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World Cup Of Hockey Could Feature Wild Players

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

The World Cup of Hockey will make its return in 2016 after a 12-year hiatus. On Wednesday, the NHL announced more information about the tournament including dates, country groupings and management teams.

The tournament will feature eight teams: The United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Team Europe — a team made up of players of the other European countries — and Team North America — a team made up of the top 23-and-under North American players.

Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli and Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman will manage Team North America.

German Ice Hockey Federation President Franz Reindl was named the President/Team Leader of Team Europe, and former Slovakia captain Miroslav Satan was named General Manager of Team Europe.

With international experience already under their belts, some Wild players could be on their way to Toronto for the 2016 installment.

Forward Zach Parise and defensemen Ryan Suter will look to lengthen their resumes for USA Hockey. Parise was the captain of the 2014 Olympic team in Sochi, and also played for the 2010 team that won Silver. Suter also donned the Team USA sweater for each of those teams. Both Parise and Suter played for World Championship and World Junior teams for their country.

Parise famously scored the game-tying goal with 24 seconds remaining in the third period of the gold-medal game against Canada in 2010. The United States would go on to lose in overtime, 3-2.

The United States will play in a preliminary round group with Canada, the Czech Republic, and Team Europe.

Defenseman Jonas Brodin will be in the conversation when it comes to choosing a blue line for Sweden. Brodin had four assists for Sweden during the 2012 World Junior Championship, third-most on the team, helping Sweden to end a 31-year gold medal drought.

Sweden will be joined its group by Russia, Finland and Team North America.

Wild forwards Thomas Vanek and Nino Niederreiter each stand a good chance of making the team made up of the remaining European countries. Vanek (Austria) and Niederreiter (Switzerland) have each represented their respective countries in different international settings.

Finland could feature two Minnesota Wild forwards in Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund. Each player has experience playing for his country; Granlund, at 23, has played on many Finnish junior teams that have competed in international competition, as well as on two World Championship teams. Koivu has played three times for Finland in the Olympics (2006 and 2010) and led Finland with four assists in six games in 2010 when Finland won a Bronze Medal.

Granlund was also on the 2014 Olympic roster. Koivu pulled out of the tournament due to injury.

For Team North America, rookie defenseman Mike Reilly will be eligible to play and will attempt to crack a very talented group of defensemen. Other eligible players include 2015 Calder Trophy winner Aaron Ekblad, the Calgary Flames' Dougie Hamilton, the Nashville Predators' Seth Jones, and the Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba. To be eligible for this team, players must 23 or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.

Below is a schedule of the games:

Preliminary Round (round robin)

Saturday, Sept. 17
Team Europe vs. Team USA, 3:30 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 18
Team Russia vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Finland vs. Team North America, 8 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 19

Team Czech Republic vs. Team Europe, 3 p.m.
Team North America vs. Team Russia, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 20
Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 21
Team North America vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team Europe, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22

Team Finland vs. Team Russia, 3 p.m.
Team Czech Republic vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.

Semifinals (single elimination; A1 vs. B2, B1 vs. A2)

Saturday, Sept. 24
Semifinal 1, TBD

Sunday, Sept. 25
Semifinal 2, TBD

Final (best-of-three)

Tuesday, Sept. 27
Final Game 1, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29
Final Game 2, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 1
Final Game 3, 7 p.m. (if necessary)

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