The 2022 FIFA World Cup has officially begun, and soccer fans from all across the world are tuned-in to the events going on in Qatar. This is one of the biggest sporting events in the world, so chances are that you’ve probably heard somebody talking about it by now. But what you may not have heard is that we recently received an update on when the next World Cup of Hockey will be held.
On Nov. 11, the NHL and NHL Players’ Association announced that the World Cup of Hockey has been pushed back to February of 2025. That may be a little over two years from now, but it’s never too early to get an idea of which players may be representatives for their respective countries. The Detroit Red Wings are no exception.
At this point in time, the Red Wings are not a team that is overflowing with players that are the best their homelands have to offer. However, they still have plenty of players that should receive some consideration when the nations assemble their rosters. That includes players on their roster right now as well as prospects that are in their system.
Here are some early Red Wings candidates to participate in the 2025 World Cup of Hockey.
Team USA: Dylan Larkin; Maybe Derek Lalonde
It’s hard to believe, but Dylan Larkin has yet to represent the United States on the Olympic or World Cup stage. Multiple factors have a played a role, including the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the NHL’s reluctance to send its players to the Olympics. When the last World Cup of Hockey was played, a 20-year-old Larkin played for Team North America, a team assembled of North America’s best U-23 players. By the time the next tournament rolls around, the Red Wings’ captain will be 28 years old and ready to be a key contributor for the Americans.
Team USA will be led by the likes of Auston Matthews, Jack Hughes, Adam Fox and Trevor Zegras, paving the way for Larkin to play something of a “big brother” role for the rest of his teammates. Because of this, as well as the fact that he is already the captain of an Original Six franchise, it would not be surprising if Larkin was one of the team captains when the tournament begins.
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Another candidate to join Team USA is the Red Wings’ coach, Derek Lalonde. While he is only in his first season behind the bench in Detroit, he has already built up a solid pedigree for himself. The Buffalo, New York native has two championship rings as a member of Jon Cooper’s staff in Tampa Bay, and he has a history of leading winning programs wherever he has gone. If that’s not enough, also consider that Lalonde has the Red Wings on pace to have their best start through 20 games since the 2014-15 season.
Make no mistake: I’m not suggesting Lalonde will be the head coach of Team USA – Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan likely already has that in the bag. However, if Lalonde can continue to turn the Red Wings’ fortunes around, he’ll be one of many American head coaches that will deserve some consideration as one of Sullivan’s assistants.
Team Finland: Ville Husso
It wasn’t that long ago that Finland was considered THE top producer of quality goaltenders in the world. Guys like Pekka Rinne, Mikka Kiprusoff, and others established a long line of elite NHL goaltenders. While the current generation of guys have not yet achieved the legendary status of their predecessors, there are still plenty of quality Finnish goaltenders, including one that currently plays his home games at Little Caesars Arena.
In his first season with the Red Wings, Ville Husso has made a believer out of the Hockeytown faithful. Through his first 12 games wearing the winged wheel, he has a record of 7-2-3, two shutouts, a 2.55 goals-against average and a .916 save-percentage. His play this season has been so solid that Lalonde has pretty much abandoned his original intent of using Husso and Alex Nedeljkovic in a 1A/1B tandem. Instead, Husso currently has twice as many starts this season (12) as Nedeljkovic (six).
Nashville Predators goalie Juuse Saros currently projects as Team Finland’s starter at the World Cup of Hockey, but Husso is making a strong case that he is currently the second-best Finnish goalie in the world. If the Red Wings goaltender continues what he’s been doing between now and 2025, Team Finland will likely enter the tournament with one of the best goaltending duos in the tournament.
Team Czechia: Filip Hronek & Dominik Kubalik; Maybe Jakub Vrana & Filip Zadina
Team Czechia rarely gets the respect it deserves at these international tournaments. In the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the Czechs’ forward group included David Pastrnak, Ondrej Palat and Jakub Voracek, but a lack of depth down their lineup made it difficult for them to keep up with the juggernaut Team Canada or even the high-flying Team North America. Still, there was a lot of talent on the their roster, and that should still be true in 2025.
Defenseman Filip Hronek is currently the Red Wings’ most-likely player to represent Team Czechia due, in part, to the fact that the Czechs aren’t exactly loaded on the blue line. In fact, Hronek, who will be 27 years old at the time of the tournament, likely projects as a top-pairing defenseman for the Czechs, at least as of this writing. His offensive instincts would help spur a Czechia offense that could feature a few of his Red Wings teammates.
While most fans associate the Red Wings with their love of Swedish players, it’s clear that there’s a healthy dose of Czechia in the locker room as well. Dominik Kubalik, who currently leads the Red Wings with nine goals in 18 games, has hit it off right away with Hronek and currently projects to join him on Team Czechia. Two others that could join Kubalik in the forward group are Jakub Vrana and Filip Zadina, two wingers that are currently sidelined. When he is healthy and playing, Vrana is one of the most underrated scorers in the NHL (22 goals in 39 games with the Red Wings), and his shot would be a welcome addition to the Czechia offense. While Zadina has had his struggles over the past couple of seasons, his defensive game has shown growth since he was drafted in 2018, and there remains a chance that he finally breaks out between now and 2025.
If these four players do, in fact, join Team Czechia at the next World Cup of Hockey, Red Wings fans may have to hedge their bets between the Czechs and Team Sweden. Speaking of which….
Team Sweden: Lucas Raymond; Maybe Simon Edvinsson
While their system is flooded with players that hail from Sweden, Team Sweden does not project to be flooded with Red Wings. Sweden is arguably the second-best nation in the world when it comes to producing hockey players, so there are always going to be a ton of great Swedish players that simply don’t make the cut. However, the Red Wings still have at least one player that seems like a lock to wear Team Sweden’s blue and yellow uniform, and there’s a chance that that player will not be alone.
Lucas Raymond, the Red Wings’ top pick in the 2020 draft, has had a huge impact on the Red Wings’ offense since arriving in the Fall of 2021. In his first 100 NHL games, he has 29 goals and 69 points, and his play at both ends of the ice is reminiscent of players that are 10 years older than him. He’ll be going on 23 years old when this tournament takes place, and chances are that his game will have taken another step or two, maybe even three, along the way. He’s already a top-six winger in Detroit, and that could also be the case for Team Sweden, a group that should have a real shot at winning the tournament.
While it currently looks like a long shot, another one of the Red Wings’ recent first round picks has a shot at joining Raymond on Team Sweden. That, of course, is Simon Edvinsson, a skillful defenseman standing at 6-foot-6 that is currently showing well for himself with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League. Drafted sixth overall in 2021, he would be just 22 years old when the next World Cup of Hockey rolls around, but he should at least be on Team Sweden’s radar by then. His blend of size and skill is what makes him the Red Wings’ top prospect, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he made his way to Detroit before the end of this season.
Edvinsson may not be on the team as anything more than a seventh/depth defenseman, but it’s important to note that Team Canada brought a 21-year-old Drew Doughty to the Winter Olympics back in 2010; no amount of pedigree can overcome talent and, like Raymond, Edvinsson’s game should have taken a few steps forward by the time Team Sweden assembles their World Cup roster. It’s early, but don’t count him out of this discussion.
Team Europe: Moritz Seider; Maybe Marco Kasper
Last, but not least, is Team Europe, the team that assembles all the best players from European countries that do not have their own team at the tournament. This includes Germany and Austria, two countries which could be represented by a pair of Red Wings.
As Germany continues to pump out quality NHL players, there is a discussion to be had about whether or not they should get their own team. That is more than likely not in the cards for 2025, but Germany should be well-represented on Team Europe, including the nation’s top defenseman: Moritz Seider.
Seider will be 24 years old when this tournament takes place, and he may be regarded as one of the best defenseman in the NHL by the time Team Europe is assembling their roster. The 2022 Calder Trophy winner offers a blend of skill, size and physicality that is outside the usual stereotype of what European hockey is all about. His “reverse hit” is becoming known leaguewide, and he has proven himself more than capable of shouldering big minutes for his team. Just like Hronek with Team Czechia, Seider is virtually a slam-dunk to be a top-pairing defender for Team Europe at this tournament.
Another current Red Wings prospect that may play in this tournament is their most recent first round pick, Austrian forward Marco Kasper. Though he would be just 20 years old at the time of this tournament, he already plays like a man well beyond his age, showcasing top-notch skill in the Swedish Hockey League this season (10 points in 17 games), as well as a work ethic that is second to none. He already had a lot of NHL-ready traits before the Red Wings drafted him eighth overall, and those traits should only get better between now and 2025.
While Kasper likely wouldn’t be on Team Europe as anything more than a fourth line/depth forward, his mature two-way game as well as his willingness to play in the trenches would be an asset to the Europeans. It may be a bit bold to project him to this roster, but he already plays a game tailor-made for tournament play when everything is on the line. That he seems to raise his ceiling every season is an added plus.
Red Wings Will Be Well-Represented
No matter how many of the Red Wings’ fringe candidates do take part in the next World Cup of Hockey, they have enough shoo-ins that fans should still have plenty of familiar faces to follow along with. While the fun of international tournaments is cheering for your home country, there is always something cool about seeing guys from the home team have success on the international stage. That is especially true of players that maybe are a bit underrated across the NHL, a category that quite a few Red Wings probably fall into.
Still, this tournament is years away and much can happen between now and then. But as the World Cup rages on in Qatar, it’s hard not to get excited about hockey’s World Cup and who may get the opportunity to wear their country’s colors. We won’t find out anytime soon, though, so soccer will have to do for now.
I am a Western Michigan University alum whose passion for hockey knows no limits. Dr. Pepper enthusiast. Catch me and my fellow Red Wings writers’ YouTube show “The Hockey Writers Grind Line” which drops every Saturday.