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World Championships Roster Heating Up Back Burner

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Reports have begun to surface regarding players being asked to join the Canadian contingent at the IIHF World Hockey Championships.  The tournament begins on May 8th in Germany and the Canadian team is being managed by Mark Messier and coached by his ex-Oiler teammate Craig MacTavish.

According to a report from the St. Petersburg Times, Martin St. Louis has turned down an offer to participate, while Steven Stamkos and Steve Downie are both interested in participating.  The initial Canadian and American teams are predominantly selected from non-playoff NHL clubs, so this year that looks to be the likes of the Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Minnesota Wild, Dallas Stars, NY Islanders, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, St. Louis Blues, and Anaheim Ducks

Of interest to Leaf fans is who might be heading over from Toronto.  Luke Schenn featured on the team last season and may be asked to join again this year.  Similarly, Mikhail Grabovski suited up for Belarus a year ago and will likely take the opportunity to make up for his absence from the Olympics.  Carl Gunnarsson, Rickard Wallin, and Jonas Gustavsson all played for Sweden at last year's tourney and would likely take the opportunity again if offered.  Tomas Kaberle was the captain of the Czech side last year and he doesn't typically turn down the opportunity to represent his nation internationally.

On the prospect front, German defenseman Korbinian Holzer made the German Olympic team so he will very likely be featured on the blue line for their World Championship entry.  He may get a larger role with the likes of Christian Ehrhoff or Dennis Seidenberg likely playing in the NHL playoffs.

 

Dion Phaneuf has played in the NHL playoffs in every year of his career so far, so being on the outside looking in is a new experience for him.  He has been on Hockey Canada's radar for international play for years though, so he likely will get a shot to play if he wants it. 

Nikolai Kulemin was a last minute cut from last year's Russian team and was an alternate for the Russian's at the Olympics.  Considering this year's edition will probably be missing Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin, Evgeni Malkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, and Pavel Datsyuk for a while due to the playoffs, they could probably use a player like Kulemin to match up against his fellow NHLers from other countries.

Phil Kessel is another player that has seen playoff hockey during his entire NHL career and he'd likely take the chance to contribute in Germany for the US.  Unfortunately he is currently injured, so there is a chance that he'll be asked by the Leafs to rest and recuperate rather than play post-season hockey overseas.

Surprise participants may include the likes of Viktor Stålberg (SWE), Fredrik Sjostrom (SWE), Christian Hanson (USA), John Mitchell (CAN), or Francois Beauchemin (CAN).  Should the Leaf prospects playing in the Junior or NCAA ranks be offered a spot on any of the available sides, they might also be added.  Last year Mikhail Stefanovich suited up in a few games for Belarus, so a repeat of that is possible if Quebec is eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs.