The Blackhawks have missed the playoffs for a second straight year, but some players and prospects still have a chance to play meaningful games in May at the World Championship in Slovakia.
Dylan Strome, Jonathan Toews
Toews declined to play last year to rest up from an upper-body injury, but certainly is sitting on an invitation this year right now after a career year with 81 points (35 goals, 46 assists).
Toews hasn’t played in the tournament since 2008, when Canada fell 5-4 in overtime to Russia in the gold-medal game. He has 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in 18 games in Worlds tournaments. He also won gold at the 2007 edition.
After being traded from Arizona to Chicago, Strome turned things around and scored 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) in 58 games. He was the captain for Canada’s 2017 World Junior Championship team, but did not suit up for them at last year’s Worlds. Brendan Perlini, who joined Strome in the trade, had 15 points (12 goals, three assists) in 46 games for Chicago. He hasn’t played for Canada since the 2016 World Juniors. It’d be surprising to see Perlini make the team.
Defensemen Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook could be options as well, but Canada is more likely to give spots to younger blue liners. Goaltender Corey Crawford suffered a groin injury at the end of the season and could opt to rest like Toews did last year instead of playing.
Canada missed the gold-medal game last year after being in it three straight years. They won it in 2015 and 2016 and fell to Sweden in 2017.
Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Connor Murphy, Brandon Saad
DeBrincat, Kane and Murphy all played at last year’s Worlds, while Saad declined his invitation to focus on helping to plan his summer wedding.
Kane captained the U.S. to a bronze-medal finish last year, and was named MVP with a tournament-leading 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 10 games. DeBrincat had nine points (one goal, eight assists) during his first Worlds appearance and Murphy dished out one helper as an alternate captain.
Saad said he’s been invited again, and the other three are considering playing in the tournament. The U.S. has won the tournament twice in 1933 and 1960. The Americans haven’t made the gold-medal final since winning it in 1960.
David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik
Kampf finished his first full NHL season with 19 points (four goals, 15 goals) while playing up and down the lineup and missing time due to a broken bone in his right foot. He’s never played at Worlds, but he does have some international duty experience.
The Blackhawks acquired the rights to Kubalik from the Kings in a trade in January. The 23-year-old left winger is coming off a career year in which he led Switzerland’s National League in scoring with 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists) in 50 games for HC Ambri-Piotta.
The 6-foot-2, 179-pounder scored three goals and eight points at last year’s Worlds and is expected to play in the tournament next month. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has said he plans to sign Kubalik after Worlds and expects him to play in the NHL next season.
If Kampf and Kubalik both play at Worlds it might offer them time to create some chemistry on the ice before next season.
Jokiharju has split time between the NHL and AHL during his first professional season. The defenseman posted 12 assists in 38 NHL games then put up 17 points (two goals, 15 assists) in 28 AHL games with two contests remaining this weekend.
Jokiharju, who turns 20 in June, left the Blackhawks in December to win gold with Finland at the World Junior Championship. He returned and played one NHL game before being sent back to the AHL. Depending on if the Rockford IceHogs make the playoffs and the status of veteran NHL defensemen, Jokiharju might play at Worlds. He made Finland’s initial roster last year, but didn’t make the final cut.
Finland’s last Worlds gold was in 2011 in Slovakia.
Kahun expects to play, but there’s no official word yet. He led all Blackhawks rookies with 37 points (13 goals, 24 assists) in 82 games. He also had a league-low six penalty minutes.
Kahun, who turns 24 in July, has played in the last three Worlds tournaments and helped Germany take silver at the 2018 Olympics. He has 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 22 career games at Worlds.
Germany has never won the tournament.
Artem Anisimov, Max Shalunov
Anisimov and Shalunov both played for Russia at last year’s tournament.
Anisimov, who turns 31 on May 24, will play this year and make his sixth Worlds appearance. This past season was the first time in Anisimov’s four-year career with the Blackhawks that he didn’t hit the 20-goal mark, falling five short with 15 goals and 37 points in 78 games.
Shalunov is currently with CSKA Moscow getting ready to play in the KHL’s Gagarin Cup Final. The 2011 fourth-rounder has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 16 playoff games while playing in a third-line winger role.
Russia hasn’t won the tournament since 2014.
Erik Gustafsson, Marcus Kruger
Gustafsson was a breakout player for the Blackhawks in his first full NHL season with 60 points (17 goals, 43 assists) in 79 games. The defenseman has two Worlds appearances in 2016 and 2018.
Kruger, who will turn 29 in May and is to become a free agent this summer, confirmed Thursday that he will play at Worlds. He won gold in 2017, but did not suit up last year. He also took silver in 2011.
Sweden will be looking for its third straight gold.
The 19-year-old Kurashev is currently with the IceHogs after joining the team on an amateur tryout following the conclusion of his junior season with the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL. He tallied 65 points (29 goals, 36 assists) in the regular season and added five points (one goal, four assists) in one seven-game playoff series for Quebec. He’s been held off the scoresheet in two AHL games.
Kurashev was the breakout player at this year’s World Juniors with a tournament-leading six goals and finished seventh among all skaters with seven points. He also was named Player of the Game twice, highlighted by a scoring a hat trick in a 4-0 win over Denmark.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include announcements on Anisimov and Kruger.