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2018 men’s hockey World Championship: Blackhawks preview

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Everything you need to know about the annual international tournament.

Hockey: World Cup of Hockey-Team Czech Republic vs Team USA John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

This year’s World Championship begins Friday in Denmark and offers a chance for NHL players to continue playing before summer hits. It’s also an opportunity for top talented players overseas to get scouted by NHL teams.

It is the highest profiled international tournament featuring NHL talent. It has often been overshadowed by the Winter Olympics, but it won’t this year after the NHL decided to skip the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.

Tournament format

The event has 16 nations playing in two groups of eight, with the top four in each group advancing to the playoffs. The final is scheduled for May 20.

Olympic champion Russia, defending Worlds champion Sweden, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Slovakia, France and Austria are in Group A. Games will be played at Royal Arena in Copenhagen.

Canada, Finland, United States, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Denmark and South Korea are in Group B. They will play at Jyske Bank Boxen in Herning.

Which Blackhawks are playing?

For the Blackhawks, this tournament traditionally serves as a way to watch their top prospects play against top-tier competition and scout international talent. After missing the Stanley Cup playoffs, however, the Hawks will see some of its top players in the tournament.

The Hawks will be represented by nine players, including four with the United States: forwards Alex DeBrincat and Patrick Kane and defensemen Connor Murphy and Jordan Oesterle. Kane will serve as Team USA’s captain.

Chicago assistant coach Don Granato will serve in the same role for the Americans.

Forwards Artem Anisimov and Maxim Shalunov (Russia), Tomas Jurco (Slovakia) and Dominik Kahun (Germany) and defenseman Erik Gustafsson (Sweden) will also suit up for their respective countries.

Germany (Kahun)

Kahun, who signed a two-year, entry-level contract as an undrafted free agent with the Hawks in April, played the past three seasons with Red Bull EHC Munchen in Germany’s top league. The team won the league championship each year with Kahun. During the 2017-18 season, the 22-year-old recorded 41 points in 42 regular season games, then racked up 14 points in 17 playoff games.

Kahun had two goals and three assists for Germany in their silver-medal run in Pyeongchang. It’ll be his first Worlds appearance.

Russia (Anisimov and Shalunov)

Anisimov is coming off his third straight 20-goal season. The 29-year-old has scored 20, 22 and 20 goals in each of his three seasons with the Blackhawks. He scored 31 points (20 goals, 31 assists) last season.

Anisimov played for Russia in the three Worlds tournaments prior to joining Chicago, including winning gold in 2014. He has 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 37 career games at Worlds.

Shalunov, 25, scored 40 points (20 goals, 20 assists) in 46 games in his first season with CSKA in the KHL. The 2011 fourth-round pick has never played at Worlds.

Slovakia (Jurco)

Jurco, 25, scored six goals and assisted on four others in 29 games this season for Chicago in a bottom-six role. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound winger joined the Hawks last season near the trade deadline from Detroit. Jurco recorded only one goal in 13 games in the 2016-17 season for Chicago. Prior to the trade, he was scoreless in 16 games with the Red Wings.

Jurco is set to become a restricted free agent this summer.

He will make his third Worlds tournament appearance. He previously played in the 2015 and 2016 tournaments, recording six points (two goals, four assists) in 12 games. His best performance at Worlds came in 2016, when he scored two goals and assisted on three others in seven games.

Sweden (Gustafsson)

Gustafsson split this past season between Chicago and AHL Rockford. The 26-year-old 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) in 35 games with the Hawks. He scored 11 of his 16 points after signing a two-year contract extension in March.

Gustafsson recorded two assists in eight games at the 2016 Worlds as the Swedes took sixth.

United States (DeBrincat, Kane, Murphy, Oesterle)

DeBrincat scored a team-high 28 goals and tied for second in points at 52 during his rookie NHL season. His 24 assists ranked fifth on the team. DeBrincat has only suited up once for Team USA, scoring one goal in five games during the 2016 World Junior Championship, but was left off the roster for the following year’s tournament.

Kane will make his first Worlds appearance in 10 years. The 29-year-old previously played for Team USA at the 2010 and ‘14 Olympics and 2016 World Cup of Hockey. He has six goals and 15 assists in 22 games for Team USA.

Murphy was acquired by Chicago in the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade last spring. He mostly played top-4 minutes on the blueline with 14 points in 76 games. Murphy, who was Team USA’s captain in 2017 and will be an alternate this year, will make his fifth straight Worlds appearance.

Oesterle left Edmonton last summer after only playing six NHL games, and signed a two-year deal with Chicago. The 25-year-old found his way into the Hawks’ lineup in 55 games and tallied 15 points. It’ll be his Worlds debut.

The U.S., who has won bronze twice since 2013, hasn’t reached the gold-medal game since 1960, when it defeated Canada for its second world championship.

Schedule

All U.S. games will be broadcasted on NHL Network. The broadcast schedule for games after May 9 have yet to be announced for non-U.S. games.

May 4

A: Russia vs. France, 9:15 a.m.

B: USA vs. Canada, 9:15 a.m. (NHLN)

A: Sweden vs. Belarus, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)

B: Germany vs. Denmark, 1:15 p.m.

May 5

A: Switzerland vs. Austria, 5:15 a.m.

B: Norway vs. Latvia, 5:15 a.m. (NHLN)

A: France vs. Belarus, 9:15 a.m. (NHLN)

B: Finland vs. Korea, 9:15 a.m.

A: Czech Republic vs. Slovakia, 1:15 p.m.

B: Denmark vs. USA, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)

May 6

A: Austria vs. Russia, 5:15 a.m.

B: Korea vs. Canada, 5:15 a.m. (NHLN)

A: Sweden vs. Czech Republic, 9:15 a.m. (NHLN)

B: Germany vs. Norway, 9:15 a.m.

A: Slovakia vs. Switzerland, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)

B: Latvia vs. Finland, 1:15 p.m.

May 7

A: Belarus vs. Russia, 9:15 a.m.

B: USA vs. Germany, 9:15 a.m. (NHLN)

A: Sweden vs. France, 1:15 p.m.

B: Canada vs. Denmark, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)

May 8

A: Austria vs. Slovakia, 9:15 a.m. (NHLN)

B: Korea vs. Latvia, 9:15 a.m.

A: Czech Republic vs. Switzerland, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)

B: Finland vs. Norway, 1:15 p.m.

May 9

A: Switzerland vs. Belarus, 9:15 a.m.

B: Germany vs. Korea, 9:15 a.m.

A: Sweden vs. Austria, 1:15 p.m.

B: Finland vs. Denmark, 1:15 p.m.

May 10

A: Slovakia vs. France, 9:15 a.m.

B: Sweden vs. Latvia, 9:15 a.m.

B: Norway vs. Canada, 1:15 p.m.

May 11

A: France vs. Austria, 9:15 a.m.

B: Denmark vs. Norway, 9:15 a.m.

A: Belarus vs. Czech Republic, 1:15 p.m.

B: USA vs. Korea, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)

May 12

A: Slovakia vs. Sweden, 5:15 a.m.

B: Latvia vs. Germany, 5:15 a.m.

A: Austria vs. Belarus, 9:15 a.m.

B: Denmark vs. Korea, 9:15 a.m.

A: Russia vs. Switzerland, 1:15 p.m.

B: Canada vs. Finland, 1:15 p.m.

May 13

A: France vs. Czech Republic, 9:15 a.m.

B: Norway vs. USA, 9:15 a.m. (NHLN)

A: Switzerland vs. Sweden, 1:15 p.m.

B: Germany vs. Finland, 1:15 p.m.

May 14

A: Russia vs. Slovakia, 9:15 a.m.

B: Korea vs. Norway, 9:15 a.m.

A: Czech Republic vs. Austria, 1:15 p.m.

B: Canada vs. Latvia, 1:15 p.m.

May 15

A: Switzerland vs. France, 5:15 a.m.

B: Finland vs. USA, 5:15 a.m. (NHLN)

A: Belarus vs. Slovakia, 9:15 a.m.

B: Canada vs. Germany, 9:15 a.m.

A: Russia vs. Sweden, 1:15 p.m.

B: Latvia vs. Denmark, 1:15 p.m.

May 17

Quarterfinal: 2A vs. 3B, 9:15 a.m.

Quarterfinal: 2B vs. 3A, 9:15 a.m.

Quarterfinal: 1A vs. 4B, 1:15 p.m.

Quarterfinal: 1B vs. 4A, 1:15 p.m.

May 19

Semifinal: Teams TBD, 8:15 a.m. (NHLN)

Semifinal: Teams TBD, 12:15 p.m. (NHLN)

May 20

Bronze-medal: Semifinal 1 loser vs. semifinal 2 loser, 8:45 a.m. (NHLN)

Gold-medal: Semifinal 1 winner vs. Semifinal 1 winner, 1:15 p.m. (NHLN)