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World Cup

Surprises among World Cup additions, omissions

Muzzin, Matthews made rosters; Perry, Subban, Klingberg, Kovalchuk among those who didn't

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

The final seven players for each of the eight teams participating in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey were revealed Friday. Some big names were included and some were nowhere to be found.

The tournament, which will be held at Air Canada Centre in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct 1, will bring plenty of excitement and intrigue. The rosters release Friday started plenty of debate.

1. Canada's defense shakeup

Welcome Jake Muzzin. Sorry P.K. Subban and Kris Letang.

Muzzin was the most shocking name to appear on Team Canada's roster. It's not that the Los Angeles Kings defenseman isn't deserving. It's just that Subban (Montreal Canadiens) and Letang (Pittsburgh Penguins) are bigger names and were listed on many projected rosters while Muzzin was not.

But a deeper dive shows reasons why Muzzin was selected over Subban and Letang.

Video: SJS@LAK, Gm1: Muzzin draws out Jones, banks in puck

Muzzin is a left-handed shot; Subban and Letang are right-shots. Team Canada coach Mike Babcock (Toronto Maple Leafs) is big on a lefty-righty balance. Alex Pietrangelo (St. Louis Blues) and Brent Burns (San Jose Sharks), both righties, were the other two additions to Team Canada's defense. Muzzin gives Babcock the opportunity to have three balanced pairs, with a righty as his seventh defenseman.

Muzzin has a history of playing with Drew Doughty in Los Angeles. Their chemistry had to be part of the thinking between Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong (St. Louis Blues) and Babcock.

There is less risk in Muzzin's game than there is in Letang's or Subban's, and Babcock prefers safer defenseman in international tournaments, where one goal could be the difference between winning gold or getting knocked out early.

Muzzin also is a strong possession player. He was third among NHL defensemen to play at least 25 games in shot-attempts percentage (SAT) this season at 57.45 percent.

Video: ANA@WSH: Perry opens scoring on wrap-around

2. Perry passed over

Corey Perry (Anaheim Ducks) captained Canada to the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship last week but was left off Team Canada's World Cup roster.

Perry was ninth in the League with 34 goals this season, and his 110 goals the past three seasons are tied for third in the League. He also helped Canada win the gold medal at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. 

In Perry's place, Armstrong and Babcock went with Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux, a right-handed shot who can play center or the wing.

Giroux most likely will play on the wing in the World Cup, considering almost every other forward Team Canada has can play center too, including Joe Thornton, who was named to the roster two days after leading the San Jose Sharks to their first Stanley Cup Final.

Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand and Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Duchene also were named to Team Canada. Marchand could play with Patrice Bergeron, as he does in Boston. Duchene might be the 13th forward.

Video: CBJ@TOR: Dubinsky scores twice in Blue Jackets' win

3. Team USA's bombshells

Team USA general manager Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles Kings) and coach John Tortorella (Columbus Blue Jackets) had some surprises with their final seven selections.

Penguins right wing Phil Kessel and Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson didn't make it. But Lightning right wing Ryan Callahan and Blue Jackets center Brandon Dubinsky did. Team USA also added Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk and Blues forward David Backes. Both played for the U.S. at the 2014 Olympics.

Judging from the five forwards added Friday and the first eight selected in March, most surprisingly Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings, it's clear that Lombardi and Tortorella envision Team USA as being a big, physical, hard team.

The question is will they have enough skill to win against Team Canada, Team Sweden, Team Russia and even Team North America, which is loaded with young talent. Team USA looks powerful, but they also need to be productive.

Video: WSH@BOS: Niskanen rips one past Rask to win it in OT

4. Even more surprises from Team USA

The Team USA surprises weren't limited to the forwards. There were some unpredictable picks on defense as well, with Erik Johnson (Avalanche), Jack Johnson (Blue Jackets) and Matt Niskanen (Washington Capitals) selected to the team.

Among those passed over were 2014 Olympians Kevin Shattenkirk (Blues), Cam Fowler (Ducks), Justin Faulk (Carolina Hurricanes) and Paul Martin (Sharks).

Keith Yandle (New York Rangers), Torey Krug (Bruins) and Nick Leddy (New York Islanders), all strong skaters and puck movers, also did not make the team.

Video: TBL@PIT, Gm7: Drouin whips puck past Murray

5. Matthews, Drouin make it; Galchenyuk does not

Auston Matthews, who is projected to be taken by the Toronto Maple Leafs with the No. 1 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, will get his first taste of Toronto and Air Canada Centre in September. The pressure will be on, especially if the Maple Leafs do take him.

Matthews definitely helped his cause at the World Championship, where he led the U.S. with six goals in 10 games.

Considering where Jonathan Drouin's career appeared to be going a few months ago, it's remarkable he found his way back to not only be a top-six forward with the Lightning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but to be selected for the Team North America roster.

The major surprise from Team North America's seven additions was the player who didn't make it.

Many thought Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk would be a lock, but with Drouin's resurgence and Matthews proving himself at the World Championship, he was left off.

6. Laine on, Puljujarvi off Team Finland's roster

With three forward spots available Team Finland had a tough choice. Go with three top prospects or two and one proven NHL player? They chose the latter, so top 2016 NHL Draft prospect Patrik Laine made it and fellow draft prospect Jesse Puljujarvi did not.

Like Matthews, Laine's play at the World Championship likely raised his stock. He tied for the tournament lead with seven goals in 10 games and was named the most valuable player after helping Finland win the silver medal.

Puljujarvi didn't play in the World Championship, an indication that Finland's top hockey minds don't believe he's quite ready to compete at the highest level.

Sebastian Aho, a top prospect for the Carolina Hurricanes who turns 19 on July 26, also made it for Finland. He had seven points at the World Championship. Aho was a 2015 second-round pick (No. 35).

Minnesota Wild center Erik Haula was also added to add forward depth.

7. Russia's omissions

Russia had three forward spots to fill. Two of those spots were expected to go to former NHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Radulov. Even though Russia didn't name them to the initial 16-man roster released in March, there was no chance it could leave two of the best players in the country off of the final 23-man roster, right?

Wrong.

Instead the Russians went with three other forwards from the Kontinental Hockey League: Evgenii Dadonov, Vadim Shipachev and Ivan Telegin. Dadonov and Shipachev played with Kovalchuk with SKA St. Petersburg. Telegin plays for CSKA Moscow.

Even without Kovalchuk and Radulov the Russians are strong up front. No team that can roll out Alex Ovechkin (Capitals), Vladimir Tarasenko (Blues), Evgeni Malkin (Penguins), Nikita Kucherov (Lightning), Artemi Panarin (Blackhawks), Evgeny Kuznetsov (Capitals) and Pavel Datsyuk (Red Wings) can be considered weak.

But it's shocking not to see Kovalchuk and Radulov in that group.

Former Kings defenseman Slava Voynov was one of four additions on defense, along with Alexei Emelin (Canadiens), Alexey Marchenko (Red Wings) and Nikita Zaitsev (Maple Leafs).

Video: NSH@SJS, Gm2: Ekholm beats Jones from distance

8. Swedes look for defense

Team Sweden opted for extra defense as part of its seven roster additions. Instead of choosing Dallas Stars defenseman John Klingberg, they went with the safer Mattias Ekholm of the Nashville Predators. Ducks center Rickard Rakell was passed over for the checking presence that the Blackhawks' Marcus Kruger offers.

It's hard to criticize those decisions.

Team Sweden already has the unique skills of Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators) on defense, so the management group probably felt the team didn't need another defenseman who tries to play like him, which Klingberg does.

They have playmaking centers in Henrik Sedin (Vancouver Canucks), Nicklas Backstrom (Capitals) and Alexander Steen (Blues), so they felt they could pass on Rakell for someone who can thrive with defensive-zone responsibilities, including faceoffs. Kruger does that.

Team Sweden also added speed, skill and versatility with Carl Hagelin (Penguins), Patric Hornqvist (Penguins), Carl Soderberg (Avalanche) and Jakub Silfverberg (Ducks).

Team Sweden is going to be formidable in this tournament.

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