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Rosters announced for World Championship

by Staff Writer / Vancouver Canucks

Just days before the 2012 IIHF World Championship kicks off on May 4 in Finland and Sweden, the two countries who met in last year's gold-medal game, the rosters for each team were officially released.

As is the case every year, many of the NHL's biggest stars dot the national-team lineups.

While Belarus, Italy, Kazakhstan, and Norway will not feature a single player currently on an NHL roster, the remaining 12 countries have at least some NHL representation. Surprisingly, the defending champion and top-ranked Finns are not among the more star-studded teams. They will have Kari Lehtonen of the Dallas Stars in goal but won't feature a single NHL player on their blue line. Up front, they'll rely on team captain Mikko Koivu (Minnesota) and forward Jussi Jokinen (Carolina). Top prospect Mikael Granlund, who starred for the Finns last year, is also on the roster.

Sweden, last year's runner-up, will be Red Wings-heavy with Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Niklas Kronwall, and Jonathan Ericsson on the roster. The Swedes also have some of the NHL's top young talent in Loui Eriksson (Stars), Gabriel Landeskog (Avalanche), Victor Hedman (Lightning) and Viktor Stalberg (Blackhawks). After being led last year by Swedish Elite League goaltender Viktor Fasth, the Swedes will rely on Buffalo's Jhonas Enroth this year.

Team USA and Canada will be made up almost entirely of NHL talent. Considering both teams bowed out in the quarterfinals last year, the key will be for Canadian coach Brent Sutter and American coach Scott Gordon to make that talent gel. The Americans will rely on goaltender Jimmy Howard (Red Wings) and veteran defensemen Jack Johnson (Blue Jackets) and Alex Goligoski (Stars), as well as youngsters Cam Fowler (Ducks) and Justin Faulk (Hurricanes). Up front, the United States will be led by 30-goal scorers Bobby Ryan (Ducks) and Max Pacioretty (Canadiens) as well as center Paul Stastny (Avalanche), who starred for the USA at the 2007 tournament.

Like year's past, Canada will feature a number of NHL All-Stars, including goaltender Cam Ward ('Canes), defenseman Duncan Keith (Blackhawks) and Dion Phaneuf (Maple Leafs), and forwards Jamie Benn (Stars), Jordan Eberle (Oilers), Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry (Ducks), Jeff Skinner (Hurricanes) and John Tavares (Islanders) -- who led Team Canada in scoring last year. The key for Canada could be Ward, who went 5-0 with a 2.20 goals against average in leading Canada to the 2007 championship. The following year, he went 4-1 as Canada finished second behind Russia.

In the highest-scoring bronze-medal game in tournament history, the Czechs topped Russia 7-4 last year. While a number of players from that game, including Jaromir Jagr, Patrik Elias, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Alex Ovechkin, will not be participating, the Czechs and Russians still feature standout NHL talent. The Czechs will be led by David Krejci (Bruins), Michael Frolik (Blackhawks), Ales Hemsky (Oilers), Tomas Plekanec (Canadiens) and Jiri Tlusty (Hurricanes). The Russians, meanwhile, will be led by two of the world's best players in Evgeni Malkin (Penguins) and Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings). With Semyon Varlamov (Avalanche) in net and NHLers Alexander Burmistrov (Jets) and Nikolai Kulemin (Maple Leafs) as well as top prospect Evgeni Kuznetsov up front, Russia will look to improve on last year's fourth-place finish.

Though it's the birthplace of some of the world's finest players, Slovakia will only feature two NHL players in Tomas Kopecky (Panthers) and Andrej Sekera (Sabres). Florida's Marcel Goc will play for Germany; Denmark will have Jannik Hansen (Canucks), Philip Larsen (Stars), Frans Nielsen (Islanders) and Lars Eller (Canadiens), while defensemen Luca Sbisa (Ducks) and Mark Streit (Islanders) will play for Switzerland.

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