Team Europe will have plenty of players to choose from when making its roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. General manager Miroslav Satan wasn't ready to name specific players yet after he named his scouting staff Thursday, but did say that he expects almost all of the roster to be comprised of NHL players.
"I think what we are looking at now is 50-plus players in the NHL who have some kind of European passport and belong to our team, so I think that's a big enough group to find our players. But having said that, we are not excluding European players," Satan said. "You never know what might happen. Injuries might happen or someone might have an unbelievable season over in the KHL and we might consider him. But I would say our primary focus will be NHL players.
"I think it's too early to talk about names right now. Everybody probably has in their head some surprises and we will probably discuss that internally [in the future]. But it's too early to mention anything public yet."
Satan, Team Europe president Franz Reindl, coach Ralph Krueger and assistant coach Paul Maurice, the coach of the Winnipeg Jets, will be assisted by Peter Bondra, Sean Burke, Lorne Henning, Vaclav Nedomansky and Ricky Olczyk, who were named as scouts. They have a little less than four months before the initial players need to be selected in March.
"We have up to March 1 to announce 16 players and we are going to use that time to collect as much information as we can and make the best decision we can," Satan said. "We're not going to name anybody before that."
Any European player who is not from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia or Sweden can be selected for Team Europe. But even though they have multiple countries to choose players from, that doesn't make the task any easier.
"We start from scratch. ... It's not just one country. It's international. We're very happy so far with what we have achieved," Reindl said. "We have great former players, managers, scouts on our team. And I'm really confident with these guys we can do a fair job to all the players, scouting the players and do what's best for the team. Our project is unique but we are very happy to have all these guys on board. It's a great honor to work together internationally for one team.
"There are a lot of names and together with the NHL and NHLPA; it's a joint venture. We're sitting there reflecting on all the names and we have experts in Miroslav, and Ralph helping us going through all the names. And finally we'll come down after long discussions to the right personnel."
Burke agreed with Satan about not speculating on the roster since the scouts have yet to sit down and discuss specific players.
"There's no need right now to throw any names out there," Burke said. "We are very fortunate, the guys that are on our list are quality, quality players and I don't think come tournament time we are going to question our goaltending. I think it will be a very strong point for our club.
"It's a tournament that is short. It's not an 82-game schedule. You have to have the team come together very quickly. When you look at a group of names, lots of things jump out at every one of us. But ultimately at the end of the day the goal for us in here is to build a team and come together very quickly and that's an exciting challenge."
Bondra played 16 seasons in the NHL and retired after the 2006-07 season. He said there's a core group of players he knows he'd like to be part of the team.
"The last time I looked at the list of names for potential players for Team Europe I counted 12 to 13 guys who I was either with those guys in the same locker room or I played against them, which will help the process here," Bondra said. "And Miro retired recently (2009-10 from the NHL)."
Satan said that all the scouts would have equal input on each member of the roster; Bondra, a former forward and Burke, a former goalie, will not be limited to picking players at their positions.
"We're not going to have one coach responsible for each position," Satan said. "We're all going to do the same job and everybody is going to try to submit his best possible lineup and we're going to talk and discuss about it. And in the end it will be a collective decision. We have a very strong group of hockey brains and I think we will come up with the right decisions in the end."
Reindl has been president of the German Ice Hockey Federation since July 2014 and was a player, coach and administrator for Germany. He's been involved in 29 World Championships, nine Olympic Winter Games and three World Cup tournaments. He won a silver medal with West Germany in the 1976 Innsbruck Olympics.
"It's a challenge, but it's great to have this opportunity," Reindl said. "It's such a wonderful project that everybody in Europe, they want to have representatives on our team. But we are not a political group; we're selecting players by how good they are and how good they fit. But everybody is excited and everyone wants to see their player or their nationality in our team, so this is kind of pressure but it's nice to have."