Leafs well-represented at upcoming World Cup

Things have been turning in the right direction for the Leafs’ organization for about a year now. Yes, they still have a ways to go for any success in standings, but it’s nice that some of the pieces they’ve accumulated will be getting some worldwide acclaim in the meantime.

World Cup rosters were finalized today for the eight participating countries in September’s tourney, and Toronto will send their fair share of players to…well…uhh…Toronto.

And things are pretty spread out. The Leafs will be sending players to six teams: Russia, Czech Republic, North America U-23, USA, Finland and host Canada.

Russia

Newly-signed Nikita Zaitsev will be on Russia’s blue-line, and might be relied upon pretty heavily considering what the rest of that defence corps looks like.

Zaitsev had 26 points in 46 games for CSKA Moscow this past year and Toronto’s front office is high on him being a real contributor next season.

Czech Republic

Noted nice man and Phaneuf trade enabler Milan Michalek will suit up for the Czechs, along with his brother Zbynek from the Yotes. Here’s to driving up that trade deadline value.

USA

James van Riemsdyk missed a huge portion of this past season, but when he did play, his production was fine as it’s always been. He’ll get the call for the States again, as he should. Someone has to score goals on a Dean Lombardi-led team that includes Justin Abdelkader and not Phil Kessel.

Finland

Uncle Leo is a staple on the international hockey stage. No surprises here.

North America 23-and-Under

This will be the team Leafs fans likely pay the most attention to.

Rielly got the call in the first round of selections a while ago, and now Auston Matthews has been added after his lights-out World Championship. They’ll join McDavid, Eichel, Gaudreau, and a bunch of other exciting youngsters.

It’ll definitely be a lot of fun taking in those games.

Canada

stam

  • BarelyComments

    Can we all just take a few minutes to laugh at the USA who have essentially eliminated any chance of success they would have had at this tournament four months before it even starts… Callahan, Dubinsky, Abdelkader, Jack Johnson over Kessel, Tyler Johnson, Okposo, Ryan, Faulk or Shattenkirk… They had three Johnsons to pick from and they picked the two worst… Brilliant.

  • BarelyComments

    I don’t know why people are crying here. JVR is a far better and more complete player then the 1 dimensional and inferior kessel. Yes kessel scores with that wicked shot but I’m so much more happier with JVR.

  • Gary Empey

    It does seem odd that Laine is not mentioned as a possible Leafs pick. Laine did win MVP in his mens league. MVP in the recent Worlds. Voted best forward in the Worlds. Made the #1 allstar team.
    Canandian players who played against said his shot/pass is unbelievable. Laine originally made the Finish mens league on his defensive play at 17. European scouts have him ranked #1. Well respected Cory Pronman at ESPN has him ranked #1.

    At the same time Matthews also preformed extremely well all year and at the Worlds.

    Personally I think Matthews is what the Leafs need. Trying to compare elite wingers with elite centers is not easy to do. Lets give Laine his due respect in this draft. He is no more a complimentary piece, than Marner is, or Patrick Kane for that matter.

  • BarelyComments

    True. It would be a lot more professional to include Laine. Laine is playing amazingly well and is younger than Mathews. It’s strange how the whole Leafs’ blogosphere has decided that Mathews is the one getting picked.

  • Gary Empey

    Have you seriously not learned your lesson yet? The leafs dealt a one way winger who was known as a sniper. What has Washington won with Ovechkin? The Leafs need a true #1 center. They don’t just grow on trees. That is why Mathews should be the pick and not Laine. Laine also was the beneficiary of having far superior talent around him at the World’s meanwhile Mathews was a driving force on a team that lacked talent. Even at the under-20’s Laine had the benefit of Pulujarvi at center which allowed Laine to coast in the defensive zone and play a pure offensive game.

    The leafs tanked for an opportunity like this, to get a true cornerstone piece. Not a complementary piece that has had a ton of helium behind his rise in the rankings all year. Mathews has been the consensus #1 of this year’s draft the entire time. Don’t screw it up by overthinking it. Give me Toews over Ovechkin all day long (those are the comparables).

  • RedLightRaycroft

    You want to know the bare-bones reason why Matthews is better than Laine? Matthews creates the play and pushes it forward. Laine just finishes it. And we saw how easily the better teams at the World Championships defended against Laine. He was invisible in the medal rounds playing with NHL line-mates. Matthews is the only reason USA was able to compete for Bronze.