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Bure picks Team Canada as World Cup favorite

Russian superstar believes depth sets them apart from field

NHL.com @NHL

Russian superstar Pavel Bure predicts that Team Canada will win its second straight World Cup of Hockey title this fall in Toronto.

"I believe Canada is the No. 1 favorite to win World Cup of Hockey because of their roster depth," Bure said in his latest blog on NHL.com/ru. "They have a choice of two to three equally skilled players for each [roster] spot. It's hard to match that."

Canada, the two-time defending Olympic gold medalist, won the last World Cup of Hockey, which was played in 2004.

The 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be played in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 and feature eight teams. Canada, the United States, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic and Russia are the national teams involved. They'll be joined by two new entries, Team North America and Team Europe. Team North America features players from Canada and the United States who are age 23 or younger as of Oct. 1; Team Europe features players from across the European continent, minus the four national teams already involved.

Each team named a roster of 16 players on March 2. The final seven players for each team must be named by June 1.

Russia named only NHL players and Bure said he likes the way the team is taking shape.

"I am not surprised with the 16 players chosen by Russian coach Oleg Znarok," he said. "Some say that he should have included [Dallas Stars forward Valeri] Nichushkin in that list. But I believe there has to be balance between forwards who can score and forwards who can help out on the defense. And [Tampa Bay Lightning forward Vladislav] Namestnikov has great defensive skills."

Bure never played in the World Cup of Hockey. He missed the 1996 tournament, won by the United States, because of injury. He retired after the 2002-03 season, well before the 2004 tournament.

He still thinks about what could have been in 1996 before his tournament was ended after sustaining a bruised kidney in the final exhibition game before the tournament.

"I was upset about having to miss the [tournament] in 1996 because my line with Sergei Fedorov and Alex Mogilny was considered one of the best at that time," he said. "We never got a chance to showcase our skills together."

Bure, who had 437 goals and 779 points in 702 games during a 12-season NHL career with the Vancouver Canucks, Florida Panthers and New York Rangers, makes regular contributions to NHL.com/ru.

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