The World Cup of Hockey will make its return in 2016. On Wednesday, the NHL and NHLPA announced more information about the tournament including dates, groupings and some management teams.
The tournament will feature eight teams: The United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic, Team Europe — a team made up of players of the other European countries — and Team North America — a team made up of the top 23-and-under North American players.
Chicago Blackhawks General Manager Stan Bowman and Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli will manage Team North America. German Ice Hockey Federation President Franz Reindl was named the President/Team Leader of Team Europe, and former Slovakia captain Miroslav Satan was named General Manager of Team Europe.
With international experience already under their belts, some Blackhawks players could be on their way to Toronto for the 2016 World Cup.
Forward Jonathan Toews and defenseman Duncan Keith will look to add more gold to their Team Canada resumes. Both players won gold at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics, and silver at the 2008 World Championships. Toews won gold at the World Championships the year before, and became the 24th player of the Triple Gold Cup in 2010 after winning his first Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks.
Defenseman Brent Seabrook, who will be a unrestricted free agent after the 2015-16 season, also won gold at the 2010 Games, but was left off Canada's roster in 2014.
Canada plays in a preliminary round group with the United States, Czech Republic and Team Europe.
Forward Patrick Kane has represented USA Hockey on the podium three times. He debuted at the 2006 U18 WC, where he led the tournament with 12 points and won gold. The Buffalo native, moved up to the United States' U20 team the next year and earned bronze and all-star honors.
A lack luster fifth-place finish at the 2008 WC was forgotten when he scored three goals and two assists in six games for a silver medal finish at the 2010 Games. Four years later at the Games, Kane missed two penalty shots in the bronze medal game against Finland.
Defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk could also be in the conversation when it comes to choosing a blue line for the United States.
Team North America
It's already known that the Blackhawks will be represented by Bowman for Team North America, but what about on the ice? Former Blackhawk Brandon Saad looks to be the leader of the team, while current Blackhawks forward Ryan Hartman could get the call from his general manager.
Hartman has won gold twice for the United States, the 2012 U18 WC and 2013 World Junior Championships. He also played for the US in the 2014 WJC.
To be eligible for this team, players must be 23 years old or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016.
Forward Artemi Panarin will have a year of NHL playing experience under his belt when he hits the ice for Russia. Panarin, who signed a two-year deal with the Blackhawks in April, scored two goals, including the game-winner for Russia in a 5-3 gold medal victory at the 2011 WJC. He added 10 points (five goals, five assists) in a silver medal finish at this year's World Championships.
The European Team could feature two Blackhawks forwards from Slovakia in Marko Dano and Marian Hossa. Each player has experience playing for their country; Dano, at 20, has played on three WJC teams as well as two World Championships teams. Hossa, at 36, has played in 14 international tournaments for Slovakia, dating back to 1997. He has played in three olympics, but did not participate in the 2014 Games.
Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson and forward Marcus Kruger have unfinished business to be done while wearing the Swedish sweater. Both players left the ice in Sochi with silver medals hanging from their necks.
For Hjalmarsson, it was his first medal in almost a decade, he last won bronze at the 2005 U18 WC. He also competed in the 2012 WC and 2007 WJC. Kruger, who is still unsigned by the Blackhawks, won silver at the 2011 WC and bronze at the 2010 WJC.
Team Finland might as well extend invites to forward Teuvo Teravainen and defenseman Ville Pokka right now. Teravainen, 20, and Pokka, 21, both competed for Finland at the last two WJCs, winning gold at the 2014 installment. Teravainen is one of the most promising NHL players to make his debut this season, while Pokka looks to crack the lineup for the 2015-16 season.