After over a decade of absence, the World Cup of Hockey will return.
The games will take place in September of 2016 and all games will be played at the Air Canada Centre, home of the Toronto Maple Leafs. There will be eight total teams, six of those being called “The Big Six Countries” which includes the teams of Canada, United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland, and Czech Republic.
The other two teams are what they are calling “All-Star” teams. One is team Europe, which consists of players from countries that do not have their country solely represented by a team (such as Slovakia). The other team is an under-23 team North America.
The St. Louis Blues are projected to have two players make Team USA, with center David Backes and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk. The Blues captain has played all 55 games so far for the Blues this year and has tallied 28 total points (12 goals, 16 assists).
Backes has won 50.7% of his faceoffs this season, which ranks 22nd in the league. That isn’t so bad compared to the league leader, Ryan O’Reilly, who is 6.2% ahead of Backes. Backes is expected to be a fourth-liner for Team USA.
Shattenkirk has played in 26 games for the Blues this season, and has recorded 17 points (2 goals, 15 assists). He has battled injury so far this season, but has still proved to be a valuable player. Shattenkirk is expected to pair with either Minnesota Wild Defenseman Ryan Suter or Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers.
Here are some of the other Blues players who could make it to the World Cup of Hockey (not all are guarantees):
Team Canada: Alex Pietrangelo
Team Russia: Vladimir Tarasenko, Ivan Barbashev (prospect)
Team Sweden: Alex Steen, Patrik Berglund
Team Finland: Jori Lehtera, Petteri Lindbohm (prospect, sees partial playing time with Blues)
Team North America: Colton Parayko
Some of them will make their respective teams, but some will not. Either way, the St. Louis Blues will be well represented at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Former St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie is also expected to make the Team USA roster. Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender and St. Louis native Ben Bishop is projected to be one of the three goalies to make the squad as well. Does the name Vladimir Sobotka ring any bells? The former Blue who is now apart of the Avangard Omsk of the KHL is expected to make Team Czech Republic.