CHL players in spotlight
CHL players in spotlight
Who will make from European to World stage?
The World Championships always feature a nice mix of players from the NHL and European leagues, which has helped raise the profile of some of these players outside of their home countries. When scrolling through the names on the line-ups of the 44 clubs in this year's Champions Hockey League, names like Steffen Soberg, Mathis Olimb, Olli Palola, Niclas Burstrom, Tomas Rolinek, Martin Sevc, Herberts Vasiljevs, Marek Daloga and Thomas Oppenheimer stand out as players who played significant roles for their national teams in Minsk. Now they're trying to make a mark for their respective clubs outside of domestic play as well.
For others who have played in past World Championships but were passed over in 2014, due to age or other reasons, this is a chance to show that they can still perform on the world stage. Kloten Flyers goaltender Martin Gerber has played for Switzerland in eight World Championships but, at age 39, missed the last tournament due to an injury. If he can steal some games in which his team gets outshot, we may see him one more time. Mikko Maenpaa of JYP Jyvaskyla has played for Finland twice, most recently in 2012. With three points in two games from the back end, he's showing he might be worth considering again. No players from Denmark's 2014 roster came from the country's lone CHL representative this year, SonderjyskE Vojens. Defenceman Mads Bodker has played seven times before, though, and at age 26, certainly has years left to offer his national team.Continue reading
The offensive leader after two rounds of games is Frolunda Gothenburg's Andreas Johnsson, with an incredible nine points. He's never played in the World Championships before but, at age 20, it's not hard to believe he'll get a shot to prove himself on the Swedish national team at some point in the future. For other players, though, the clock is ticking. There a number of players over 30 years old who have maybe been overlooked in the past and might deserve a shot now.
Christian Dahl Andersen has consistently put up big numbers in the Norwegian top league and has shown he can perform for his club internationally as well. Last season he had 11 points in six games to help his Stavanger Oilers capture the IIHF Continental Cup and now, after two CHL games he has six points, helping his team to a surprise win over Ocelari Trinec. Yet, at 33 years of age, he has never cracked Norway's World Championship line-up. Might 2015 be his year if he keeps it up? Skelleftea's Erik Forssell and Trinec's Jiri Polansky, both 32, have never made it and both have five points in two games.
Of course, there's still a whole lot more of the competition to be played, so it remains to be seen who the real stars are when the games really count. There are sure to be plenty of players in this year's Champions Hockey League who will be skating for their national teams in Prague and Ostrava come May, but how many will use Europe's new club competition as a springboard into the World Championships?
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