While the Predators may have been eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, some players will have the chance to keep playing in a new uniform. The 2015 IIHF World Championships are set to get underway in the Czech Republic tomorrow, and a number of Predators will be representing their countries in the tournament.
Here are the eight players (current, prospects, an signings) that will be making the trip over:
Pekka Rinne (Finland)
Seth Jones (USA)
Jimmy Vesey (USA)
Steve Moses (USA)
Mattias Ekholm (Sweden)
Filip Forsberg (Sweden)
Roman Josi (Switzerland)
Kevin Fiala (Switzerland)
Notably left off that list is forward Craig Smith, who will not be joining Team USA this year. He made an appearance for his country at the 2014 Championships in Belarus.
Storylines to Watch
For most Predators fans, this will be the first opportunity to watch the KHL phenom play. Moses broke the KHL scoring record with 36 goals in 60 games with Jokerit Helsinki. While the KHL is perhaps the premier hockey league outside the NHL, it will be interesting to see how Moses performs against mostly NHL or NHL-caliber talent.
Switzerland is a major dark horse in this tournament, due in part to their top-level defenseman in Roman Josi and their young phenom Kevin Fiala. Josi is a celebrity in Switzerland, even getting himself on the cover of the Swiss version of NHL 13. It will be his sixth appearance at the World Championships. For Fiala, it will be his second appearance with Team Switzerland at the tournament. He didn’t make much noise at last year’s tournament, posting at plus-three rating and just one assist. However, with a little more experience playing against some of the top talent in the world in North America, look for Fiala to break through in this tournament.
Three Predators/Predators prospects will be making their first appearances in the World Championships: Filip Forsberg, Steve Moses and Jimmy Vesey. Forsberg had played for Sweden in the World Juniors in 2012, 2013, and 2014, medaling in all three tournaments (one gold, two silver). He will likely get extended playing time for the blue and gold, as Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Partic Hornqvist will all sit out the tournament.
For the USA, Vesey will be making the jump from Juniors to the big show. Alonside Seth Jones, Vesey won gold at the 2013 World Juniors. After a disappointing showing at the 2014 WJC, and a heartbreaking loss in the Frozen Four Final with Boston University, Vesey will be hungry for a tournament victory in the Czech Republic.
Games To Watch
Finland vs. United States, Friday, May 1st, 10:15 AM EST
Pekka Rinne makes his tournament debut against Vesey, Moses, and Team USA.
United States vs. Russia, Monday, May 4th, 10:15 AM EST
Battles between the former Cold War foes are always fun.
Switzerland vs. Sweden, Saturday, May 9th, 2:15 PM EST
A battle of Predators phenom forwards: Forsberg and Fiala. Which one will look sharper?
Canada vs. Switzerland, Sunday, May 10th, 2:15 PM EST
Can Josi and Fiala take down the mightiest hockey country in the world?
Russia vs. Finland, Tuesday, May 12th, 2:15 PM EST
Can Rinne hold off a strong Russian attack that includes Evgeni Malkin and Vladmir Tarasenko?