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Toronto Maple Leafs players to watch at the 2024 IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championship

Pontus Holmberg (Yuri Kuzmin/KHL)
Photo credit:Pontus Holmberg (Yuri Kuzmin/KHL)
Steven Ellis
1 month ago
Toronto Maple Leafs fans are well accustomed to following the IIHF World Hockey Championship – that’s what happens when your team gets knocked out early as often as the Leafs do.
After getting eliminated in Game 7 by the Boston Bruins earlier this month, the club is sending two NHLers – Sweden’s Pontus Holmberg and Czechia’s David Kämpf – to Prague and Ostrava for two weeks to battle it out for gold. It’s not a ton of representation, and players can be added to rosters after the event begins on May 10, but it’ll at least give Leafs Nation something to follow for the next few weeks.
There will be a couple of other former Toronto players taking part, with Michael Bunting (Canada), Martins Dzierkals (Latvia), Carl Grundstrom (Sweden) and Ondrej Kase (Czechia) representing their respective nations. And there’s even a third player in the Maple Leafs’ organization involved – someone you might not expect.
For those looking to follow the tournament, here’s a guide to the Leafs players taking part:

John Tavares, C (Canada)

No joke, the news broke for this 12 minutes before it went live on the site. Talk about good timing. Tavares will join a team that just recently added the likes of Tampa Bay Lightning forwards Brandon Hagel and Nick Paul along with Los Angeles Kings forward Pierre-Luc Dubois. The news comes after Macklin Celebrini left Czechia for the draft lottery, while 2023 third overall pick Adam Fantilli recently went home as well.
It’s going to be a reunion for Tavares and former general manager Kyle Dubas, who’s serving as Team Canada’s associate general manager alongside general manager Rick Nash. He’ll also be reunited with former teammate Michael Bunting, who was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins after signing a three-year contract with the Carolina Hurricanes last summer. Tavares will bring leadership and stability up the middle, and a nice veteran boost for a team that’s otherwise pretty young.

Pontus Holmberg, C (Sweden)

It’s been a while since Holmberg has represented the Swedes at this event, playing just two games at the 2021 World Championship with no points to show for. He had a good Olympic Games performance in 2022, his last international experience beyond the Euro Hockey Tour to date.
Holmberg had an interesting season, spending time in the AHL while also putting up a career-best seven goals and 17 points in 54 games with the Maple Leafs. A bottom-six forward who bounced around the lineup when injuries arose, Holmberg will likely play limited minutes for the Swedes here, too. They need guys with speed and defensive acumen and they’ll get that from Holmberg.

David Kämpf, C (Czechia)

Set to play in his second World Championship with the Czechs, Kämpf will bring the team exactly what he’s done in Toronto the past three years – defensive responsibility. He doesn’t score a lot, but at a tournament like this, his speed and own-zone play will come in handy for a team that will need to win some tight games.
Kämpf had his lowest offensive production this year during his time in Toronto, with just 19 points, and many fans wondered if his $2.4 million cap hit would be better spent elsewhere. It’s not uncommon for a good World Championship showing to help a player end the year with confidence—just ask William Nylander about it. Hopefully, for the 29-year-old, Kämpf can end the year on a high note on a team with big ambitions on home ice.

Fabrice Herzog, RW (Switzerland)

Are you a really a diehard Leafs fan if you don’t know the Herzog lore? Drafted 142nd overall in 2013, Herzog is still technically property of Toronto despite having never signed signed an NHL contract. After getting drafted, he spent a year with the QMJHL’s Quebec Ramparts before getting a five-game stint with the Toronto Marlies in 2014. He jetted off back to home to Switzerland the following year and has never looked back, representing his country at two Olympic Games and four World Championships.
Herzog hasn’t been a big point producer at the WC, but he brings veteran experience and a good work ethic. He’s got some size, decent hands and is reliable defensively, so he’ll likely end up in a bottom-six role with the Swiss again. There’s basically no chance he’ll ever come to the NHL, but, hey, it’s fun trying to keep up with him, at least.
 

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