At least seven Washington Capitals players will represent their home countries when the World Cup of Hockey returns in September following a 12-year break.
Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dmitry Orlov were selected to play for Russia, T.J. Oshie and John Carlson were named to the United States team, Nicklas Backstrom will once again play for Sweden and Braden Holtby will make his international debut in playing for Canada in the two-week tournament, which will be held in Toronto beginning in September.
“It’s huge honor, obviously, representing your country,” Ovechkin said on Tuesday after the Capitals’ 3-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. “Doesn’t matter which tournament. It’s huge honor. It’s nice to be in the list and I’m proud to represent my country.”
Ovechkin has extensive international experience, playing in the last World Cup in 2004, the world championships on seven occasions and the Olympics three times. Backstrom has played in the Olympics on three occasions and Carlson and Oshie each played for the U.S. in the Olympics in Sochi in 2014.
The event was last held in 2004, but was resurrected following an agreement between the NHL, the NHL Players Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation reached last year.
“It’s gonna be huge for us, for players, to be in that atmosphere,” Ovechkin said. “When you play in Canada, it’s something that you always dream and you always want. Just the atmosphere, the fans, the media. Like, everything is on the top, so it’s great for us to have that kind of time. Especially before the year, you have to go through training camp and you have to do all those kinds of things and all that kind of stuff, so it’s blessed.”
Holtby was chosen to play for Canada alongside the Montreal Canadiens’ Carey Price and Chicago Blackhawks’ Corey Crawford.
“It’s pretty cool,” Holtby said. “Obviously, it’s an honor. You don’t want to discount that, but it’s a long ways away so it’s hard to talk about it right now because it’s not on my mind right now. Only thing I can talk about is those two are fantastic professionals and goaltenders and it’ll be fun to play alongside them.”
Teams were required to submit lists of their first 16 players on Wednesday, with the remaining seven players to be selected by June 1. Washington is among the cities that will host exhibition games for the eight-team tournament in September.
The U.S. will be led by Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and feature a blue line with Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers.
Canada will have a very familiar feel for coach Mike Babcock as 12 of the first 16 players selected to the roster won gold with him at the Olympics in 2014, including goaltender Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens.
Team North America, made up of American and Canadian players age 23 and under, has the past three No. 1 picks in the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid, the Florida Panthers’ Aaron Ekblad and the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon.
The Tampa Bay Lightning had 10 players selected to teams, while the Blackhawks will be represented in the tournament by nine players. The Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings joined the Capitals with seven players selected.
⦁ A report from the Associated Press was included in this story.