As preparations for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 hit high gear leading to the start of the tournament Sept. 17 in Toronto, NHL.com looks at how the teams stand. Seven writers who will cover the two-week event at Air Canada Centre were asked to rank the teams from 1-8 in various categories. Today, we look at which team has the best group of forwards on its roster.
Team Canada, led by Pittsburgh Penguins center and Stanley Cup Playoffs MVP Sidney Crosby, have the best collection of forwards in the World Cup of Hockey 2016, according to a panel of NHL.com writers.
All seven first-place votes went to Team Canada, which finished eight points ahead of Team Russia, which is led by Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin.
READ: Full World Cup of Hockey 2016 rosters
"The Canadians are loaded up front, plain and simple," said Brian Compton, NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor. "Crosby is arguably the best player in the world, Jonathan Toews (Chicago Blackhawks) might be the best leader and Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars) is consistently one of the League's top scorers. Combine that with natural scorers such as Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay Lightning and John Tavares (New York Islanders), and you have a forward group that is impossible to match.
Senior writer Dan Rosen said he likes the way Team Canada management has structured the 13 forwards selected, leaning heavily on skaters that have experience at center, as well as veterans of international championships.
"Eleven of the 13 forwards are either full-time centers or can play center when necessary, giving Team Canada coach Mike Babcock a plethora of options," he said. "In addition, Jamie Benn of the Dallas Stars used to be a center before turning into a left wing.
"Canada's roster includes eight forwards who were part of the gold-medal winning team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim Ducks), Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) and Toews were part of the last two Olympic gold medal-winning teams."
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Though there was unity on the team that has the best group of forwards, there was a bit of conflict on which teams were next.
Team Sweden received three second-place votes, as did Team Russia. Sweden won the silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, losing 3-0 to Canada in the gold-medal game. Russia did not medal as the host of the 2014 Olympics. Team Russia finished second in the poll with 48 points, six more than Team Sweden.
Team USA, which finished fourth in Sochi, losing to Canada and Finland in its final two games, earned the other second-place vote and finished fourth in the poll
The World Cup of Hockey 2016 will feature the debut of two new teams: Team North America and Team Europe. Team North America, a team composed of players from the United States and Canada age 23 and under, finished fifth in the poll with 29 points. Team Europe, which consists of players from European countries other than Russia, Finland, Sweden and the Czech Republic, was sixth with 19 points.
TEAM CANADA - 56 points (7 first-place votes)
TEAM RUSSIA - 48 points
TEAM SWEDEN - 42 points
TEAM USA - 37 points
TEAM NORTH AMERICA - 29 points
TEAM EUROPE - 19 points
TEAM FINLAND - 17 points
TEAM CZECH REPUBLIC - 8 points
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