Penguins' Crosby, Malkin, Maatta named to World Cup of Hockey teams
March 2, 2016 6:24 PM
Paul Sancya/Associated Press
Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta, left, was named to Finland's team, and Evgeni Malkin was named to Russia's team by the Russian Ice Hockey Federation for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Matt Freed/Post-Gazette Penguins' Sidney Crosby reaches for the puck around Jets' Ben Chiarot. Crosby, as expected, was named to Canada's roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Goalie Matt Murray has been to Team North America's roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. The team is made up of players from Canada and the U.S. that are 23 and under. Murray is Canadian.
By Jenn Menendez and Seth Rorabaugh / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sidney Crosby and three of his Penguins’s teammates were named to their country’s 2016 World Cup of Hockey teams Wednesday as the 16-man preliminary rosters were announced.
Crosby, who was a shoo-in, was named to Team Canada, Evgeni Malkin was named to Team Russia, defenseman Olli Maatta was named to Team Finland and goaltender Matt Murray, 21, was named to Team North America, which will consist of American and Canadian players that are 23 and under.
Phil Kessel was not among the preliminary 16 players to be named to Team USA, but seven more will be named to each team no later than June 1, according to the NHL.
Each roster will consist of 23 players — 20 skaters and three goaltenders.
Crosby, Maatta and Malkin have significant international experience.
Murray does not. He is 2-2-1 this season, with a 1.98 goals-against and .933 save percentage. His only other international experience came when he won a bronze medal with Team Canada in the 2012 World Under-18 Championship with a 4-3 record in seven games played. He went 4-3 with a 2.72 goals-against and .920 save percentage.
Team Russia, Team Finland, Team Sweden, Team Czech Republic, Team Europe, Team North America and Canada, and Team U.S.A. announced the first 16 players on their roster for the tournament Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto. The two-week tournament will be a joint venture of the NHL and NHL Players’ Association and the International Ice Hockey Federation. It will feature about 150 of the world’s best players.
WBS gets needed lift
The toll of having so many players on the NHL roster is being felt in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, as the minor league team has lost seven of its past eight games.
One move could offset that? The franchise made a minor trade before the Monday trade deadline by re-acquiring center Dustin Jeffrey from the Arizona Coyotes along with center Dan O’Donoghue and defenseman James Melindy in exchange for minor-league center Matia Marcantuoni.
Jeffrey, an AHL all-star this season, returns to the organization that drafted him in 2007.
“He’s a success story for us,” said associate general manager Jason Botterill. “A sixth-round pick [who] played in games in the [NHL]. With a guy like [center Oskar Sundqvist] out right now, it does gives us some depth there. Also, with so many the guys up from Wilkes-Barre up here right now, with a guy like [center] Dominik Uher out for the season, we felt the need to help out in Wilkes-Barre. So he does a little bit of both for us.”
Botterill did not disclose the nature of Sundqvist’s injury but said it’s not long term.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton’s roster crunch has had a trickle-down effect on the Wheeling Nailers, their ECHL affiliate.
The organization hopes O’Donaghue, a former Mercyhurst player, and Melindy, can offset that.
“[Assistant general manager Bill Guerin] and myself had watched O’Donoghue up in Mercyhurst a couple of years ago. You look at game reports on Melindy, it hasn’t worked for him [as a pro] but he was a guy our amateur [scouts] had watched during his amateur career. … With depleted lineups both in [Wilkes-Barre/Scranton] and Wheeling right now, we’re giving them an opportunity.”
Change of scenery
Center Matthias Plachta, the player the Penguins got from the Coyotes in exchange for left winger Sergei Plotnikov, will try to benefit from his change of scenery, said Botterill. In 46 games with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons, Plachta, a native of Germany, has seven points (two goals, five assists).
“He’s a player we saw over at Europe a little bit last year in the [IIHF] World Championship,” Botterill said. “Has a very good shot. He had a very good training camp, but it just hasn’t worked out in the American Hockey League. But we’ll give him an opportunity and see where it works from there.”
Jenn Menendez: email@example.com and Twitter @JennMenendez. Seth Rorabaugh: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @emptynetters.
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