After the New Jersey Devils failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs and the Albany Devils were eliminated from contention to make the Calder Cup playoffs, Stefan Matteau will continue his hockey season with Team USA at the IIHF Men’s World Hockey Championships. The World Championships take place from May 1-17 in Ostrava and Prague in the Czech Republic.
Joining him in the Czech Republic will be Tuomo Ruutu, who will suit up for Finland and young Jacob Josefson, who will play for Sweden.
The tournament, which features NHL players whose season has ended (either by means of not qualifying for the playoffs or via early exit from the playoffs) will be Matteau’s first – he represented the USA in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship and was also a member of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program from 2010 to 2012, according to the Devils official website. The 21-year old Chicago native is looking to make an impact for the Men’s National Team at a high level and brings a lot of value to the United States team.
According to the Devils’ website, Matteau played in 61 AHL games for Albany amassing 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points. When New Jersey recalled him in March, he had one goal in seven NHL games. It was his first NHL action since 2013, the lockout shortened season after he was drafted in the first round by New Jersey in 2012.
For Josefson, it will also be his first World Championship. He previously represented Sweden in the World Juniors in 2009 and 2010.
Ruutu is the veteran when it comes to international play. He has represented Finland in the 2001, 2002 and 2003 World Juniors, the 2005 World Cup of Hockey, the World Championships in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011 and the Olympics in 2010. This will be his fifth World Championship tournament.
Absent from the United States team is Andy Greene. Greene has been off USA Hockey’s radar for some time and, as discussed by Ken Daneyko on the MSG+ broadcast of the Devils versus Panthers season finale, many were sure this would be the year that the Devils’ top defenseman would be targeted to represent his country in international play. It was not reported on the Devils’ website if Greene was offered a spot and turned it down, or was simply not considered for a place on Team USA.
If it is the latter, it confirms many Devils fans frustrations about lack of acknowledgement for Andy Greene. Greene is a solid defenseman who does the little things right. He is a great skater who is always in position. He anchors the Devils defense admirably and is a mentor to the many young d-men the Devils have on their roster. Greene has evolved into one of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League due to his defensive instinct and his ability to jump into the play offensively when he can. He rarely makes mistakes and is very durable (he played in all 82 games this season and last).
Hopefully, Andy Greene will get another chance to represent the United States in a major tournament down the line (he did play in the 2010 World Championships; however that is his only appearance in the red, white and blue). But in the meantime, congratulations to the Devils who are representing their respective countries. It may not be the under the greatest of circumstances, but hopefully Matteau, Ruutu and Josefson do well individually and help their teams as they seek international hockey gold and glory.