With news that the NHL is "cautiously optimistic" that current CBA talks might lead to a World Cup in February 2021, we've decided to predict what each team's roster could look like should the tournament take place.
We adopted the NHL's format for the 2016 World Cup. Canada, the United States, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Czech Republic all send teams, while Team North America (players aged 23-and-under from Canada and the U.S.) and Team Europe (players from other European countries) round out the field.
Teams are comprised of any combination of 20 skaters and three goalies. Any Canadian or American player under 24 years old on Feb. 1, 2021, is automatically assigned to Team North America. However, we've added our own caveat: If a player suited up for Team North America in 2016, he is eligible to represent Canada or the U.S. this time around, even if he's still under 24.
In this edition, we project Team Canada's roster.
Head coach: Mike Babcock
Babcock may draw criticism from Toronto Maple Leafs fans, but his record with Team Canada is flawless. Until he proves otherwise, he's the man for the job.
Brad Marchand Sidney Crosby Patrice Bergeron
Steven Stamkos Connor McDavid Mark Stone
John Tavares Nathan MacKinnon Mark Scheifele
Taylor Hall Ryan O'Reilly Tyler Seguin
Notable omissions: Logan Couture, Brayden Point, Claude Giroux, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sean Monahan, Sean Couturier
The Marchand-Crosby-Bergeron trio was unstoppable at the 2016 World Cup and is essentially unbreakable, even though all three players are already in their 30s. Stone and his puck-retrieving prowess would be an excellent complement to offensive dynamos McDavid and Stamkos. MacKinnon, Tavares, Scheifele, Hall, and O'Reilly are all virtual locks.
Choosing the last couple of forward spots was difficult, but a more proven Seguin got the nod over Point; if the Lightning phenom puts together another 40-goal season, that could change. Leaving off Couture, a proven clutch performer, was tough, but Toews, who had an offensive resurgence in 2018-19, got the nod instead.