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Early Preview of 2019 Ice Hockey World Championships

The 2019 Men’s Ice Hockey World Championships will take place in Slovakia May 10-26, but it’s never too early to scope out the main contenders for the trophy.

Canada has been drawn in Group A alongside the USA, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Denmark, France, and Great Britain. Group B features Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Norway, Latvia, Austria, and Italy.

As always, the annual tournament will take place during the Stanley Cup playoffs, meaning many of the NHL’s top players won’t be available to represent their countries. While squads won’t be announced until a couple weeks before the tournament, history can provide a good guide to each team’s chances.

Betting markets can provide a reliable guide to which countries have a chance of winning this tournament and which don’t. Judging by the Ice Hockey world cup odds, six teams have a realistic chance of winning the tournament. Canada is the current odds favorite, but will face stiff competition from traditional rivals like Russia, Sweden, and the USA.

Canada

Participations: 72

Wins: 26

Top three: 49

Canada finished outside the top three last year, but is an early favorite in 2019 Ice Hockey World Championship betting odds. With more NHL players than any other country, Canada’s chances depend on which teams go to the Stanley Cup playoffs and which release their players for the tournament. But even if it has to do without the likes of the Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid or Tampa Bay Lightning’s Brayden Point, Team Canada should still have the depth to compete.

Sweden

Participations: 77

Wins: 11

Top three: 47

The two-time defending champs will again be Canada’s toughest opponent at the Hockey World Champs. The Swedes have lost just one game at this tournament in the last two years. Canadians are still stinging from the 2017 world cup final, which Sweden won in a shootout. Sweden will be hoping at least one of Elias Lindholm, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mika Zibanejad can lead the offense.

Russia

Participations: 61 (27 as Russia, 34 as USSR)

Wins: 27

Top three: 46

Russia is the only team to have been crowned world champs more times than Canada, although its last title was in 2014. The Russians are less reliant on NHL players than their Canadian and Swedish rivals, although that doesn’t mean they are immune to the playoffs schedule. If current NHL scoring leader Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning somehow makes an appearance – watch out.

Finland

Participations: 65

Wins: 2

Top three: 13

Finland has a secret advantage at this tournament, having won the only other world champs to be held in Slovakia back in 2011. Of course, the Finns will come into the 2019 Ice Hockey World Championship with a completely different squad, but that doesn’t mean they should be disregarded. Finland isn’t so reliant on NHL players, although its top two scorers from last year’s tournament, Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen, both play for the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. It’s a good thing, then, that the Hurricanes look like missing out on the playoffs.

Czech Republic

Participations: 78 (26 as Czech Republic, 52 as Czechoslovakia)

Wins: 12

Top three: 46

The Czechs should enjoy plenty of crowd support given this tournament is being played across the border in Slovakia. Hockey fans aged 30+ might remember the glory years of 1999-2001 when the Czechs were world champions three years in a row. They’re an outside chance to repeat that success this year.

USA

Participations: 70

Wins: 2

Top three: 19

It seems USA Hockey gets criticized every year for not sending its best team. The United States hasn’t won the hockey world cup since 1960, and whether or not they win this year depends largely on the makeup of the squad they send to Slovakia.

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