When the NHL hosts the next edition of the World Cup of Hockey, Edmonton Oilers superstar Leon Draisaitl might have to stay home and watch it on TV.
That is because one of the NHL’s reported plans for the event is to limit participation to just four nations: Canada, USA, Sweden, and Finland. Notable exclusions include not only Draisaitl’s Germany but also Russia, Czechia, and Slovakia.
This plan was first reported on by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman on the latest episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast with Jeff Marek.
“It sounds like it is going to be a weeklong event [in February 2025],” Friedman reported. “I think the biggest question now is four teams or six.
“Russia, due to geopolitics, they are not going to be there… If it’s four [teams], I think it’s Canada, USA, Sweden, and Finland.”
imagine having a World Cup of hockey and leon draisaitl is just twiddling his thumbs bc he’s not from canada america finland or sweden
— meg ✨ (@meggo1532) November 20, 2023
Draisaitl wouldn’t be the only German superstar missing out if the NHL chooses to go with only four teams in the next World Cup. Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stützle and Detroit Red Wings defenceman Moritz Seider are premier NHL players who would have to stay at home.
The event would also exclude NHL superstars such as Alexander Ovechkin (Russia), David Pastrnak (Czechia), and Roman Josi (Switzerland).
It’s something that Friedman would not be a fan of.
“My personal preference, I think you leave out too many players,” said Friedman. “I don’t want to leave anybody out.”
During the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, the NHL was able to get around including every small hockey nation by creating Team Europe, which included a patched-together roster of players from a variety of places that ranged from Germany to Switzerland to Slovakia.
Draisaitl lost in the finals against Canada while playing for Team Europe in 2016.
The Team Europe concept is not something the league is reportedly interested in doing at the 2025 World Cup.
“[The NHL doesn’t] wanna have the mish-mash teams again, they don’t wanna have the Team Europe, and they don’t wanna have the Team North America for the young players,” Friedman reported. “I just worry if you don’t do something like that, are you leaving too many players out.”
Hockey fans have long been clamouring for a best-on-best World Cup-style tournament since the NHL decided to stop participating in the Olympics after 2014. Though the proposed four-team format would mark the return of international competition among NHL players, it is hard to call it best-on-best when the second-highest-scoring player since 2020 is forced to sit at home.
Of course, nothing is set in stone for the next World Cup of Hockey, but if the NHL decides to stick to four teams, there are sure to be plenty of fans upset to see some of the league’s brightest stars relegated to the sidelines for a premier event.