Friday, December 21, 2012

The Spengler Cup Is Stacked This Year

The holidays for us are all about eating, binge drinking, and hockey. The World Juniors occupy most of our hockey watching, but there is also another tournament going on that catches our eye - the Spengler Cup. It's one of the oldest hockey tourneys in the world and has some solid history worth checking out. With the NHL Lockout still going strong, the Spengler Cup is going to have one its best tournaments ever with more than a few familiar names participating in the tournament this year.

The NHL Lockout has sent plenty of NHLers to Europe and some of those players will be suiting up at the annual holiday tournament in Davos, Switzerland. The biggest team to stock up on NHL talent is Team Canada who will be looking for their first Gold at the tourney since 2007.

Let's take a look at Team Canada's roster:
Names that immediately jump out at you include Matt Duchene, Jason Spezza, John Tavares, Patrice Bergeron, Sam Gagner, Tyler Seguin and Captain Canada himself, Ryan Smyth. But they also have some other NHLs backstopping them in Jason Demers, Carlo Coliacovo, Jonathan Bernier and Devan Dubnyk. It's safe to say this is easily the best team Canada has ever sent to the Spenger.

They won't the be the lone NHL talent participating, as most of the other teams will be boasting a few on their rosters as well:

HC DAVOS

Joe Thornton and Loui Eriksson will be representing the host team at the tournament, but it looks like Rick Nash is still nursing a groin injury and may not play. Thanks to a rule that allows teams 4 temporary reinforcements from non-participating teams to suit up for competing teams, Patrick Kane, will be representing HC Davos at the tournament despite playing for EHC Biel in the Swiss NLA. It also looks like they'll be getting help from Habs d-man Raphael Diaz and Swiss NLA leading scorer, Damien Brunner.

HC FRIBOURG-GOTTÉRON

The current top team in the Swiss NLA team in the tourney features Habs forward, David Desharnais, but will also be getting some reinforcement help in Bruno Gervais, Patric Hörnqvist, Max Talbot and Cory Schneider. That's some decent help for a team that is already playing so strong in their league and they should be contenders for the Spengler Cup.

ADLER MANNHEIM 

The top team from Germany's Deutsche Eishockey Liga will have some German NHLers representing them in Dennis Seidenberg, Marcel Goc, and Jochen Hecht. Jason Pominville is currently playing for Mannheim, and it's expected that he'll suit up on a very strong Mannheim team to challenge for Gold. Mannheim will also get some help from Nick Bonino who's been playing in Italy's 2nd divison and absolutely lighting it up with 46 points in 17 games. Another NHL addition for Adler is Bonino's Anaheim Ducks teammate, Luca Sbisa, who is playing for Lugano in the Swiss NLA.

HC VITKOVICE STEEL

Roman Polak and Filip Kuba are the only current NHLers on the Czech Extraliga team's roster, but they'll also have former NHLer and shootout star, Marek Malik, joining them. You'd expect Vitkovice to get some reinforcement help from other Czech teams as other teams stock up, but they'll be in a bind as their season continues through the Spengler Cup and may not want to release any players as teams battle for playoff spots with only 20 games remaining in their season.

SALAVET YULAEV UFA

The middle of the pack-KHL team sports some fantastic ex-NHL draft busts including Nikita Filatov (6th overall, 2008) and Alexander Svitov (3rd overall, 2001), and Oleg Saprykin (11th overall, 1999). A KHL team has advanced to the finals the past 5 years and won 3 of them, so the pressure will be on the team from Ufa to represent the rival league of the NHL in the season in which the KHL can really attract some attention.

The tourney kicks off Boxing Day and with no NHL hockey, the World Juniors being played in the early morning, and some star power participating it should make for some great afternoon hockey to watch.

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