Hockey Canada announced the first 18 members of its 2017 IIHF World Championship squad set to take part in the tournament beginning next month in Paris and Cologne, Germany.
Five players return from the 2016 team that captured gold in Calvin Pickard and Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, Michael Matheson of the Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O'Reilly and Mark Scheifele of the Winnipeg Jets.
The selections were made by Canada general manager Ron Hextall.
“It’s always special when you get to represent your country, and you can see it from the quality of our initial list of players who will join us at Worlds,” said Hextall in a release. “Between them, these players have made 17 appearances at this very event, including 9 players who’ve come away as gold-medallists for Canada, and they can play a big role in helping set the tone for this team. Our coaches have a lot to work with, and we will be ready to ice a competitive team in Paris for our opening game on May 5.”
Pickard will be joined in net by Eric Comrie of the Winnipeg Jets.
On the blue line along with Matheson are Panthers teammate Jason Demers, Tyson Barrie of the Avalanche, the New York Islanders' Calvin de Haan and Josh Morrissey of the Jets.
Up front with Duchene, O'Reilly and Schiefele are Philadelphia Flyers quartet Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux, Travis Konecny and Wayne Simmonds, Nathan MacKinnon of the Avs, Tampa Bay Lightning rookie Brayden Point and Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Canada will head to Switzerland for a pre-tournament camp and take on the Swiss in an exhibition game on May 2 in Geneva.
Canada's opening preliminary-round game will be against the Czechs and the first phase of the tournament carries on until May 16. The gold-medal game goes on May 21.
All games will be broadcast by TSN.