I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see the fuzzy-cheeked collection of players known as Team North America get after it at the World Cup of Hockey with Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers leading the way.

While that might not be a take you expect from somebody of my vintage who has been accused from time to time of yelling and telling kids to stay the hell off my lawn – it’s true – TNA, a collection of the best and brightest 23-and-under players from the NHL, is the most intriguing team at the tournament for me.

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As somebody who keeps tabs on the Oilers, McDavid is obviously the main reason for that intrigue, but when I look up and down the roster that has been put together by GM Pete Chiarelli and will be coached by Oiler bench boss Todd McLellan, I not only see the future of the NHL but a line-up that might just be good enough to win the tournament.

Based on the lines that played together at the TNA skate today – the Tweet from Amanda Stein of TSN 690 that got my attention is here – McLellan will have a ridiculous amount of speed and skill in his top nine to throw at opposing teams, and it’s not like the blue line and goaltending on Team Baby Face is chopped liver, either.


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Here’s what the forwards looked like at the TNA practice today:

Jonathan Drouin-Connor McDavid-Mark Scheifele

Johnny Gaudreau-Jack Eichel-Brandon Saad

Auston Matthews-RNH-Nathan MacKinnon

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Dylan Larkin/J.T. Miller-Sean Couturier-Vincent Trocheck

Even without injured Sean Monahan (Trocheck subs in for him in the bottom six), that’s a whole lot of pizzazz and firepower up front, led by McDavid. The lines will be tweaked over the duration of the tournament, of course, but this is the forward group that McLellan has at his disposal.

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Back on the blueline, it’ll be Aaron Ekblad, Shayne Gostisbehere, Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, Colton Parayko, Morgan Rielly and Jacob Trouba. The goaltenders on TNA are John Gibson, Connor Hellebuyck and Matt Murray.

As you’d expect, the biggest question about this group is lack of experience, relative to other line-ups in the tournament, like Team Canada. Said Chiarelli: “The biggest thing is the youth. We’re talking about how to play in certain zones; how to leverage our best assets, which we feel is the young legs. The speed. But you don’t really have the Godfathers. Guys who, when stuff comes down, can settle everyone down.”



Godfathers? No. Yes, experience, or lack of same, is going to play into the things. It always does. Team Canada, not exactly a bunch of lunch-bucket guys, has plenty of it, as does every other roster in the tourney. That said, the kind of raw talent TNA brings to the table with McDavid and the rest, tends to speed things along the learning curve rather nicely. McDavid is Exhibit A in that.

Given all the fanfare that accompanied him into the league last season, McDavid didn’t have benefit of being able to sneak up on anybody as a rookie. His name was circled on the white board of every opposing team he faced and he still exceeded expectations – at least mine – with 48 points in 45 games. On a team challenged to score, McDavid’s 1.07 PPG was third-best in the entire league. So much for easing his way into things.

The way I see, a tournament like the World Cup of Hockey is exactly the kind of spotlight a player as talented and competitive as McDavid, still only 19, will grab by the throat and excel in. It’s the best of the best, the kind of measuring stick a player like McDavid, who has been measured since before he was a teenager, relishes. 

I don’t know if TNA can overcome their collective lack of experience and parlay all that speed and skill into winning the World Cup of Hockey, but I’m not going to bet against them. I can’t say with certainty McDavid will top the list of tournament scorers, given all the big marquee names we’ll see, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Kids these days. It’s going to be fun.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.


  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    In a short tourney like this, I would argue that luck and goaltending play a bigger role than “experience”.

    John Gibson and Matt Murray are good enough to steal games, so Team NA can definitely win.

    I’ll be cheering for:
    1. Team NA
    2. No Oilers to get hurt, and
    3. This fake tournament to be a TOTAL BUST so that the NHL will have more incentive to play in the Olympics.

  • 24_McClelland

    I don’t think I can fully commit as a fan to a tournament that includes multi-nationality teams in North America & Europe.

    That said, this is the one tournament where I will be cheering against Team Canada if and when they play team North America.

    I actually won’t be disappointed if a Team Establishment Canada, managed by 5 guys including Doug Armstrong, and coached by Babcock and 4 other guys get their asses handed to them. I don’t have any skin in the game really with the staff or its roster.

    Please, all Oilers stay healthy.

    • ComeAtMeDog

      I don’t know about cheering against Canada until u lead me with the Babcock group thing ..

      It’s the oilers TNA vs the world !!!

      Let’s go MCdavid and Nuge .

      Get off to a hot start with no injuries

    • Seanaconda

      You can’t be a fan but you’re cheering for the team you think ruins the tournament hahah.

      Do you like the reider cup?

      As long as the Olympics are around I’m fine with the world cup having the 2 non national teams so it keeps the tournaments different

      Obviously the world cup /canada cup stopped working when the Olympics started allowing nhl player’s because they were basically the same tournament with a 3 game final vs a 1 game final

  • Spydyr

    Will the guys play for real or will it be a no hit Tournament?

    That will effect the outcome.

    IMO it will start with little hitting but as the Tournament progresses the intensity will pick up. These type of players do not like to lose.

  • ubermiguel

    These kids are used to tournaments like the U18 and Memorial Cup. I think they’ll be able to build a cohesive unit quickly and won’t need any warm up time, watch them come out of the gate quickly.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Team N.A. will be a hoot to watch when they have the puck. If they face Canada though, getting the puck will be an issue.

    I recognized McDavid in the selfie, but who are those other guys? Time to start collecting hockey cards again. Got em, got em, got em, need em.

  • Jordan88

    Can some one answer me why Korpikoski is on Team Finland and Jesse Puljuarvi is not?

    Also I feel like if Canada and TNA meet in the final. It will be like when Homer could not pick which kid to cheer for when Bart and Lisa played hockey.

  • Thumby

    I know I’m going to get trashed to hell over this but….the misuse of affect and effect bugs the crap out of me…lets be better Oilers Nation!

    Choose Your Words
    Choosing between affect and effect can be scary. Think of Edgar Allen Poe and his RAVEN: Remember Affect Verb Effect Noun. You can’t affect the creepy poem by reading it, but you can enjoy the effect of a talking bird.

    In everyday speech, affect is a verb. It means to influence something, such as in the headline from the Albuquerque News,

    Downed Power Line Affects PNM Customers

    The downed power line had an impact on some power customers: they were without electricity overnight.

    Effect is mostly commonly used as a noun meaning the result or impact of something, an outcome. If there’s “a/an/the” in front of it, it’s an effect. The second sentence is from a story about the outcome of long-term sleeping trouble,

    The Effect of Persistent Sleepiness

    Adding to the confusion, effect can also be used as a verb to mean to produce or to cause to come into being. Here’s an example that uses it correctly,

    A government unable to effect any change is a government that will produce no surprises.

    Put another way, a government that can’t produce change won’t be able to produce surprises; it will be predictable.

    Most of the time, you’ll want affect as a verb meaning to influence something and effect for the something that was influenced. The difference between affect and effect is so slippery that people have started using “impact” as a verb instead. Don’t be one of them! Another trick is to remember that affect comes first alphabetically, and an action (to affect) has to occur before you can have a result (an effect).