Just because the Florida Panthers aren’t playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, doesn’t mean their players are just going to take the entire summer off. The 2015 IIHF World Men’s Ice Hockey Championship will begin on Friday, May 1, with six Florida Panthers representing their respective countries in the tournament in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic.
Forwards F Jaromir Jagr (Czech Republic), Aleksander Barkov (Finland), Jussi Jokinen (Finland), Tomas Kopecky (Slovakia) and defensemen Aaron Ekblad (Canada) and Dmitry Kulikov (Russia) will all take part in this tournament.
This will be Barkov and Ekblad first World Championship while Jokinen and Kopecky will serve as Captain of their respective teams. Jagr will be the Czech Republic’s Alternate Captain.
While playing for the Panthers and New Jersey Devils Jagr registered 17 goals and 30 assist in 77 games. This will be the ninth time Jagr, 43, has represented the Czech Republic in the World Championships. He won two Gold Medals in 2005 and again in 2010.
Jagr is one of only two Czech-born players (Jiri Slegr) to win an Olympic Gold Medal, World Championship Gold Medal and Stanley Cup.
In 71 games this season, Barkov recorded a career-high with 16 goals, 20 assists, and 36 points. Barkov’s 16 goals this season led all Finnish-born players.
Jokinen registered eight goals and 36 assists during the 2014-2015 season. The 2015 IIHF World Championship will mark the sixth time Jokinen has represented Finland.
While playing in only 64 games this season, Kopecky recorded two goals and six assists for the Panthers. This will be the third time Kopecky has played for Slovakia during the World Championships.
In his first season in the NHL, Ekblad played in 81 games for the Panthers and registered 12 goals and 27 assists. The defenseman was the Panthers first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. At age 19, Ekblad also made his first NHL All-Star appearance in 2015.
Kulikov recorded three goals and 19 assist in 73 games. Kulikov won a Bronze Medal (2009) and a Silver Medal (2010) while representing Russia at the World Championships.
16 countries will be divided into two groups for the Preliminary Round. The top-four ranked countries of each group advance to the quarter-finals that will be played cross-over.
The first-place team in each preliminary round group will play the fourth-place team of the other group while the second-place team plays the third-place team from the other group. From there the winning teams will advance to the semi-finals.
Select games from the World Championship will be broadcasted on NBC Sports Network, with the first game being USA vs. Finland on May 1, at 10:15 a.m. eastern. The Gold Medal game will be broadcasted on May 17, at 2:45 p.m. eastern.