Vancouver Canucks World Cup Preview: Team Europe

Sep 8, 2016; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; Team Europe head coach Ralph Krueger looks at the scoreboard during the second period of the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game against Team North America at Videotron Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2016; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; Team Europe head coach Ralph Krueger looks at the scoreboard during the second period of the World Cup of Hockey pre-tournament game against Team North America at Videotron Centre. Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports /

The Vancouver Canucks will have six players competing in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, including four that will suit up for Team Europe.

Vancouver Canucks forward Jannik Hansen and defenseman Luca Sbisa both have tons of international experience with Team Denmark and Team Switzerland, respectively. Therefore, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will be nothing new for the duo. Except for the fact that it will be entirely new for both of them.

Instead of representing their respective home countries, they will suit up for Team Europe this time around. According to data from the Spring 2015 Eurobarometer report, 65 percent of the Danish population at least partly identify themselves as European. Switzerland, on the other hand, is so un-European, they are one of the very few Western European countries that don’t want to join the European Union. So who knows how much players like Hansen and Sbisa actually care about Team Europe.

From a hockey standpoint, things don’t look too bright either. Team Europe may have the most to prove, but along with the Czech Republic, their roster clearly has the least quality. They might be better than, say, Team Germany or Switzerland, but whether Team Europe was actually a good idea remains to be seen.

Projected Lineup


Mikkel Boedker (DEN) — Anze Kopitar (SLO) — Mats Zuccarello (NOR)
Tomas Tatar (SVK) — Frans Nielsen (DEN) — Marian Hossa (SVK)
Marian Gaborik (SVK) — Leon Draisaitl (GER) — Nino Niederreiter (SUI)
Tobias Rieder (GER) — Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (FRA) — Jannik Hansen (DEN)
Thomas Vanek (AUT)

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Team Europe does not have as much high-end talent as most other teams do. Instead, they made sure to select a very strong two-way group, headlined by 2016 Selke Trophy winner Anze Kopitar. Tomas Tatar, Frans Nielsen, Marian Hossa, Tobias Rieder and Jannik Hansen all excel at both ends of the rink. But, of course, there is enough offensive talent as well.

Kopitar finished the 2015-16 season with 25 goals and 74 points, Zuccarello, Hansen, Tatar, Nielsen and Nino Niederreiter all finished the year with at least 20 goals. Team Europe can score, they just need to find a way to play well together, and find chemistry as quickly as possible.

If they want to beat some of the tournament favourites, they will have to do so using their speed and two-way ability. With an average age of 30.3 years, Team Europe is the oldest team in the tournament, but they still have enough speed in the lineup. The big question is whether they can keep up with even faster teams, like Team North America.


Zdeno Chara (SVK) — Roman Josi (SUI)
Andrej Sekera (SVK) — Mark Streit (SUI)
Christian Erhoff (GER) — Luca Sbisa (SUI)
Dennis Seidenberg (GER)

On defense, the situation might be even worse. Zdeno Chara was once the best defenseman in the world, but is now 39 years old and steadily declining. His D-partner Roman Josi is the new star on the blue line and he keeps getting better. But he can’t carry the team all by himself, even as the NHL’s fourth-best scorer in the 2015-16 campaign.

Behind that, Team Europe has a pairing of Andrej Sekera and Mark Streit. Aged 30 and 38, respectively, they are an experienced duo as well. But they are also on the decline. Sekera and Streit would get nowhere near making Team Canada, USA or Sweden, and they show the lack of defensive depth on Team Europe.

The remaining three D-men are German free agents Christian Ehrhoff and Dennis Seidenberg, and Vancouver Canuck Luca Sbisa. Ehrhoff and Seidenberg are still in search of a club for the upcoming season, so they will be motivated to have a good World Cup. But that’s the only positive here.


Jaroslav Halak (SVK)
Thomas Greiss (GER)
Philipp Grubauer (GER)

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When the skaters can’t keep up with the other teams, you need goalies that stand on their heads every night. Unfortunately, Team Europe’s starter Frederik Andersen had to skip out of the tournament and was replaced by Philipp Grubauer. With that, the likely starter is Jaroslav Halak, but Thomas Greiss should get a decent chance at the job as well, after being one of the NHL’s top goalies last season — backing up the injured Halak for the New York Islanders.

In 2015-16, Greiss posted a .925 save percentage through 41 regular-season games, and he kept it up with a .923 save percentage in 11 playoff contests. However, Halak is more experienced both at the NHL and international levels, which could be enough to give him the starting job.

But let’s not forget about Grubauer either. The Washington Capitals backup was outstanding for Team Germany in the Olympic qualifiers, posting two shutouts in three games. If Team Europe wants experience, they should go with Halak. But if they want a goalie on a hot streak, they should go with either one of the German goalies.

The Schedule

Exhibition Games

Team North America 
Thursday, September 8; 8 p.m. ET — Videotron Centre, Quebec City

Team North America
Sunday, September 11; 6 p.m. ET — Bell Centre; Montreal

Team Sweden
Wednesday, September 14; 7 p.m. ET — Verizon Center; Washington, DC

World Cup

Team USA
Saturday, September 17; 3:30 p.m. ET

Team Czech Republic
Monday, September 19; 3 p.m. ET

Team Canada
Wednesday, September 21; 8 p.m. ET


Game 1 against Team USA will be a tough one. Like all other games Team Europe has to (or gets to?) play. Chances are, it will be the first loss of quite likely at least two.
Prediction: 3-1 L

Next: Team Sweden Preview

Team Europe and Team Czech Republic are widely considered the worst teams in the tournament. Luckily for them, they will be in the same group. The team that beats the other only needs one more win to advance to the semi finals. Or, they finish third and fourth in their group. Either way, this will be Europe’s best chance to snag a win.
Prediction: 3-2 W

If everything goes as expected, Team Europe will have a maximum of two points going into Game 3. Hence, they will need a win against Team Canada — which just isn’t going to happen.
Prediction: 5-0 L

Overall Prediction: 3rd in Group A