After completing a breakout season, Kris Russell was named to Team Canada for the upcoming World Hockey Championships. The Worlds are certainly not as high-profile as the Olympics, but it is still a fantastic level of hockey. It takes place in late spring, overlapping with the Stanley Cup playoffs. Typically teams who get eliminated in the first round of the Cup playoffs send a few players to play in the Worlds.
Russ broke out in a big way this season, after starting slow he started to show more and more confidence- leading breakouts and putting up points. He was arguably the team's best defenseman in the second half.
He's no stranger to the Canadian sweater, as he has suited up internationally before at the World Junior Championships. He will likely see a lot of powerplay time, and paired with Mark Giordano the Canadian powerplay has a chance at being very productive. Russ was part of the preliminary roster, which is made up of fifteen players. The rest will be named in the coming weeks. Here are the first fifteen:
Forwards: Rene Bourque, Steve Downie, Evander Kane, Steve Ott, Corey Perry, Rich Peverley, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares and Ray Whitney
Defense: Francois Beauchemin, Brent Burns, Mark Giordano, Kris Russell and Marc Staal
Goal: Chris Mason
Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle is practicing with the team, and could see some playing time.
Steve Mason reportedly turned down an offer to play for Team Canada so he can rest and heal some nagging injuries. R.J. Umberger also declined an invite to play for Team USA because he is taking the time to complete his university degree.