Have you been deprived of Elias Pettersson dangles? Thankfully, it won’t be much longer until we can say “do your dekes, bro.”
The World Hockey Championships are scheduled to kick-off in Slovakia on Friday, May 10th, with Sweden as the top seed in Group B heading into the tournament. Pettersson will look to help Sweden bring home their third straight gold medal after being name to Team Sweden. Surely Canucks fans won’t be disappointed if Pettersson plays a large role there.
Pettersson was a part of Team Sweden last year when they won gold, but only played five games before breaking his thumb. He watched from the sidelines as Anders Nilsson led Sweden to gold.
Golden Boy gets Calder love
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, but Elias Pettersson was officially named as a final for the Calder Trophy on the weekend. While he didn’t keep up his Sidney Crosby/Alex Ovechkin-like pace in the second half, he still finished with an outstanding 28 goals and 66 points in 71 games.
He will be up against 25-year-old goaltender Jordan Binnington and 18-year-old defenceman Rasmus Dahlin for the Calder. Miro Heiskanen got the short end of the stick by missing out on nominations, but all four were worthy candidates.
While the Binnington train is picking up steam, realistically he’s just been able to close the gap. Rookie of the Year awards aren’t based on the playoffs, and 30 starts shouldn’t have him stealing votes from Pettersson.
Other Canucks at the Worlds
Pettersson won’t be the only Canuck to dabble in some delicious “bryndzove halusky” over in Slovakia.
He will be joined by two other Canucks on Team Sweden as well, as “Uncle” Loui Eriksson and Jacob Markstrom will suit up at the Worlds.
Is anyone else curious to see where Eriksson ends up on Team Sweden? Will head coach Rikard Grönborg put him with his Canucks teammate in Pettersson, or will he be relegated to the fourth line for “little things” duty?
After Nilsson went on an outstanding two-week run last year, it will be interesting to see what Markstrom has in store to match that. This is Markstrom’s fourth time representing Sweden at the World Hockey Championships. He was rock solid in 2010 and 2013, but posted a sub-900 save percentage in 2016.
For Team USA, two of the Canucks brightest young players will try to help their country win gold for the first time in this tournament since 1960.
Yep, 1960. I know you get a mis-mash of talent at the World, but even that seems like an incredibly long drought.
Goaltender Thatcher Demko and defenceman Quinn Hughes will both be part of the team that tries to bump that slump in Slovakia. The Worlds were somewhat of a coming out party for Hughes last season, when he looked comfortable against better competition as an 18-year-old.
In net, it’s not unreasonable to think that Demko won’t split starts with the other named U.S. netminder — Cory Schneider.
Last but not least, the best news among Canucks named to the World was hearing that Troy Stecher will represent Canada at the tournament. Stecher earned the nod after playing reliable top-four minutes in Vancouver for the third straight season. It will be interesting to see Stecher play on the bigger ice, which might be better suited to his game.
Hansen retires, Goldy replaces?
News broke last week that Jannik Hansen was retiring from hockey. He did go out on top of the hockey world in Europe by winning the KHL’s Gagarin Cup with CSKA Moscow. Hansen had eight goals in 21 points in 57 combined regular season and playoff games.
Hansen spent parts of 11 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, where he endeared himself as a hard-working bottom-six player who could occasionally chip in offence. He asserted himself in the line-up as the team was stripped of the 2011 core, hitting a career-high 22 goals in 2015-16.
LISTEN Jannik Hansen: Winning is why we play, and KHL championship good way to end career; told right away in Manitoba that needed to change his game to make NHL— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) April 30, 2019
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One interesting twist was that current Canuck RFA Nikolay Goldobin was rumoured to be going back to the KHL — and reportedly he was going to CSKA Moscow.
That would make sense since the championship-winning team is now missing a winger, but those reports were squashed. However, Nikolay Goldobin has changed his agent from Igor Larionov of Will Sports Group to Sergei Isakov of Newport Sports Management. Isakov came out to “clarify” the news of Goldobin going to the KHL.
Nikolay Goldobin’s agent Sergei Isakov says he did not sign in Russia and is going back to the #Canucks.— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) April 29, 2019
Goldobin had underwhelming end to the season, but it is possible that the Canucks bring him back on a cheap deal. However, the money he would make in his native country of Russia has to be tempting for the 23-year-old.