The Florida Panthers may have missed the Stanley Cup playoffs (again), but at least a handful of their young ones got to suit up at the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Belarus. With Team USA and Canada out (Russia - Finland play for gold today), let's take a quick look at how they fared.
Let's get started with the three Cats who saw time with the Peter Laviolette-coached American team:
In eight games, Shore scored a goal (an absolutely beautiful shorthanded one to be exact) and added one assist. He finished the tournament with 6 shots on goal, 2 PIM and a -1 rating, while averaging 9:44 TOI. In the face-off circle, the young pivot went a mediocre 19/43. Shore was part of the team's fourth line for the entirety of the tournament. Towards the end of the opening round, his play garnered increased ice time and he responded to the challenge well. Unfortunately, after playing two fine games in a row, Laviolette went heavy minutes for the more senior players on the roster in the quarterfinal loss to the Czech Republic and cut Shore's ice team back down.
Best game: I'm going to bypass Shore's gorgeous goal against Germany and choose the Finland game where he set-up Tyler Johnson's clinching goal and played a tournament high 13:30 in the 3-1 win. This was the most impressive win for the Americans in the opening round and Shore was definitely involved in the outcome.
In seven games, Trocheck did not register a point, which was a bit of a disappointment. He finished the tournament with 9 shots on goal, 4 PIM, and a -1 rating, while averaging 11:38. The Pittsburgh native did better in the face-off dot, where he went 35/62. Trocheck started off centering the Americans' second line, but after two games in this role, found himslef scratched for the meeting with Russia. He returned to spend some time on the fourth before finishing out on centering the third line.
Best game: Trocheck's best came in the disappointing finisher against the Czechs. The young center won 7/9 draws and had a third period shot on goal while playing 13:32 in a very strong third line performance. Encouraging to see Trocheck play solid hockey in the game that carried the most pressure.
Like Shore, Hayes played in all eight games for Team USA. He tallied a single assist during the tourney, to go with 13 shots on goal, 2 PIM and a -2 rating. He averaged 9:20 TOI while toiling on the team's fourth line. Hayes gave a good effort in his limited ice time, the 13 shots were eighth-best on the team, but didn't get rewarded with any numbers, which may have gotten him more playing time.
Best game: Hayes' finest came in the opener against Belarus, which the US won by a 6-1 count, and fittingly enough, he was named the Americans' Best Player. He picked up his only point, for setting up a Colin McDonald goal, in this tilt while playing 10:31 and finishing +2.
Now let's look at the Florida duo that suited up for Team Canada:
In eight games, Huberdeau scored a goal and added four assists to finish with five points, tops among all the participating Panthers. He closed the tournament with 10 shots on goal, 2 PIM and a solid +5 rating, while averaging 12:22 TOI. After going scoreless in the opener, Huberdeau, starting off mostly on the fourth line, strung together a five-game point streak and even found himself on Canada's top line for a game. He did not register a point in his final two games, but as Panther fan, this writer was encouraged to see some signs of offensive life from Huberdeau after his lackluster sophomore NHL season. Although more goals (he failed on a penalty shot) and shots would have been nice to see, this was definitely a step in the right direction.
Best game: After drawing a penalty shot in the first, Huberdeau set up Brayden Schenn for a second period tally to erase a 2-0 deficit to Sweden, in a game Canada eventually won 3-2 in overtime. The shifty winger was named Canada's Best Player for this performance that saw him finish with 2 shots on goal in 13:02 TOI.
In eight games, Gudbranson scored a goal against France for his only point. He finished the tournament with 10 shots on goal, 6 PIM and a +7 rating, while averaging 12:06 TOI. He played on Canada's third defensive pairing with Nashville's Ryan Ellis and the duo acquitted themselves quite well throughout, although coach Dave Tippett did cut their ice time as the tournament came to an abrupt close for those donning the maple leaf. Gudbranson did a nice job of keeping his own end clean, was active offensively with the 10 shots, and played under control for the most part. A job well done for the physical blueliner, an experience which will only benefit him when he returns to Sunrise for training camp in the fall.
Best game: I'll go with Canada's 6-1 rout over weak-sister Italy. Gudbranson logged a tournament-high 16:39 TOI in this one and finished with 2 shots on goal to go with a +2 rating.