CALGARY — Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid headlines Canada’s initial 18-player roster released Thursday for the 2018 IIHF World Championship.
McDavid, whose Edmonton squad missed the NHL playoffs after a disappointing sixth-place finish in the Pacific Division this season, won gold with Canada at the 2016 world championship. He’ll be joined by fellow 2016 gold medallist Ryan O’Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres.
Other returnees to the team include 2015 gold-medal winners Jordan Eberle of the New York Islanders, Aaron Ekblad of the Florida Panthers and Brayden Schenn of the St. Louis Blues.
The tournament runs from May 4-20 in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark. Canada is in Group B with the U.S., Finland, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Denmark and South Korea.
“We have a mix of youth, experience and strong leadership qualities among these players as they have represented Canada on the international stage previously from the world juniors up to last year’s championship,” said co-general manager Sean Burke. “Their previous success and experience can only help us in our ultimate goal of bringing home a gold medal.”
Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes was the lone goaltender named to the initial roster.
Four St. Louis defencemen were named to the roster — Ekblad, Vince Dunn, Joel Edmundson and Colton Parayko. Thomas Chabot of the Ottawa Senators, Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse and Ryan Pulock of the Islanders round out the blue line.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will join Oilers teammate McDavid among the forwards. Eberle, Mathew Barzal and Anthony Beauvillier of the Islanders, Vancouver’s Bo Horvat, Schenn and Jaden Schwartz of St. Louis, O’Reilly and Ottawa’s Jean-Gabriel Pageau were the others.
Canada has won gold at two of the last three world championships, going undefeated during the 2015 tournament in the Czech Republic and shutting out Finland in the gold-medal game in 2016 in Russia. Canada captured silver last year, falling to Sweden in the gold-medal game in Cologne, Germany.