Hooray for Hurricanes hockey in May! Or at least several Hurricanes playing hockey in May. As you’re likely well aware, six and a half Hurricanes are plying their trade at the IIHF World Championships in France. FYI, Lack is the half because so far he has been sitting on the bench in a baseball cap. Now you may have also heard that the Hurricanes are flat out dominating in the IIHF World Championships. While it should be acknowledged that the World Championships are where all the non-playoff teams from every league send their players, this dominance is still 100% factual. Our Hurricanes are owning the tourney. Now, since there are other fine sources reporting on said dominance, and I’m feeling very lazy about formatting, we’re just taking the Canadian juniors Prospect Rankings format, and transposing it to the World Championships. Here are the 1st Canes and Coffee International Caniac Power Rankings
1. Jeff Skinner
3 Goals – 4 Assists – 7 Points in 3 Games
It’s always a treat to watch Jeff Skinner do Jeff Skinner things, even if he is in a slightly unfamiliar style of red, white, and black. Skinner has been scorching so far, tallying 3 goals and 4 assists in just 3 games. He is tied for 2nd in the tournament in scoring behind Artemi Panarin. Counting +/- is always shady, but Skinner still leads all tournament skaters with a ridiculous +8. Then again, it does tend to be helpful when you’re playing on a line with Nathan McKinnon and Claude Giroux, while playing against the likes of Belarus and Slovenia. Regardless, treat yourself today and type Jeff Skinner into a Twitter search. Those goal videos are so pleasant to watch.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 8, 2017
2. Sebastian Aho
3 Goals – 4 Assists – 7 Points in 4 Games
Clearly not wanting to be outdone in the battle of baby-faced Hurricanes hockey stars, Sebastian Aho has also been prolific throughout the tournament so far. His Finland team is not close to Skinner’s Canadian juggernaut, evidenced by the 5-1 shellacking they took from a usually mediocre host French team. Still, Aho has been weaving his way through opposing defenses, and is just as much of a treat to watch so far this tournament. (At least he will be when NBCSN decides to air more than just USA games.)
— Marco Bombino (@marco_bombino) May 10, 2017
3. Elias Lindholm
3 Goals – 0 Assists- 3 Points in 3 Games
Lindholm takes the third spot in these rankings over Rask, even though Rask has a higher point total. This is because Lindy leads Sweden in goals, and scored two of those goals not against some overmatched Norwegian team, but against Jimmy Howard, Noah Hanifin and the USA. The other was against Russia. Not only that, but Lindholm missed a huge chunk of the game prior, after taking a slash to the back of the knee against Germany. He was clearly okay after that. He’ll have a chance to pile on some stats, because after a brutal opening of Russia, Germany and the US, Sweden’s next three are Latvia, Italy, and Denmark. Stay tuned for some Swedish fireworks.
— sportstv (@sportstvcomtr) May 9, 2017
4. Victor Rask
1 Goal – 3 Assists – 4 Points in 3 Games
So, who knew all it would take to reignite Rask’s offensive game was international ice? Okay, so having Lindholm and Landeskog as linemates has to help, but Rask currently leads Sweden in points and is still playing his typical two-way game in the process. Like Lindholm, I expect to see his stats pile up in the week ahead. If Rask had any lingering self-doubt after that long late season slump with Carolina, keeping up this run at the World Championships would certainly take care of that.
— Carolina Hurricanes (@NHLCanes) May 6, 2017
5. Noah Hanifin
0 Goals – 1 Assist – 1 Point in 4 Games
Defensemen get no respect. Here he is playing on the top pairing of a very talented United States team, and by all accounts playing very well, and yet we stick him down here in fourth? His offensive numbers are weak, but the whole of the United States offense is weak. USA Hockey has seen a more defensive-oriented approach for the last few tournaments and this is no exception. Hanifin, playing alongside Winnepeg’s Jacob Trouba, is 5th on the team in ice time, at just a shade under 20 minutes per game. I watched him play very well against Sweden, but didn’t notice #55 much against Italy before I got bored with that game. Still, in his 2nd consecutive World Championship, Hanifin seems to be building up a lot of trust among the USA coaching staff.
P.S. I actually put him this low because Hanifin’s only real World Championship picture on Twitter is him helping Dylan Larkin put on his jersey. And that’s just weird.
6. Joakim Nordstrom
0 Goals – 1 Assist- 1 Point in 3 Games
The thing I love about Nordstrom is the feistiness to his game. Sure he picked up an assist and has been playing sound defensive hockey on Sweden’s lower lines, but his true impact is rarely recorded on the score sheet. After a whistle in the USA game, I saw a lone Swede trading shoves and smack talk in the corner with three larger USA hockey players. Of course it was Nordstrom. The man will not get pushed around and that in itself has been a crucial role for Sweden against larger Russian and American teams.
7. Eddie Lack
Sooooooo, Eddie Lack has yet to see the ice in game action. Maybe he was put on the team for personality, but he has played zero minutes behind former NHLer and current Swedish league standout Viktor Fasth. Granted Fasth has NHL-level talent and is far more used to international ice than Lack, having played on it for the past two seasons, but I’m guessing that this was not quite what Eddie Lack may have had in mind for his first experience representing Sweden in an international tournament.
The Quality Games Start Next Week
The preliminary round goes through next Tuesday, with each team playing in 6 early round games. There aren’t a lot of stellar games until then, with the final day of prelim games seeing Skinner’s Canada taking on Aho’s Finland (on NHLN), and an always good USA-Russia matchup (on NBCSN), but the must-watch matchups are being saved for medal rounds the following weekend. In the meantime, if you’re looking to watch your Hurricanes heroes fly around the ice, pumping out the points like they’re the second coming of Gretzky, this tournament has proven to be just the venue for that so far. Tune in next week, where we discuss any possibility of seeing an all-Carolina final four for the IIHF World Championship. Hey, it could happen.