IIHF World Championship Hopefuls
So with this season over, and playoffs upon us, there are no real chances to watch our Leafs players until September at the start of training camp. Unless of course, they get their name called to join their respective countries in next month's World Championships. The following short slideshow looks at who on the Maple Leafs may have that opportunity to play, and furthermore as Leafs fans, who we can watch play just a little bit longer in the span between now and training camp.
Nik Kulemin - Russia
Starting with Russia, NIK KULEMIN could make a strong case to find him on that team as a third line checking winger, and they certainly could use him considering Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, and others are gearing up for the playoffs. Likely only Kovalchuk would find his way on to that team. Leafs fans are well aware of what Kulemin brings to the ice surface, and Russia could greatly benefit from a guy who plays a North American style of game. On the bigger ice, Kulemin will be able to use his speed more, and find ways to use the forecheck to his advantage. He should get a long look, and certainly has the tools to find a regular shift on this team.
Mikhail Grabovski - Belarus
Next up is Belarus, and MIKHAIL GRABOVSKI will be a shoe in to basically run this team as their first line center. He is looking to build on an impressive tournament last year, and give Leafs fans some sort of reasoning as to why he should continue to dawn the Blue and White. Belarus' chances start and end with Grabovski... you have to feel sorry for them.
Jonas Gustavsson - Sweden
You'd have to consider Sweden to not as big of a threat if Vancouver and Detroit find themselves in a lengthy playoff run, where it would be hardly likely their Swedish stars would suit up in this tournament. However they still have Lundqvist, and JONAS GUSTAVSSON will likely be given the nod to suit up as the backup or even the starter if the King turns it down. He was sensational for the Leafs in his remaining starts to close out the season, and the Masterton nominee will be looking to build off that not only a mutli-year extension with the Leafs, but also by wearing a Swedish jersey within the next month.
Tomas Kaberle - Czech Republic
Despite all the offseason uncertainty, TOMAS KABERLE will likely find himself surrounded by a group of new teammates as early as next month, playing for the Czech National team. For the time being, the Leafs defenseman is one of the better offensive players from the blue line in the league. He will certainly help the Czech team, and maybe give potential trading partners one last look at what he can do.
Korbian Holzer - Germany
Normally Germany would not really excite anyone, well since, we have no German international players on our roster. However, we do have a prospect, KORBIAN HOLZER who played on their national team at the Olympics and will likely find himself a spot on this team too. Being the host nation too, the German crowds will be pretty wild. Keep an eye on Holzer though, he looks like a solid prospect coming down the pipeline.
American Trio - United States
The United States have already made it clear RON WILSON will not be the head coach of that team, but BRIAN BURKE will have the task of rounding out a decent team capable of reforming their Olympic success. He likely wont call on #81 PHIL KESSEL due to the abdomen tear he suffered, which will likely keep him out of action.
Luke Schenn & Dion Phaneuf - Canada
I left Canada for last, considering this is where there is a chance for multiple representation from the Leafs, and potentially from the blue line. DION PHANEUF would likely be a lock to make that top six along with his buddies from Calgary, but there is also LUKE SCHENN who may earn himself a spot as the 6th D considering his play of late, and the fact he was on this team last year. If Schenn can really impress here, and continue to make strong strides, a goal of finding himself dawning a Canadian jersey in 2014 might be an outside possibility.