Saku Koivu to join Finland

Teams bulk up as NHLers become available

05.05.2008
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Saku Koivu will play his first game with the national team since the 2006 Olympic final. Photo: Europhoto/Jani Rajamaki

QUEBEC CITY AND HALIFAX – The Finnish Ice Hockey Association has announced that Saku Koivu will join Team Finland on Wednesday. It will be the first appearance with the national team for the longtime Montreal Canadiens captain since they lost the final of the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.

Koivu finished fifth in the Canadiens’ scoring this season, with 56 points in 77 games. In the playoffs, Koivu picked up nine points in seven games.
 
He will join the team most likely on Wednesday, but it is still unclear whether he will play already in Finland's game against Slovakia. The tournament will be Koivu’s seventh World Championship.

Belarus
has added four NHLers for its game against Switzerland on Monday: defenceman Ruslan Salei (Colorado Avalanche) and forwards Andrei Kostitsyn, Sergei Kostitsyn, and Mikhail Grabovsky (Montreal Canadiens).

Salei has played at three previous IIHF World Championships (1998, 2000, 2001) and was a member of the 2002 Belarusian Olympic team. Andrei Kostitsyn, a three-time Worlds participant, racked up five points in his last stint in Riga 2006, while his younger brother Sergei will make his World Championship debut. Grabovsky played in 2005 and 2006, and has 14 points in 13 career tournament games. None of them played for Belarus last year, and the country finished 11th in Moscow after a 6th place in 2006.

Russia, which currently has just one healthy goalie in Mikhail Biryukov, has applied for insurance to bring in Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks. In the meantime, Russia used Kevin Desfosses of the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts at its practice Monday morning. The 21-year-old goalie, who had a 2.97 GAA and 90.8 save percentage in 59 games this season, was recruited temporarily by former Remparts teammate and current Team Russia player Alexander Radulov.

The management confirmed that NY Rangers defenceman Fedor Tyutin will be added to the Russian roster on May 7, the day when all teams can add two more players to their rosters.

The Czech Republic team management has confirmed that forward Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens) is joining the team on Wednesday. The Czechs are also trying to get a clearance from the New York Rangers for forward Petr Prucha and defenceman Michal Rozsival.

Norway has added a pair of players. Defenceman Erik Ryman, who plays for AIK in Stockholm, and Eirik Skadsdammen, a forward with Storhamar, were named to the team in time for today's game against Finland.

Goaltender Peter Budaj is also expected to be added to the Slovakia roster for tonight's game against Germany.

Sweden added three players to its roster on Monday. Forward Michael Holmqvist (Frolunda Gothenburg) and defenceman Alexander Edler (Vancouver Canucks) were officially registered to the tournament in the afternoon, which means that they can play against France tonight. They have been with the team in Quebec City since Team Sweden arrived here, but they were not added to the active roster until now.

In the evening, the Swedes also added defenceman Douglas Murray and he will play his first official games for Tre Kronor. The Swede, whose paternal ancestors came from Scotland, has never played a World Championship for the men’s or junior national team before. He left Sweden at the age of 17 and has been playing in the United States since then, since 2005 for the NHL’s San Jose Sharks.

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