BUFFALO, NY -- It’ll be Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan versus the World.
The Calgary Flames pair was among the 16 players named to the under-23 Team North America set to compete at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
“It’s exciting to be a part of something like this,” Gaudreau said. “For the under-23 team you look up and down the roster and you see a lot of pretty skilled players. It’s an exciting roster to look at and I’m really exited to get to August and September here and get to the full tournament.”
Team North America is a new notion in international hockey. It features the best players age 23 years and younger as of Oct. 1 from both Canada and the United States. The eight-team tournament that will take place from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto.
“It will be an honour,” said Monahan, one of just five players on the roster with over 200 games of NHL experience. “Obviously every time you can represent something like that it is pretty special.”
Gaudreau leads the Flames in goals (24), assists (39) and points (63) this season. In 143 career NHL games, the 22-year-old has 49 goals and 128 points.
Monahan, 21, is second in goals (20) and points (44) for Calgary, and tied for the team-lead in goals in 2014-15 with 31. The third-year forward has played 218 career NHL games, and has 73 goals and 140 points. Those 73 goals lead all players selected in the 2013 NHL Draft.
Also named to the team are forwards Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers, Jack Eichel of the Buffalo Sabres, Brandon Saad of the Columbus Blue Jackets, J.T. Miller of the New York Rangers, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings, and Sean Couturier of the Philadelphia Flyers.
Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, Morgan Rielly of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and Seth Jones and Ryan Murray of the Blue Jackets were named on defence. Goaltenders John Gibson of the Anaheim Ducks, Connor Hellebyuck of the Winnipeg Jets, and Matthew Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins were also selected.
General managers Peter Chiarelli and Stan Bowman assembled the team, which features eight American-born and eight Canadian-born players.
“It’s unbelievable potential,” Flames coach Bob Hartley said. “All of those teams will be great, but that under-23 team, don’t get them out of the competition too early. They may lack experience in that group, but there’s not a lack of willingness or talent or skills. This is going to be a great group.
“Looking at Johnny and Mony, we get to see them everyday. Those two guys are unbelievable. Lets wait to hear the news, but we’re huge fans of theirs and we hope that they are going to be on that list.”