Team Europe is the team we will be taking a look today on allislanders.com. The team consists of players from European nations, excluding Sweden, Czech Republic, Russia, and Finland.
Team Europe’s offense is full of NHL veterans who know how to win games. Marian Hossa for example is a three-time Stanley Cup Champion and also on the roster is two-time Stanley Cup Champion and new Kings captain, Anze Kopitar. They also have Mats Zuccarello who is coming off a strong 61 point season with the Rangers. Former Islanders Frans Nielsen and Nino Niederreiter are on the team as well. Now as a member of the Red Wings Nielsen will have new teammates Thomas Vanek and Tomas Tatar on Team Europe as well. This summer Thomas Vanek was bought out of his contract by the Wild and signed with Detroit. He will look to get his season on the right track before it officially begins. Tatar had 21 goals and 24 assists last season. 20 year old Leon Draisaitl will look to make an impact as well as he comes off a 51 point season in Edmonton. Marian Gaborik, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Tobias Rieder, Jannik Hansen, and Mikkel Boedker are on the team as well.
With the exception of Roman Josi of the Nashville Predators and Lucas Sbisa of the Vancouver Canucks who are both 26 years old, this is a veteran defense core with everyone else 30 years old or older. Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is now 39 but still put up 37 points last season and was a +12. Former Islander captain and current Philadelphia Flyer Mark Streit is now 38 but he still was able to put up 23 points in 62 games. 30 year old Andrej Sekera had 30 points in his first season with Edmonton last year. 35 year old Dennis Seidenberg and 34 year old Christian Ehrhoff are currently both free agents in the NHL. Seidenberg was bought out by the Bruins this summer and also this summer, Ehrhoff became a free agent and is still un-signed.
This is/was Team Europe’s strongest position. Why the was? A couple of days Fredrick Andersen was playing for Denmark in an Olympic qualifying game and got hurt. It is apparently an upper-body injury and he is expected to miss 1-2 weeks.
This would mean World Cup very much in doubt for Andersen https://t.co/iTv4XYKPMt
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) September 2, 2016
Andersen would have likely been the number one goalie for Team Europe. Who are the two other goaltenders? You know them quite well actually. They are Islanders goaltenders Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss who we will talk more about in the “Isles Spotlight”.
Their goaltending still remains as their strength with or without Fredrick Andersen although he helps for sure. Again, we will take more about Halak and Greiss in the “Isles Spotlight” in just a moment.
Defense. Only two defenders are under 30 (Josi and Sbisa), two are free agents (Seidenberg and Ehrhoff). The other three are Zdeno Chara, Andrej Sekera, and Mark Streit. While experience can be a good thing I still don’t think that this defense core can match up against a lot of the teams that they will be facing.
Frans Nielsen. Islander fans, you know what Frans Nielsen is capable of. Whether it is efforts on the power play, penalty kill, shootout, or 5 on 5, Frans Nielsen does it all. If Frans Nielsen does get the opportunity to play in all of these scenarios, he may just be the X-Factor for Team Europe.
The Islanders have four players representing them in the World Cup of Hockey. John Tavares for Team Canada, Nikolay Kulemin for Team Russia, and then Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak both playing for Team Europe. Going into last season it seemed like Halak was the obvious number one goaltender over Greiss. When Halak got hurt during the preseason however, the first couple games of the season went to Greiss who performed very well. After that the Islanders didn’t really have a starter and a backup who played an uneven amount of games like most teams, they essentially had a 1A and a 1B. Two goaltenders who just basically rotated games. When Halak got hurt again a couple of games after the trade deadline Greiss took over the starting role and helped the Isles to the playoffs. Once in the playoffs he played very well and made many important saves like his penalty shot save on Barkov that came in overtime during game five against the Panthers in a 2-2 series. Who knows how the series would have gone had Greiss not stopped Barkov on that penalty shot? Anyway, the Isles season would end after falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games and now Halak is recovered. It will be interesting to see how Team Europe handles their goaltending situation especially if Andersen can’t play.