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Ekman-Larsson to Play for Sweden at World Championship

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GLENDALE -- Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will play for Sweden at the upcoming 2018 IIHF World Championship.

"I'm going back to Sweden on Monday, and I'm going to go play Worlds," Ekman-Larsson told reporters during his "Exit Day" press conference inside Gila River Arena. "It's going to be a lot of fun."

The 2018 IIHF World Championship will run from May 4-20 in Denmark. The annual tournament features 16 teams from around the globe. Many NHL players not competing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs will participate.

Ekman-Larsson thrice has skated for Sweden at this event - in 2011, 2015 and 2017. Most recently, he chipped in two goals and three assists in eight games last year to help the Swedes win the gold medal. In total, Ekman-Larsson has produced five goals and 16 assists in 23 IIHF World Championship games. 

"I kind of want to get used to playing at that time of the year because I think we're going to be back in the playoffs here soon," Ekman-Larsson said. "I kind of want my body to get used to that. That's why I'm going to play Worlds. And to have some fun."

Ekman-Larsson was the only Coyotes player on Monday to announce he'll play at this year's tournament. Others likely will follow. Antti Raanta, for example, is considering tending goal for Finland, but hasn't committed to do so yet.

"It's case by case," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said, regarding if he wanted his players to participate should they be invited by their home nation. "Some guys need the rest; they've got some injuries. Some guys I think might benefit from it. Honestly, it's really in their heart. I would never, ever tell a guy not to go. If I want to play for my country, absolutely. But is it going to help my career or is it going to hurt my career? That's something that you have to weigh in."

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