Four Carolina Hurricanes are among seven additions to the Canadian roster for the upcoming IIHF world hockey championship in Russia.
Conn Smythe-winning goalie Cam Ward, forwards Eric Staal and Justin Williams and defenceman Mike Commodore will all wear the Maple Leaf in Moscow.
“(Carolina’s misfortune) was some good fortune for the Canadian national team because the guys were all willing to come over,” GM Steve Yzerman told The Canadian Press on Friday. “They’ve just been through the highest pressure situations and responded well.
“Their experience in those situations will be invaluable to us.”
Defenceman Barret Jackman and forward Jamal Mayers of the St. Louis Blues were also been named to the team Friday along with Columbus Blue Jackets winger Jason Chimera.
The new additions bring the current roster to 12 players. Defenceman Eric Brewer, goalie Dwayne Roloson and forwards Rick Nash, Shane Doan and Mike Cammalleri committed last week.
Canada plays an exhibition game in Tampere, Finland, on April 24th and opens the world championship four days later against Germany. It’s all coming together quickly.
“We’re kind of getting a clearer idea of what type of team it’s going to be,” said Yzerman. “I’m pretty comfortable with it.
“As we put the names down on paper, we see them playing in certain roles (and) identifying the areas that we’re still going to have to address.”
Yzerman, assistant Jacques Martin and consultants Doug Armstrong and John Ferguson are keenly watching the first round of the playoffs.
Two more players are expected to be added to the Canadian team in the coming days, leaving room for as many as nine guys from teams still currently playing.
Yzerman will be working the phones as teams start getting eliminated in the coming week or so.
“We’re watching the series’ very closely,” he said. “We’ve pretty much identified the players on all 16 playoff teams that would fill a need or be guys to consider.
“We’re just watching now – just waiting to see what happens.”
There is some international experience among the group of seven players named Friday.
It will be the second world championship appearance for Mayers and the third for Williams, who was part of the team that won gold in 2004 in the Czech Republic.
Jackman, the 2003 NHL rookie of the year, and Chimera have each represented Canada at the world junior championship. Staal, meanwhile, was part of the Canadian taxi squad at last year’s Olympics in Turin.
Yzerman is looking for a mix of experience and skill while handling the “juggling act” that is assembling the team. He has extended invitations to a couple of players who are still considering their options.
“I’m trying to be up front with everybody as much as possible,” said Yzerman. “And I’m not closing the door on a couple guys that would play key roles for us.
“We’ve kind of got to give them a little bit of time to find out their situation and what they want to do.”
It’s the first time Yzerman has filled this kind of role and he’s enjoyed the process thus far.
The 41-year-old says that the majority of players who have turned down an invitation thus far have done so because of nagging injuries.
This year’s team will be looking to improve on the fourth-place finish of a young squad led by Sidney Crosby in Latvia last year.
Yzerman is starting to feel good about the team he’s putting together.
“(The players) enthusiasm to go over has been kind of reassuring for me,” he said. “We’ve got players going over there with great motivation.
“They’re all really excited about the opportunity.”