The 2013 IIHF World Championships will start earlier than usual this year with the first games being played on May 3. The Carolina Hurricanes season ends on April 27, so players will have about a week to decide if they want to play for their countries in the tournament.
The World Championships are a little different than the Olympics: players often choose not to play because of the wear and tear of an 82-game season, while others will join their nations after being their NHL teams are knocked out of the playoffs. However, because of the lockout-shortened season more players may choose to play in the tournament, so who are the candidates from the Hurricanes?
Eric Staal – Staal has a chance of making the Canadian Olympic team if the NHL goes to the Winter Olympics in 2014 and the World Championships would give the veteran center an opportunity to show what he brings to the table. Staal last played in the tournament in 2008, but he is a shoe-in for an invite and it will be up to him if he wants to play or not.
Jordan Staal - The younger Staal is in the same boat as Eric. He has an outside chance at a spot in the Winter Olympics and could make a better case for himself by playing at the World Championship showcasing his strong defensive play. Jordan played for Canada at the 2007 Worlds, but has since made the playoffs with the Pittsburgh Penguins every year and never joined Canada after a first-round loss.
Jeff Skinner – Skinner played in the World Championships last year scoring five points in eight games. In this kind of tournament Skinner would be a first-line player that can be relied on for scoring. An invite is likely, but his decision may come with how he feels after the season as he has dealt with a couple injuries this season.
Alexander Semin – Representing your country and playing in the World Championships is important in Russia, so it’s pretty much a lock that Semin will be on the Russia team in May. Semin has played in the tournament six times, the most recent year being 2010 where he recorded five points in eight games.
Tuomo Ruutu – Because Ruutu is from Finland, he will most likely receive an invite. If he was from a country like Canada with more pro stars he would have more of an outside chance. Ruutu last played in the World Championships in 2011 scoring six goals in nine games.
Jiri Tlusty – Tlusty has not played for his native Czech Republic team since his U18 World Junior days. With Tlusty’s breakout year he should receive an invite and the tournament will also give him a chance to earn a spot on the Olympic team in 2014.
Chad LaRose – LaRose does not have a huge chance of making the American team, but he did play for U.S. in 2007. The Americans will usually have two or three players from the AHL, College, Juniors or overseas on their roster at the World Championships, so it would not be that crazy if LaRose were to get an invite, if they were trying to make a gritty bottom six.
Justin Faulk – Faulk played for the U.S. last year providing offensive prowess to the defense. He should get an invite again, but since he missed games with a knee injury a few weeks ago, he could decline to allow the knee to heal more.
Tim Gleason – Gleason made the 2010 U.S. Olympic team due to injuries, but has only played at the World Championships once. Gleason’s a steady defenseman and can help the Americans’ clear the area in front of their own net. Depending on who misses the playoffs Gleason may have a good chance of receiving an invite. However, the U.S. has a number of defenseman that could play at the Olympics and the American committee may want to see those players compete rather than Gleason.