Canada’s dominance in best-on-best hockey tournaments wasn’t the only thing that was proven at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey in Toronto. There were also key performances from players — and coaches —that significantly altered the prism through which they are being viewed heading into the 2016-17 NHL season. Here’s a few names that have received a “World Cup bump.”
Here’s Johnny! The 23-year-old RFA made the strongest possible case for locking down a lucrative deal with the Flames by leading Team North America in goals, points and game-winning goals at the World Cup.
Gaudreau tallied five goals, nine points, 23 shots and two game-winners in Toronto (does playing at the ACC count as a road game?). On a team that was a revelation, Gaudreau was one of the best if not the best players on the ice.
That’s great news for Gaudreau, who is currently holding out as he closes in on a major payday in Calgary. The New Jersey native is reportedly seeking $8 million a year, and it will be tough for the Flames to deny him after Gaudreau’s sparkling performance in Toronto.
After a cup of coffee with the Edmonton Oilers in 2012-13, Ralph Krueger was fired from his job as head coach over Skype by Oilers’ GM Craig MacTavish. Now that he has masterminded the merry band of misfits known as Team Europe to the World Cup final, NHL GMs might be Skyping him to offer him a job soon.
Krueger is currently Chairman of Southampton F.C. in the English Premier League, but if the Canadian-born German ever wants to get back into the NHL, as a head coach or an executive, his stock is certainly high enough for him to do that. Krueger took a team comprised of players from eight countries, got them on message and into the semifinals where they slipped past Sweden in overtime.
His squad also acquitted itself nicely against Canada in the final, challenging them more than any other team. It wasn’t only because of talent—it was also due to preparation, structure and cohesiveness, and Krueger’s coaching had a lot to do with it.
Jaroslav Halak answered all the questions about his health and then some at this year’s World Cup. He went 3-3 with a 0.941 save percentage to lead Team Europe to the final, pitching a shutout against Team U.S.A. in the opening game of the tournament and stopping 37 of 39 shots to help his team take down Sweden in the semis.
The resurgence of the injury-prone Slovakian creates an interesting dynamic for the Islanders. Many thought that Halak may have played his last game in Brooklyn when he went down with an injury and never returned last March, but now the team must be wondering if Halak is indeed the guy that can get them to the next level.
The Islanders currently have three goalies on the roster, so something has to give in the next few weeks. If the club decides to move Halak and his $4.5 million cap hit, there will surely be more than a few teams interested in making a deal after seeing him stand on his head in Toronto.
The Slovakian was an absolute beast at the World Cup. He was penciled in as bottom-rung forward but finished the tournament on the top line and as Team Europe’s leading goal scorer.
Some have talked of Tatar as being a valuable trade chip to help Detroit land some help on the blueline, but judging from his performance at the World Cup, his age, and his durability, Detroit might want to think about locking him up on a multi-year deal before he breaks out and scores 30 goals this year.
The Tampa Bay Lightning shelled out a lot of money to sign Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman this offseason, but if they think they’re going to get a favorable deal to keep Nikita Kucherov in Florida, they’ve got another thing coming. Kucherov, who is reportedly looking for about $6 million per year, has already proven himself by being a point-per-game player in the post-season for the Bolts.
But if the 23-year-old and his agent Scott Greenspun needed any more chips to bring to the bargaining table, they got them at the World Cup. Kucherov tied for the team lead in goals and points, and was second on Team Russia with 13 shots.
But where the 23-year-old Muscovite really shone was in his team’s biggest game of the tournament. Kucherov scored a goal and an assist and put up eight shots against Team Canada in the semis, proving once again that he is about as clutch as they come when the chips are down.