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World Cup: Projected Team Europe roster

Gaborik, Greiss highlight possible final seven players added

by David Satriano @davidsatriano / NHL.com Staff Writer

A number of players who were named to Team Europe's initial roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey played in the 2016 IIHF World Championship in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia. But most of them didn't play on the same team. 

The initial 16-player roster named in March consisted of players outside of the four European countries that were sending national teams -- Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden -- included players from seven different countries. Five were from Slovakia, four from Denmark, two each from Germany and Switzerland, and one each from Slovenia, Norway and Austria.

With that much unfamiliarity between players, general manager Miroslav Satan and coach Ralph Krueger have a difficult task of building a roster that consists of experience as well as young stars in the game. Four of the first 16 are age 35 or older (defensemen Zdeno Chara, 39; Mark Streit, 38; Dennis Seidenberg, 34; and forward Marian Hossa, 37), and two players are 25 or younger (forwards Leon Draisaitl, 20, and Tomas Tatar, 25).

It's anyone's guess how Team Europe will fare in the tournament, considering the players will have far less experience playing together than many of the other teams.

Here's NHL.com's projection of the final seven players on the roster, which will be announced Friday:

THE FINAL 7

F: Marian Gaborik (Los Angeles Kings, Slovakia), Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild, Switzerland), Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres, Latvia), Nikolaj Ehlers (Winnipeg Jets, Denmark)

D: Luca Sbisa (Anaheim Ducks, Switzerland), Christian Ehrhoff (Chicago Blackhawks, Germany)

G: Thomas Greiss (New York Islanders, Germany)

Gaborik sustained a knee injury in February but returned during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He should be on the top line with fellow Slovak Marian Hossa and Kings teammate Anze Kopitar.

Niederreiter tied for the lead in goals (three) and was second in points (six) with Switzerland at the World Championship. The 6-foot-2, 211-pound forward could join the 6-1, 203-pound Girgensons and the 6-1, 195-pound Jannik Hansen (Vancouver Canucks) on a physical fourth line. 

That likely would leave Ehlers, who had 15 goals and 23 assists in 72 games as a rookie in 2015-16, as the 13th forward.

On defense, Sbisa likely will be the sixth defenseman. He sustained an upper-body injury in March but should be ready for the Sept. 17 start of the World Cup. He is a shut-down, stay-at-home defender and could find a spot on the third pairing with Mark Streit (Philadelphia Flyers), a fellow Switzerland native.

Ehrhoff had 12 points in 48 regular-season games with the Kings and Blackhawks, and was a healthy scratch during Chicago's seven-game Western Conference First Round series. But his experience makes him a quality seventh defenseman for this tournament.

Greiss' postseason performance earned him a spot. He outplayed Halak, his Islanders teammate, for most of the season. Greiss' 41 regular-season games was a personal NHL-high. He started all 11 Islanders playoff games, had a .923 save percentage and helped them win a playoff series for the first time since 1993. Greiss should be the backup goalie to Frederik Andersen (Anaheim Ducks).

Potential lineup

Forwards

Marian Gaborik - Anze Kopitar - Marian Hossa

Tomas Tatar - Leon Draisaitl - Mats Zuccarello

Thomas Vanek - Frans Nielsen - Mikkel Boedker

Nino Niederreiter - Zemgus Girgensons - Jannik Hansen

Nikolaj Ehlers

Defensemen

Zdeno Chara - Dennis Seidenberg

Andrej Sekera - Roman Josi

Mark Streit - Luca Sbisa 

Christian Ehrhoff

Goalies

Frederik Andersen

Thomas Greiss

Jaroslav Halak

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