Earlier, I noted that Andy Greene has accepted an invite to play for the United States in the 2010 IIHF World Championships. It'll be his first time as a professional representing his nation, a great reward to a great 2009-10.
Greene will not be the only Devil to represent his nation in this tournament. According to the Devils' official website, Ilya Kovalchuk will also be going to Germany to represent Russia in the World Championships.
If he performs anything like he did in the 2008 and 2009 World Championships, Russia should have a fantastic shot at winning a third straight gold medal at the World Championships. Kovalchuk scored the game winning goal in 2008 in the gold medal final, capping off a 2 goal, 6 assist performance in 8 games. In 2009, Kovalchuk was named tournament MVP as he went out and put up 5 goals and 9 assists in 9 games en route to a second straight gold medal for Russia. He knows what to expect and has had serious success recently at this tournament; look for him to make a huge impact. Look for his agent and his potential suitors to hope he does well and doesn't get hurt.
Add Russia's disappointing 2010 Winter Olympics - 6th place, worst ever finish at the Olympics - to the mix and I would have to think Russia will be especially motivated to succeed in the 2010 World Championships. On top of that, the Russian roster will feature Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Frolov, and Alexander Semin among others; a definite infusion of firepower to the Russian roster.
Unfortunately, Anssi Salmela will not be able to represent Finland. According to his agent, Jay Grossman, he hurt his knee at the LG Games - a short annual international tournament between Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Russia. Tom Gulitti confirmed the news at Fire & Ice and reports that Salmela will come to New Jersey for further treatment. Terrible news, especially since it came from just the skate hitting a rut in the ice. He's represented Finland before, and missing out on a chance to do it again due to injury (especially while representing your country) is just unfortunate. Hopefully, it's not too serious of an injury and he'll recover.
The 2010 IIHF World Championships will begin on Friday, May 7 in Gelsenkirchen, as the US will take on Germany. Follow the stats from the tournament at the IIHF's own 2010 WC statistics page - it's bare now but soon it'll be filled with links to unwieldy PDF files of everything. I'm not sure what the television coverage will be, but per the Wikipedia site apparently Universal Sports has the US rights and TSN has the Canadian rights. I'll put up daily FanShot chats for both WC and Playoff discussion every day regardless.
How do you think Greene and Kovalchuk will do in the WCs? Does it suck that the only other Devils in the system still playing hockey are prospects Alexander Urbom, Harry Young, and Adam Henrique in the Memorial Cup? (Yeah, it does.) Do you think Russia will win their third straight WCs? Let me know in the comments.