Dallas Stars forwards Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin and Texas Stars defenseman Esa Lindell were among the players named to initial rosters for the World Cup of Hockey 2016, which will be played this September in Toronto.
Benn and Seguin were among the nine forwards named to Canada’s initial roster, which also included four defensemen and three goaltenders. Benn has played for Canada at the World Juniors, World Championship and the 2014 Olympics, where he won a gold medal. Seguin played for Canada at last year’s World Championship, bringing home a gold medal. Now the two will play together at the World Cup.
“[Seguin] was on the radar screen for the last group of players for Sochi (Olympics 2014) and you look at him in the past two years, and he is one of the most dominant players in our game right now,” Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong said on Sportsnet. “He and Jamie Benn have found a great synergy. They have taken a market that was starving to get back in the playoff hunt. Dallas is a hockey market again, and it is led by those two players.”
Lindell was one of four defensemen named to Finland’s initial roster. Olli Maatta (Pittsburgh Penguins), Rasmus Ristolainen (Buffalo Sabres) and Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks) were the others. Lindell, Dallas’ third-round pick in 2012, is the only non-NHL player on Finland’s roster and one of only two AHL players on the eight initial rosters released today.
“It was determined on how Lindell played last season and that he was one of the best defensemen at the  World Championship,” Finland’s GM Jere Lehtinen told media. “He has had a big season in the AHL and a few games in NHL. He’d be in the NHL but Dallas has so many defensemen.”
One of the omissions from the initial rosters that raised a few eyebrows was Dallas defenseman John Klingberg not making Sweden’s initial 16, which included six defensemen: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Arizona Coyotes), Victor Hedman (Tampa Bay Lightning), Niklas Hjalmarsson (Chicago Blackhawks), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators), Niklas Kronwall (Detroit Red Wings), Anton Stralman (Tampa Bay Lightning).
Team Sweden GM Tommy Boustedt said Klingberg is being considered for the final roster and offered this explanation for the selections made on defense Wednesday.
“John Klingberg, of course, is one very strong contender for that seventh spot, but I think so far we have picked the best six defenders,” Boustedt told media. “When you're building a team, you can't only look at like having very skilled defensive D-men. You need some guys to block shots and shut down the opponent's best line and so on, and we have players that can do that, too. We have very offensive skilled D-men, as well, like an Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson, so far I think we have picked the six right names to build a strong team from behind from the D-man position.”
Each of the eight teams will have a tournament roster of 23 players ( 20 skaters and three goaltenders). The rest of each team’s roster will be announced no later than June 1.
The initial rosters announced Wednesday can be found here.
Who: USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Team North America*, Team Europe**
When: September 17-October 1, 2016
Format: The eight teams will be divided into two groups of four, and each will compete in three tournament games within their assigned Group in a round-robin format. The top two finishers in Group A and Group B will advance to a single-game semifinal, where the first-place team from each group will play an elimination game against the second-place team from the other group. Winners of the semifinal games will advance to a best-of-three final series.
TV coverage: ESPN in the U.S. and Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.
*Team North America will consist of top hockey players from Canada and the United States who are 23 or under as of Oct. 1, 2016.
**Team Europe will be made up of European players from birth countries outside of the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.