Five Florida Panthers among early invites to IIHF World Championships

Youngsters Trocheck, Shore and Hayes to don the Red, White and Blue. Huberdeau and Gudbranson to rep Canada.

Team USA announced the first fifteen choices for its roster for the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Among the selections were Florida Panthers forwards Jimmy Hayes, Drew Shore and Vincent Trocheck.

The tournament will run from May 9-25. Peter Laviolette will be running the U.S. bench this time around. Joe Sacco, Phil Housley and Don Granato will be assist Laviolette.

The other players named to the American squad in the first wave were defenseman Seth Jones, Jacob Trouba, Jeff Petry, Jake Gardiner, Jake McCabe, and Matt Donovan. Forwards include Jimmy's little brother Kevin Hayes, former Panther Peter Mueller, Brock Nelson, Craig Smith, and Tim Stapleton. UMass Lowell goaltender Connor Hellebuyck rounds out the first group of selectees.

With spots still open I would expect center Nick Bjugstad, who was part of last year's bronze-winning entry, to be strongly considered.

And from north of the 49th parallel, Cats' Jonathan Huberdeau and Erik Gudbranson were named to the Team Canada preliminary roster along with James Reimer, Morgan Rielly, Joel Ward, Troy Brouwer, Kevin Bieksa, Sean Monahan, Kyle Turris, Marc Methot, Mark Scheifele, Cody Hodgson, David Perron and ex-Panther defender Jason Garrison.

Phoenix Coyotes bench boss Dave Tippett will be Canada's head coach. Tippett will assisted by Paul Maurice and ex-Florida coach Peter DeBoer.

We may not have the playoffs, but we'll always have Minsk.