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2016 World Hockey Championship: Team Canada Preview

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Canada looks to defend their title as the reigning champions this year in Russia.

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

In 2015, Team Canada won their first gold medal in eight years, after going undefeated and beating Team Russia 6-1 in the gold medal game. This year, Canada will be kicking off the tournament in Russia against another historic rival in the United States.

Dating all the way back to 1931, Canada has won the world championship 19 times, collected 11 silver medals and six bronze. Bill Peters, head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, was assistant coach for the gold-winning team last year, and will be back behind the bench, this time serving as head coach.

The initial 18 players were announced on April 11, and then Corey Perry, Matt Dumba and Derick Brassard were added to the roster after their respective teams were knocked out of the playoffs. All three late editions will be valuable, each bringing international experience to the team.

There are a lot of worthy candidates that could be available as the playoffs continue, if they take a page out of Sidney Crosby's book. When his Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated from the playoffs last year, Crosby asked to be included on the team, and went on to become a member of the Triple Gold Club.

The team is getting in as much practice as they can to become climatized to the ice and time zone. Their first practice took place on Saturday, April 30, giving us a sneak peak of possible lineups.

Connor McDavid skated on a line with Matt Duchene and Brad Marchand (who left practice early with a possible lower-body injury). Also paired together were Derick Brassard, Taylor Hall, and Sam Reinhart, with Ryan O'Reilly playing alongside Brendan Gallagher and Boone Jenner.

Player Position League Current Team
Calvin Pickard G NHL Colorado Avalanche
Cam Talbot G NHL Edmonton Oilers
Cody Ceci D NHL Ottawa Senators
Matt Dumba D NHL Minnesota Wild
Ben Hutton D NHL Vancouver Canucks
Michael Matheson D AHL Portland Pirates
Ryan Murray D NHL Columbus Blue Jackets
Morgan Reilly D NHL Toronto Maple Leafs
Chris Tanev D NHL Vancouver Canucks
Derick Brassard F NHL New York Rangers
Max Domi F NHL Arizona Coyotes
Matt Duchene F NHL Colorado Avalanche
Brendan Gallagher F NHL Montreal Canadiens
Taylor Hall F NHL Edmonton Oilers
Boone Jenner F NHL Columbus Blue Jackets
Brad Marchand F NHL Boston Bruins
Connor McDavid F NHL Edmonton Oilers
Ryan O'Reilly F NHL Buffalo Sabres
Corey Perry F NHL Anaheim Ducks
Sam Reinhart F NHL Buffalo Sabres
Mark Scheifele F NHL Winnipeg Jets
Mark Stone F NHL Ottawa Senators

Strengths:

This iteration of team Canada is young, but there's no shortage of experience. This is Taylor Hall's third world championship appearance, and he, along with Duchene and O'Reilly, are returning members of last year's gold medal squad. Also, most of the players featured this year have represented Canada internationally at some point.

The trio of Max Domi, McDavid and Reinhart helped bring home the gold for Canada during the world juniors last year, and then there is the late addition of Corey Perry, a two-time Olympic gold-medalist. It should suffice to say that this group will not be lacking international experience.

Weaknesses:

While there is plenty of experience on the roster, they are still icing a very young defensive corps. Chris Tanev is their most seasoned veteran at 26 years-old, so they are pretty green on the blue line. With guys like Reilly, Murray, and Dumba, it seems hard to call defence a weakness, but they lack that veteran presence that is often needed in international competition.

Goaltending could also be considered a weakness for this team. That's not necessarily a knock against Pickard or Talbot, but both lack the experience and elite level play of; say Carey Price or Roberto Luongo. Given that there will be that young defensive group in front of them, they may be relied upon quite a bit against other strong countries.

X-Factor:

Both Brendan Gallagher and Connor McDavid missed a fair chunk of the 2015-16 season due to injuries, with Gallagher missing in action for 29 games and McDavid for 37. They are probably both starving for this extra action, so they'll likely come to play like they would if it were the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

As tends to be the case with Canadian national squads, there is plenty of offence in the lineup. They have a forward corps that can roll four dangerous lines, so few teams will be able to hold them off the scoresheet. They are deep up front, and opposing teams would do well to recognize that.

All things considered, the Canadians have a good chance of taking home another gold this year in Russia.