The World Championships kick off tomorrow and the Canucks will be well represented with as many as six members of the organization suiting up for their various countries.
Troy Stecher (Canada), Jacob Markstrom (Sweden), Elias Pettersson (Sweden), Loui Eriksson (Sweden), Quinn Hughes (United States), and Thatcher Demko (United States) will all be vying for gold at the tournament, which runs from May 10-26th in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.
This will be the first time for Troy Stecher representing Canada at a major international tournament. The Richmond native had played for Canada West at the World Junior A Challenge, but never at this level of competition. Stecher has been playing on Canada's third pairing with lower mainland native, Shea Theodore, in pre-competition games.
It's an exciting experience for Stecher, after taking some noticeable steps forward this season.
Jacob Markstrom is expected to suit up for Sweden for the fourth time at the World Championships. The netminder suffered an injury in a pre-competition match that has resulted in him not being named to the initial roster. Once he is fully healthy, he is expected to be added to Team Sweden.
His last appearance was in 2015-16, when he posted a 3.16 GAA and 0.896 SV%. He had standout performances in 2012-13 (1.58 GAA and 0.934 SV%) and 2009-10 (1.33 GAA and 0.944 SV%) while he was a member of the Florida Panthers organization. He was able to capture a gold medal at the 2012-13 event.
Once Markstrom gets going, it is expected that he and Henrik Lundqvist will be battling for the net.
Elias Pettersson will represent Sweden for the second year in a row. Last summer he was limited to five games after breaking his hand on a breakaway; he scored one goal and added two assists in the tournament. Fans will have a keen eye on Pettersson after he led the Canucks in scoring en route to be nominated for the Calder Trophy. The Canucks centre is the youngest player on Sweden's roster.
Pettersson is no stranger to playing for Tre Kroner having suited up for the national team at the World Juniors, Ivan Hlinka Cup, and U18 World Juniors over the past few years.
The last member of the Canucks to represent Sweden is veteran forward Loui Eriksson. The Goteberg native has played 44 career games at the World Championships and is a point per game player. He has captured a gold medal (2012-13), silver medal (2010-11), and bronze medal (2008-09). Eriksson will be looking to add to that medal haul this year as the oldest skater on the team and the second oldest player with only Henrik Lundqvist besting him in that department.
The United States is a young and fast team that should be fun to watch. If Canucks fans aren't keeping close tabs on Canada and Sweden, they will be wanting to tune into the American games. Quinn Hughes, 2018 1st round pick, will be looking to take on a bigger role on the backend after serving as the 7th defenceman last year. So far, he has been playing on the third pairing with New York Rangers prospect Adam Fox.
The left-handed defender is the second youngest player on Team USA, with the only player that is younger than him being his brother Jack.
Hughes posted two assists in 10 games for the Americans last season.
Goaltender Thatcher Demko will look to take on the starting position for the Americans in his second appearance at the World Championships. He was part of the American roster for the 2015-16 event, but was there as the third-string goaltender. Now he will battle former Canucks goaltender Cory Schneider for the net after securing a full-time spot with the Canucks this season.
Demko has suited up for the Americans at all the junior tournaments through his developmental years. That was highlighted by a silver medal at the 2012-13 U18 World Juniors.
Given that Sweden is in Group B while Canada and the United States are in Group A, there is only one game in the preliminary round that sees Canucks face off against each other.
On May 21 at 11 am PT, Canada and the USA will meet on the final day of the opening round. It will likely be a high stakes game with positioning in the group on the line.
The Quarterfinals will take place on May 23rd and that could be the time that we see Sweden face off against either Canada or the United States.
It's hard to know how the groups will shake out, but that's what makes the event so fun.