It has been 12 years since the last World Cup of Hockey had taken place in 2004 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. In that tournament, Canada came away as the winners of the tournament with a 3-2 win over Finland in the final game.
Two days later, the National Hockey League had suspended the start of the 2004-05 due to the lockout.
In 2016, the World Cup of Hockey returns to Toronto with a new look and a new feel to the tournament.
The World Cup of Hockey will feature eight teams, consisting of some of the best players around the world. Of the eight teams, six countries will compete in the tournament, including the United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the Czech Republic
The other two teams consist of the best players from around Europe, not featured on the teams represented in the tournament. These players make up Team Europe. The other will consist of the best, young North American talents under the age of 24. These players make up Team North America.
On Wednesday, the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association announced the preliminary rosters for each team competing in the tournament. The preliminary rosters are made up of 16 players, which will eventually be made up of 23 players by June 1.
Out of the 128 players named to their rosters, two of them will represent the Buffalo Sabres starting on September 17. Defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen will represent his native country of Finland, while center Jack Eichel will play with the North American team as a 19-year old.
Ristolainen, 21, is having a career with the Sabres in his third season with the organization. In 64 games this season in Buffalo, Ristolainen has eight goals and 27 assists as the top-defenseman on the blue line.
Ristolainen has competed in numerous international tournaments for Finland, including three IIHF Under-20 World Junior Hockey Championships. In 2014, Ristolainen scored the golden goal for Finland in the gold medal game against Sweden to earn Finland its first win in the tournament since 1998.
Ristolainen was one of just four defensemen named to the preliminary roster for Team Finland, along with Olli Maatta of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks, and Esa Lindell with the Texas Stars in the American Hockey League.
As for Eichel, he is having a stellar rookie season in Buffalo after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft. In 64 games played this season, Eichel has scored 17 goals and registered 24 assists as Buffalo’s second line center.
Eichel has also competed in numerous international events, including two World Junior Championships representing the United States. In 10 games with the U.S. at the World Junior Championships, Eichel has two goals and seven assists.
Eichel was one of eight other forwards announced to play on the North American squad, including the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, Connor McDavid. Some other notable names on the preliminary roster includes Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers, Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings, Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche, and Johnny Gaudreau of the Calgary Flames.
The format of the tournament includes two groups of four teams that will compete in three tournament games to determine the top two teams of each group. Those teams will then play in a single-game semifinal game to determine who will play for the World Cup in a best-of-three final.
The tournament starts on September 17, and the final game of the three-game final could be played on October 1.
You can find the entire list of players selected to the preliminary rosters here:
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