Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Nikita Zaitsev announced Friday he will play for Russia at the world hockey championship, which starts next week in Denmark.
Zaitsev, 26, was eliminated from the playoffs with the Leafs with Wednesday's Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins. The 26-year-old just completed his second season with the Leafs, scored five goals and added eight assists in 60 games this year.
Zaitsev has played at the worlds twice before, winning a bronze medal in 2016.
Winger Kasperi Kapanen, who was eligible to join the Toronto Marlies for the AHL playoffs, will play for Finland at the worlds.
Kapanen, 21, had seven goals and nine points in 38 games with the Maple Leafs this season. He added one goal in the team's seven playoff games. He has never before played at the worlds, but scored Finland's overtime-winning goal at the 2016 World Juniors.
Backup goaltender Curtis McElhinney will be attending the worlds to play for Team Canada, the Toronto Sun reports. McElhinney has never played for Canada at any tournament in his career.
McElhinney, 34, posted an 11-5-1 record this season with a career-best (minimum five starts) .934 save percentage and 2.15 goals against average. He joins Darcy Kuemper as the goaltenders on Canada's roster.
Matthews Heading Home
Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews said Friday he will not play for Team USA at the tournament.
Matthews scored 34 goals and posted 63 points in 62 games this season, but missed a month of action due to an upper-body injury. He had one goal and assist in seven playoff games.
Andersen Awaiting Word
Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is hoping to play for Denmark at the world hockey championship next week, but is awaiting clearance from the Maple Leafs.
Andersen told Denmark's TV2 he wants to play in the tournament, which will take place on home ice in Copenhagen and Herning, but needs to pass his end-of-season medical in Toronto.
"It is up to our general manager and doctors. Then we take it from there," Andersen said, as translated by Google.
Detroit Red Wings forward Frans Nielsen, who has been cleared to play for Denmark told TV2 he sees Andersen as a top five goaltender in the NHL and said he could be the difference in defeating Germany, Latvia and Norway in Group B.
The 28-year-old was eliminated from the playoffs with a 7-4 loss to the Boston Bruins in Game 7 on Wednesday. He made 66 starts during the regular season, posting a 38-21-5 record with a .918 save percentage and a 2.61 goals-against average. He had a 3-3 record with a 3.76 goals against average and an. 896 save percentage in the Leafs' first-round series against the Bruins.
Andersen has represented Denmark at the worlds four times, but has not played at the tournament since debuting in the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks in 2012. He was injured playing for his country in Olympic qualifying ahead of the 2016-17 season.