NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Islanders goalies Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak will be teammates again in the World Cup of Hockey.
Greiss, who was instrumental in helping the Isles win their first playoff series in 23 years this season, was among the final additions to Team Europe’s roster Friday. The German joins Halak, of Slovakia, and fellow Islander Frans Nielsen, of Denmark, on the squad.
Meanwhile, Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel was left off the U.S. roster, while 18-year-old Auston Matthews was among Team North America’s final selections Friday.
The Czech Republic couldn’t convince Jaromir Jagr to compete. And the NHL is questioning Russia for adding defenseman Slava Voynov in light of the domestic violence charges that ended his career with the Los Angeles Kings.
As for Canada, Joe Thornton earned his way back onto the national team after helping the San Jose Sharks make their first Stanley Cup final appearance. The 36-year-old’s play on the wing gave him the edge over two-time Olympic gold-medal-winner Corey Perry of the Anaheim Ducks.
“He has been dominant,” Canadian general manager Doug Armstrong said by phone. “He was excellent against us in St. Louis here in the playoffs and he’s played like that for a while.”
There were several surprise additions and omissions when the eight teams revealed the final seven additions to their 23-player rosters for the tournament Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto.
The most notable came early in the day when Russia included Voynov, who remains suspended indefinitely by the NHL. Voynov pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence and voluntarily returned to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League last summer.
“We will obviously have to review his status with the Players’ Association prior to the start of the tournament in September,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “It is not my current expectation that this player will be deemed eligible to play in the World Cup of Hockey.”
The NHLPA, which is co-hosting the World Cup with the NHL, said it will review Voynov’s status with the league.
Kessel is a two-time Olympian and 10-year NHL veteran, who was passed over despite enjoying a strong postseason in which he’s leading the Stanley Cup Final-bound Penguins with nine goals and 18 points.
The John Tortorella-coached team filled the final four forward U.S. spots with Columbus’ Brandon Dubinsky, Toronto’s James van Riemsdyk, Tampa Bay’s Ryan Callahan and St. Louis captain David Backes. The remaining defense spots went to Colorado’s Erik Johnson, Columbus’ Jack Johnson and Washington’s Matt Niskanen.
Thornton and Sharks teammate, defenseman Brent Burns, were among the players added to Canada, with the most notable omissions being Perry and Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban. Canada went with left-handed defenseman Jake Muzzin of the Los Angeles Kings and righty Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues.
Muzzin and Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand were the biggest surprises.
“I love (Marchand’s) tenacity, his willingness to play in the hard areas, very good board player,” Armstrong said. “He certainly earned the right with his style of play, but also he’s just a heck of a hockey player.”
Matthews’ selection to Team North America comes after he led the fourth-place finishing Americans with seven goals and 11 points at the world championships played in Russia this past month. From Scottsdale, Arizona, Matthews is ranked by NHL Central Scouting as the top-eligible draft prospect after spending last season playing professionally in Switzerland.
At the world championships, “he was a difference-maker,” North American GM Peter Chiarelli said by phone. “We couldn’t ignore it.”
The North American team consists of American- and Canadian-born players 23 and younger. Players also making the final cut were Tampa Bay’s Jonathan Drouin, Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.
Like Matthews, Drouin needed a strong showing to earn a spot and did just that during the Lightning’s run to the Eastern Conference final.
Jagr’s omission didn’t come as a surprise. Jagr retired from the national team after last year’s world championship and was not included in the first 16 players for the Czech’s World Cup squad announced March 2.
But Czech Republic general manager Martin Rucinsky and coach Josef Jandac hoped the 44-year-old would change his mind after leading the Florida Panthers with 66 points (27 goals, 39 assists) in 79 games.
The most notable addition for the Czech Republic was Dallas Stars forward Ales Hemsky.
Including Voynov, Russia filled its final four forward spots with KHL players: Evgeny Dadonov, Vadim Shipachyov and Ivan Telegin.
Sweden bolstered an already deep and talented lineup with Nashville’s Mattias Ekholm landing the final defensive spot ahead of Dallas’ John Klingberg, who ranked fifth among NHL blue-liners with 58 points last season.
Sweden assistant coach Peter Popovic said there was no debate between Ekholm and Klingberg. He said team officials felt they already had enough offensive defensemen with Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson already on the roster.
Ekholm earned the nod because he’s a more well-rounded defenseman and is able to fill various roles, including killing penalties.
Popovic said most of the debate centered on filling out the final five forward spots, with Pittsburgh teammates Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin making the cut in part because of strong playoff performances for the Cup final-bound Penguins.
The most notable addition to Finland’s roster was forward Patrik Laine. The 18-year-old is considered a top NHL draft prospect after he was named the World Hockey championships MVP in helping Finland win silver last weekend.
Team Europe, consisting of players from countries not represented, most notably added a couple of veterans: Los Angeles forward Marian Gaborik and Chicago defenseman Christian Ehrhoff.
Other local players competing in the World Cup, who were previously announced, are Rangers forward J.T. Miller (North America), Islanders forward John Tavares (Canada), Rangers forward Derek Stepan (USA), Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh (USA), Devils goalie Cory Schneider (USA), Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello (Europe), Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist (Sweden) and Islanders forward Nikolay Kulemin (Russia).
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