Hardly the Danes will be among the contenders for the World Championship gold medal, but in the recent history, they showed that they can produce quality players and a good team play. Traditionally, Jokerit has several players from Denmark in its roster, and in Slovakia, they will send three players to the national team, all with significant experience. The Danes missed the playoffs in the latest two WC editions and are now motivated to get back to the postseason. Salavat Yulaev’s Philip Larsen won’t have a chance to play his seventh IIHF WC.
For their home tournament, the Slovaks have called a very young roster with several debutants. Among them, it is possible to find Mario Lunter and Adam Liska. The two forwards had a tremendous 2018-19 campaign with Slovan, making significant steps forward in their development. Liska has also served as an alternate captain for the Slovaks at the 2019 WJC. Both Cajkovsky and Buc are veterans for Slovakia on the international stage and are expected to provide their team with leadership and experience. The Slovaks are missing the playoffs since 2013 (after reaching the finals one year before) and they will undoubtedly want to rebound back in front of the home crowd. The lineup features several players who played in the KHL in the past, and it’s not excluded that some of the current ones will line up for a KHL side next September.
KHL representatives: Kristers Gudlevskis, Uvis Balinskis, Kristaps Sotnieks, Kristaps Zile (all – Dinamo Riga), Arturs Kulda (Severstal), Miks Indrasis (HC Dynamo), Lauris Darzins, Gints Meija, Martins Dzierkals, Oskars Batnja, Emils Gegeris, Rihards Marenis (all – Dinamo Riga).
As it was expected, Dinamo Riga will give Latvia a high number of players. In total, twelve players will represent the League in Slovakia. The number should have been even higher, but Spartak Moscow’s forwards Martins Karsums and Kaspars Daugavins won’t join the team. A few players will debut at the WC, like Rihards Marenis, Oskars Batnja, and Martins Dzierkals. Riga had a good season in the KHL, and some players are clearly on the rise, like the aforementioned Dzierkals who, among other things, was the League’s rookie of the month for January. Last year, the Latvians climbed to the quarterfinals. This year, they have the potential to repeat the feat.
Even though the Leijonat didn’t bring their best names in Slovakia, the Finns are always among the teams to beat. Interestingly enough, all the captaincy slots are filled with KHL players: Marko Anttila will captain the team, while the alternate captains will be Jokerit’s newly signed Mikko Lehtonen and Veli-Matti Savinainen. HC Dynamo’s Miika Koivisto will add depth on the blue line. Moreover, in the Finnish roster, it is possible to meet some other familiar names, like Atte Ohtamaa, who won the 2018 Gagarin Cup with Ak Bars Kazan, and former Jokerit forward Jere Sallinen. Last year, the Finns suffered from a disappointing quarterfinal exit. They will undoubtedly try to get a better result this time around.
The Tre Kronor will bring Slovakia an excellent roster, with only three KHL representatives in Holm, Lander, and Rasmussen. The three played very well at the latest EHT stage in Brno, Czech Republic, and they will certainly help the team this time around as well. Anton Lander just moved to Lokomotiv on a two-year deal after playing in Kazan, while Dennis Rasmussen had a solid first season in the KHL with Magnitogorsk, where he scored 48 (14+34) points in the regular season. Philip Holm was a key figure for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod this year, and he is expected to perform well on the blueline for the national team as well. The Swedes won the latest two WCs in a row, do they have enough for an incredible three-peat?
At the recent EHT at home, the Czechs showed good hockey, and head coach Milos Riha is certainly trying to repeat the experience and possibly improving it to fight again for a medal at the upcoming World Championship. Amur’s newly signed forward Hynek Zohorna is at his debut with the team at the WC level. He recently signed in the Russian Far East to play with his brother Tomas, who is a veteran on the international stage. The team will feature players who lined up for KHL sides earlier on, like forward Jan Kovar. Chances are good that a few players from this team will find themselves a new team in the KHL for the next season.
KHL representatives: Ilya Sorokin, Artyom Blazhiyevsky, Nikita Nesterov (all – CSKA), Dinar Khafizullin, Artyom Zub (both – SKA), Sergei Andronov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Kirill Kaprizov, Ivan Telegin (all – CSKA), Alexander Barabanov, Sergei Plotnikov (both – SKA)
The Russians will have one of the best rosters in the tournament, with several world-class players like Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov. The KHL will bring to Slovakia eleven players, all of them lining up for either SKA or CSKA. These players have all played at the WC level before, and thus the experience is not a problem for the team led by SKA’s head coach Ilya Vorobyov. After two consecutive bronze medals in 2016 and 2017, last year the Russians suffered from a disappointing quarterfinal exit. The team has now at his disposal one of the top rosters overall in the recent years, and anything but at least a silver medal will be considered a failure.
Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Switzerland, and the USA did not call KHL players for the IIHF WC. The tournament will be held in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia, from May 10-25.