With the Arizona Coyotes missing the playoffs again, six players in Arizona’s system went on to represent their home countries at the 2019 IIHF World Championship. While fans would rather have these players competing for the Stanley Cup, international tournaments offer experience and a chance to hone their skills None of the Coyotes players earned a medal, but that’s not to say they were inconsequential and that the players didn’t benefit from their time in Slovakia.
Note: The Coyotes website initially reported that Ilya Lyubushkin would be representing Russia. This would make him the only Coyotes player to earn a medal as Russia won bronze, however he is not listed on the IIHF’s website for the Russian roster. Based off tweet from Russia Hockey it appears that he was released prior to the start of the tournament.
The Russian national team’s management thanks defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin and forwards Ilya Mikheev and Alexander Kadeikin for their efforts with the team, wishing them luck for next season and counting on them for future competitions. #TeamRussia— Russia Hockey (@russiahockey_en) May 6, 2019
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden)
Sweden would be eliminated by Finland in the Quarters in an bit of an upset, but before that they were pretty dominate. Oliver Ekman-Larsson would end up playing a major part for Team Swedish, captaining the team and leading the defense. He would lead Sweden’s blue line in both goals (3) and assists (5), and his eight points was the fifth highest on the team. One of his goals would prove to be the game winning goal against Switzerland and two of his assists came in Sweden’s final game against Finland.
Mario Kempe (Sweden)
Mario Kempe wasn’t as big of a piece for Team Sweden, but that isn’t to say he didn’t contribute. He had a goal and an assist and finished as a +1.
Clayton Keller (USA)
Team USA also was eliminated in the Quarters, losing 4-3 to Russia who would go on to win the bronze medal. This was a bit of a disappointment too, especially considering that Team USA had a pretty solid roster this year. Team USA did have the second best power play of the tournament, hopefully giving Keller an opportunity to pick up some tricks. After a bit of a sophomore slump, Keller had a decent showing at the World Championship. He would finish 2-2-4 and was a -3. His two goals would have him ranked fourth on the team in goals scored, with only Alex Debrincat, Patrick Kane, and Chris Kreider scored more then him. This is surprising given the fact that both Jack Hughes and Jack Eichel represented Team USA this year.
Richard Panik (Slovakia)
Team Slovakia would not make it to the playoffs this year, finishing the preliminary round with only 11 points. Panik was one of only six players who played with an NHL team to represent Team Slovakia, so its not too surprising that they didn’t get far. What may be a surprise for Coyotes fans was Panik’s contributions to Team Slovakia. He lead the team in points finishing 1-6-7 as a +3, and his point total was matched by only defenceman Martin Marincin.
Liam Kirk (Great Britain)
It was surprising to see Great Britain on the world stage, although it wasn’t surprising to see them not make it out of the preliminaries, finishing with nine points.. But considering Kirk made history getting drafted by the Coyotes last season, it seems that Great Britain’s hockey presence is starting to grow. Kirk unfortunately didn’t have that great of a showing. He did not register a single point and finished a -6. Granted you can’t be too hard on him, eleven players for Great Britain did not have a single point. The tournament gave much needed experience to Kirk who will hopefully continue to improve and grow in the Coyotes system.