By Stephen Whyno
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
WASHINGTON _ Phil Kessel has to wait to find out if he plays for the United States at the World Cup of Hockey, and P.K. Subban will have to wait on getting the call about representing Canada.
Kessel and Subban were among the most notable players left off the initial 16-man World Cup rosters unveiled Wednesday. There’s still time for them to be added as each team must fill out its 23-man roster by June 1.
The John Tortorella-coached Americans picked nine forwards, including the surprise Justin Abdelkader of the Detroit Red Wings, four defencemen and three goaltenders.
The U.S. will be led by Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane and Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and feature a blue line with Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild and Ryan McDonagh of the New York Rangers.
Canada will have a very familiar feel for coach Mike Babcock as 12 of the first 16 players selected to the roster won gold with him at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, including goaltender Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens, who has been out of NHL action with an injury. General manager Doug Armstrong said he gave Price the choice of how to proceed with the roster, and the reigning Hart and Vezina Trophy winner wanted to be on it.
Behind Price are Braden Holtby of the Washington Capitals, who’s on pace to break Martin Brodeur’s single-season wins record, and Corey Crawford of the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks.
They’re two of the four newcomers along with Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos and Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin.
Subban was a glaring omission given his risk-and-reward style. Subban played sparingly in Sochi, and Armstrong mentioned that Babcock likes having players he can put on the ice in all situations. The four defencemen on the roster so far are Drew Doughty of the Kings, Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, Duncan Keith of the Blackhawks and Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks.
Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Blackhawks lead the forward group.
“They only let us name 16, so it’s pretty easy,” Babcock said. “You take the 16 you think you should name and you name them. The hardest part is the part to come. Not the first 16. My wife could’ve done that. It’s the rest.”
Other teams had more difficult decisions. Team North America, made up of American and Canadian players age 23 and under, has the past three No. 1 picks in Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad and Nathan MacKinnon but didn’t have room for Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of the Edmonton Oilers or Alex Galchenyuk of the Canadiens.
Team North America GM Peter Chiarelli, who also holds that job in Edmonton, said he talked to Nugent-Hopkins about not being on the initial roster and hopes the young centre gets healthy and back into form.
“That was a difficult one,” Chiarelli said. “He knows what he has to do. I would expect him to be part of this team at the end of the day. But he’s got to come back and play, and I expect that he will.”
Buffalo Sabres rookie Jack Eichel is already on the team, and the combination of him and McDavid should be potent.
“I’m just observant that the other GMs _ Dean (Lombardi) and Doug (Armstrong) _ are jealous and they’ve told me such because those two would probably be on the big team,” Chiarelli said. “(I) probably don’t fully appreciate it. I think probably in 10 years we’ll look back and truly appreciate it.”
Sweden left the Stars’ John Klingberg off its first roster, but could add him to one of the deepest blue lines in the tournament. The Czech Republic left Jaromir Jagr off, but mainly because so that the 44-year-old could have until June 1 to decide whether he wants to play.
The World Cup of Hockey runs from Sept. 17-Oct. 1 in Toronto.