Things have been turning in the right direction for the Leafs’ organization for about a year now. Yes, they still have a ways to go for any success in standings, but it’s nice that some of the pieces they’ve accumulated will be getting some worldwide acclaim in the meantime.
World Cup rosters were finalized today for the eight participating countries in September’s tourney, and Toronto will send their fair share of players to…well…uhh…Toronto.
And things are pretty spread out. The Leafs will be sending players to six teams: Russia, Czech Republic, North America U-23, USA, Finland and host Canada.
Newly-signed Nikita Zaitsev will be on Russia’s blue-line, and might be relied upon pretty heavily considering what the rest of that defence corps looks like.
Zaitsev had 26 points in 46 games for CSKA Moscow this past year and Toronto’s front office is high on him being a real contributor next season.
Noted nice man and Phaneuf trade enabler Milan Michalek will suit up for the Czechs, along with his brother Zbynek from the Yotes. Here’s to driving up that trade deadline value.
James van Riemsdyk missed a huge portion of this past season, but when he did play, his production was fine as it’s always been. He’ll get the call for the States again, as he should. Someone has to score goals on a Dean Lombardi-led team that includes Justin Abdelkader and not Phil Kessel.
Uncle Leo is a staple on the international hockey stage. No surprises here.
North America 23-and-Under
This will be the team Leafs fans likely pay the most attention to.
Rielly got the call in the first round of selections a while ago, and now Auston Matthews has been added after his lights-out World Championship. They’ll join McDavid, Eichel, Gaudreau, and a bunch of other exciting youngsters.
It’ll definitely be a lot of fun taking in those games.