Seven Flames Gunning For World Cup Spots

The hockey world was abuzz yesterday with the unveiling of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey groupings and schedule for the September 2016 tournament. The groupings, along with further clarifications of the team qualification rules and discussions of roster timelines, have folks chattering about which players around the league may be going to the event.

There will be teams from Canada, the USA, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the rest of Europe, and a team featuring young stars from North America. Each team will send 23 player (3 goalies and 20 skaters) and they must name 16 players to their rosters by March 1, with the balance of their rosters set by June 1.

Here are seven Calgary Flames players that could be headed to Toronto next September to compete for the (World) Cup.

JONAS HILLER

Team Europe

Last season, there were three goalies that would qualify for Team Europe that won a ton of games in the NHL. Jaroslav Halak (38 wins) is Slovakian. Frederik Andersen (35 wins) is Danish. Hiller, a product of Switzerland, won 26 games. The next-best goalie in their category won 9 games. Barring an utter collapse, Hiller should get one of the three Team Europe spots, especially considering his Olympic experience.

MARK GIORDANO

Team Canada

Giordano has been one of the NHL’s top offensive defensemen over the past two seasons. If not for a pair of poorly-timed injuries, there’s a very strong chance he’d be a Norris Trophy winner by now. One of the top Canadian players in the game and captain of a Canadian team, I’d be shocked if Giordano didn’t get one of the seven defensive spots on Team Canada. For what it’s worth, he’s on NHL.com’s projected roster, as well as TSN’s.

JIRI HUDLER & MICHAEL FROLIK

Team Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has a bunch of talented forwards currently plying their trade in the NHL. Of those, Hudler was behind only Jakub Voracek in scoring last season, and Frolik was seventh among Czech forwards in points himself. Now, Hudler’s a lock and I’m pretty sure Frolik can step in and anchor the bottom-six grouping for the Czechs. He’s not a sure thing, though, but he’s got a good shot. (If Jaromir Jagr ever retires, Frolik may stand a better chance, but don’t count on that ever happening.)

MONAHAN, GAUDREAU & HAMILTON

Team North America

Okay, Edmonton Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli is putting together this club, featuring the best players from North American born October 2, 1992 or later – it’s the Under-23 Team, basically. He may be tempted to load up with the uber-talented players he has up in Edmonton. Well, some of them, at least. But he’ll get an up-close look at the Flames this season, and the group here hasn’t lost a season series to the Oilers in quite some time. Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are developing some nice chemistry together, while Dougie Hamilton is expected to anchor the right side of Calgary’s defensive group.

Again, for what it’s worth, all three are on Craig Button’s projected roster over at TSN’s site.

Who’ll make their respective teams? And are their any Flames players – such as Sweden’s Mikael Backlund – that aren’t listed here that deserve some consideration?