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Seven Rangers Head to World Championships

Kreider, Zibanejad, Buchnevich among Blueshirts in Denmark

by Matt Calamia @MattCalamia /

The Rangers' season may have come to an end, but there's still hockey to be played for several Blueshirts at the 2018 IIHF World Hockey Championships starting Friday in Denmark.

Six current Rangers and one prospect were named to initial rosters and will represent their countries at the 16-nation event that runs through May 20. More players will be added to rosters as teams get eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Team USA

Forward Chris Kreider will return to Team USA after a seven-year absence, while Neal Pionk will represent the country at his first major tournament.

Kreider appeared in two World Junior Championships and two World Championships, coincidentally both coming in 2010 and 2011. Kreider was an integral part of Team USA's gold medal-winning squad at the 2010 World Juniors when he scored six goals and added an assist in the seven games. He followed it up with a bronze medal a year later, posting four goals and six points in six games.

The Boxford, MA.-native had a goal and an assist in six games with Team USA at the 2010 World Championships following his freshman season at Boston College. A year later, he had two goals and an assist in seven contests. The United States did not medal in either tournament.

Pionk skated for Team USA at the 2013 World Junior A Under 19 Challenge, where he had a pair of assists in four contests. Pionk, 22, had a goal and 13 assists in 28 games as a rookie for the Rangers this season.

Other notable NHLers on Team USA are Chicago's Patrick Kane, Detroit's Dylan Larkin and Calgary's Johnny Gaudreau, as well as 2018 NHL Draft prospect Quinn Hughes.

Team USA opens the tournament Friday against Canada at 10:15 am EST, and will be broadcast on NHL Network.


Mika Zibanejad returns to the international stage for the first time snice scoring one of the biggest goals in his country's history. He'll be joined by teammate Lias Andersson, who is wearing the blue and yellow for the second time in 2018.

Zibanejad last played for Sweden at the 2012 World Junior Championships, about six months after he was taken sixth overall by the Ottawa Senators. The center posted four goals and added an assist in the tournament, but no goal was bigger than his overtime-winner in the gold medal game against Russia to give Sweden its second title victory, and first since 1981.

Andersson, meanwhile, skated for Sweden just five months ago when he captained its World Junior team to a silver medal finish in Buffalo. The 19-year-old turned in a strong tournament with six goals and an assist in seven games. 

The 2017 seventh-overall pick had three goals in seven games at the 2017 World Junior tournament, and had previously skated in the Under-18 World Junior Championship tournament.

Forwards Gustav Nyquist from Detroit, and Rickard Rakell from Anaheim, as well as defensemen John Klingberg of Dallas and Oliver Ekman-Larsson of Arizona, round out Sweden's roster.

The tournament begins for Sweden Friday against Belarus at 2:15 pm EST.


Winger Pavel Buchnevich and goaltender prospect Igor Shesterkin will share the ice with Russia, who's 27 gold medals at the tournament are the most of any country.

Buchnevich has a long history of representing Russia at international tournaments, though this marks his first time at the Worlds. The 23-year-old has three goals and 13 points in 14 career World Junior Games, and captured a bronze in 2014, and a silver the following year in 2015. Buchnevich won a gold medal at the 2012 U17 World Championships.

Like Buchnevich, Shesterkin has appeared at several international events, including as part of the gold medal-winning Olympic Athletes of Russia at the 2018 Winter Olympics in February, though he did not appear in a game.

The netminder has been part of two bronze-winning Russian World Championship squads, and helped lead Russia to a silver medal at the 2015 World Junior Championships when he posted a 1.98 GAA and a .938 SV % in five games at the tournament.

Shesterkin, 22, went 20-4-4 with a 1.70 GAA, a .933 SV% and seven shutouts with SKA of the Kontinental Hockey League last season.

Buchnevich and Shesterkin join NHLers Artem Anisimov and Nikita Zaitsev, as well as former NHL star Pavel Datsyuk to begin the tournament.

Russia faces France Friday at 10:15 am EST.

Czech Republic

Filip Chytil earned a spot on the Czech Republic's initial roster after he posted two goals and four points at the World Junior Championships back in January. The 2017 first-round pick had five points in five games last year for his country at the Under-18 World Juniors.

Joining Chytil are Tomas Plekanec of Toronto, Philadelphia's Radko Gudas and Carolina prospect Martin Necas.

Chytil and the Czechs open the tournament against Slovakia at 2:15 pm EST on Saturday.

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