Surprise: Pierre Edouard-Bellemare, F, Philadelphia Flyers
One might assume Edouard-Bellemare is a youngster, as he hasn’t been around the NHL very long. But he’s actually 31 years old and in his second big-league season. There’s a reason for this: He’s not that good. He has 26 points in 155 regular-season games and a 47.4 faceoff success percentage to boot. There’s not much to be excited about here as far as seeing the guy in an international tournament.
Snub: Nikolaj Ehlers, F, Winnipeg Jets
On a pretty bad Jets squad this season, Ehlers was an exciting, young bright spot. He potted 38 points in 72 games in what was his first NHL season and quickly worked his way up Winnipeg’s lines. He has a penchant for fancy plays and strong stickhandling, and he’s just over 20 years old. I want to see this guy play against some of the world’s best.
Team United States
Surprise: Jack Johnson, D, Columbus Blue Jackets
I feel bad bashing on Johnson at this point, considering his parents are giant, giant tools, but he really shouldn’t be on this roster. His play has deteriorated considerably when it should be peaking (14 points in 60 games this season), and there other guys I’d rather see in such an exhibition than Johnson.
Snub: Nick Leddy, D, New York Islanders
I would much rather see a guy like Leddy, a puck-moving defenseman who really can fly around the ice. Leddy netted 40 points in 81 regular-season games while eating tons of minutes (22:37 ATOI, highest in his career to date). At just 25, Leddy should be an impact player in this league for years to come. How he couldn’t find his way into this game is beyond me. Phil Kessel is a very close second in this race, and probably the snub “winner” if it wasn’t easier for me to replace a defenseman on the current roster.
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Team North America
Surprise: Auston Matthews, F, Zurich
This isn’t a surprise because of Matthews’ talent level, as the guy is projected to go first overall in the upcoming NHL draft. It’s more a surprise because those in charge of picking this team decided to go with Matthews over a current NHL talent under age 23 (by Oct. 1). Sure, Matthews, will be on the verge of starting his NHL career when this tournament begins, but it’s quite an honor to be bestowed upon the kid so soon. Not calling this a bad decision, just a bit of a surprise.
I think Team North America’s roster is the second best in this tournament (Team Finland takes top honors). Plus, it is amazingly difficult to find more guys who qualify for this team that should actually be on it over those selected. Everyone you think is under age 23 is either right at it or much older than anticipated. Really nice job by those picking this team.
Surprise: Jake Muzzin, D, Los Angeles Kings
Snub: P.K. Subban, D, Montreal Canadiens
What. The. Hell. What is this? Other than Subban turning down a World Cup spot, how did this happen? It’s not even the first time something like this has occurred, as Subban was a scratch in the 2014 Winter Olympics for Team Canada.
I know Subban rubs some people the wrong way on the ice, but the dude won the Norris Trophy three years ago. He’s one of the league’s top defensemen and is currently entering, if not already in, his prime playing years. Muzzin is a fine blueliner in his own right, but no one is ever biting their nails trying to decide between picking Subban or Muzzin in any sort of fantasy hockey draft.