While our beloved Islanders are battling for limited roster spots on the team right now, it has probably occured to some of them that they will be battling for limited spots once again when the 2016 World Cup of Hockey rolls around. The World Cup of Hockey will be huge, so it will be pretty cool seeing some Islanders playing for their respective nations. Let’s take a look at some of the current Islanders who have a shot at making a team in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
J.T. has already won four gold medals in major international tournaments with Team Canada. That includes two World Junior Championships, a Spengler Cup and the Sochi Olympics. As one of the best players in the league, Tavares will be pretty hard to pass up.
A lock for Team Europe. He will act as a role player on a team with typically a lot of scorers.
Another lock to make Team Europe if no other goalie comes out of nowhere. Him, Frederik Andersen and Jonas Hiller will make up a serious triple threat.
I would consider him a lock for Team USA, but the team could be really competitive next year. That, along with Okposo’s injury history might keep him off the team. However, I doubt it.
If he continues his production from last season, he will make Team North America.
Kulemin played for Russia at the Sochi Olympics and will need to prove he can make the team again. Although KHLers will likely not be able to play, he has new competition from North American arrivals Artemi Panarin and Sergei Plotnikov.
He made Team USA’s young 2015 World Championships team and was able to help them reach bronze. If he continues to increase his production again this year, he could make the 2016 team.
If Grabovski performs has a decent 30 to 40-point season with the Islanders, he will be considered for Team Europe (everyone not from Russia, USA, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland and Sweden). The German-born Belarussian has experience has experience playing in several international tournaments with Belarus.
He won’t be eligible for Team North America, so Lee will have to try to make Team USA. Competition will obviously be tougher, but if he plays with Tavares this year, he will likely score more points and have more ice time, a definite plus.
If he does not retire by then, Zidlicky has a shot at making Czech Republic’s defence.
Despite never yet playing a game for the Islanders so far, Barzal should still be considered a fringe candidate to make Team North America (the team of under-25s from North America). He has had a good training camp so far and actually has a good chance of making the team now. The most likely scenario for Barzal this season will likely see him play a couple games at the start of the season with the Islanders before getting sent back to junior just to get his feet wet, but if everything goes right for him this year, he should be considered.
Who knows? Maybe Team Canada is looking for more guys like Boychuk who can play a solid third-line role. Boychuk can adjust.