this line. Like with the Ovechkin and Kuznetsov pairing, Panarin and Anisimov already have chemistry and it will be a matter of working Namestnikov into the mix.
Nikita Nesterov was a late add to the Team Russia roster due to injury. He’s the last defenseman on the roster and it doesn’t sound like he’ll see much ice time in the tournament unless there is another injury as he’s clearly the 7th defenseman.
It’s not clear yet what the pecking order is for the goalies of Team Russia, but we now know that Vasilevskiy either didn’t have a special mask made for the WCoH, or it hasn’t arrived.
One this to note about the Russian line up, is that several KHL players were not at practice so the lines are liable to be changed up.
Filppula is anchoring a third line for Team Finland that I would expect is going to be their top defensive unit in the tournament taking on the top lines that the other teams will throw out there. Filppula was also just named an Alternate Captain for Team Finland which isn’t surprising as he is one of the most experienced players on the team.
Teravainen is a young forward that came up with the Chicago Blackhawks but was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes this summer. He has 44 points in 115 career NHL games, but in Liiga he had 93 points in 114 games. He’s a skilled forward with plenty of speed. He can play center, but is moving to the wing to play on this line.
Jori Lehtera has spent the past couple seasons with the St. Louis Blues. He is a player that is very similar to Filppula that plays a third line defensive role for the Blues. He had a successful run in the KHL with 153 points in 178 games before coming to the NHL. He’s had only 78 points in 154 NHL games. He’s also a plus-33 in the NHL. He is also a natural center that is moving to the wing for this defensive minded third line.
With Team Canada chock full of centers, not every one can play center. So Steven Stamkos, as expected, is moving to right wing. He’s found himself paired up with John Tavares and Ryan Getzlaf. Coincidentally, all three players are the Captains of their NHL teams.
Tavares is a left handed center that is shifting to the left wing for this line. He went 1st overall in 2009 just ahead of Victor Hedman. He has 471 points in 510 NHL games. He was also on Team Canada for the Sochi Olympics and won a gold medal. He also had two gold medals for Canada in the U20 WJC. He’s had success in these kind of short tournaments and is a responsible forward with offensive skill.
Getzlaf will be sticking at center for this line and brings a lot of past success with him. He’s a Stanley Cup champion, two-time Olympic gold medalist, and also has golds in the U18 WJC and U20 WJC, as well as silvers in the U20 WJC and World Championships. In 787 career NHL games, he has 741 points. More of a playmaker than a goal scorer with over 500 assists to his name, Getzlaf can be a big physical presence on the line setting up the goal scorer Tavares and Stamkos.
Team Czech Republic and Team Sweden
No lines have come out yet from Team Czech Republic or Team Sweden’s training camps so we’ll do a part two when those show up.