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Several Coyotes in mix for World Cup roster spots

Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23), Anthony Duclair and Tobias Rieder (8) celebrate a goal by Duclair during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks in Anaheim, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Christine Cotter)

The NHL’s Feb. 29 trade deadline isn’t the only imminent hockey deadline. All eight teams competing in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey will announce their initial rosters of at least 16 players (including two goaltenders) on March 2 for the tournament that takes place in Toronto from Sept. 17 to Oct. 1.

The eight teams are Team Canada, Team USA, Team Russia, Team Sweden, Team Czech Republic. Team Finland, Team North America and Team Europe. Team North America will be comprised of players 23 years old or younger as of Oct. 1, 2016. Team Europe can select players from any European nation other than Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.

Several Coyotes are candidates for roster spots. Danish forward Mikkel Boedker (who could be traded before the rosters are set) and German forward Tobias Rieder both have strong chances of making the European team, center Martin Hanzal (Czech Republic), defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Sweden), defenseman Zbynek Michalek (Czech Republic), right wing Viktor Tikhonov (Russia), left wing Max Domi (North America), defenseman Connor Murphy (North America) and right wing Anthony Duclair (North America) also are in the mix.

“Whatever happens, happens,” Rieder said. “I’m just trying to focus on playing well in my season here so I haven’t really thought about that, but I always think it would be a great honor to play for my country and to play against all those great teams.”

Rieder said he likes the idea of Team Europe comprising the other hockey playing nations in Europe that aren’t as well-stocked as the four main nations.

“I think it’s a smart format,” he said. “They should have the ability with all of those countries included to compete against anybody.”

Each World Cup team will include 20 skaters and three goalies, with more than 150 NHL players expected to participate and a small number of non-NHL players completing the rosters. The remaining players on each team’s roster must be submitted by June 1.

Coyotes coach Dave Tippett was named to head coach Todd McLellan’s staff for the North American team, but he said he hasn’t been involved in the selection process, other than to pore over a list of players.

“They realize NHL coaches are pretty busy,” he said. “I think the first group of players they’ll name are guys that are consensus picks and then there’s going to be some picks after that that will probably depend on how it goes the rest of the year and playoffs.

“We’ve got some guys here that certainly are worthy of a look.”

Coyotes at Panthers

When: Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

Where: BB&T Center, Sunrise, Fla.

TV: FOX Sports Arizona Plus

Radio: ESPN 620 AM

Season series: First meeting

Probable goalies: Panthers — Roberto Luongo. Coyotes — Louis Domingue.

Injury report: Panthers — F Sasha Barkov (concussion symptoms) and D Erik Gudbranson (concussion symptoms). F Jonathan Huberdeau (head), F Brandon Pirri (ankle), F Quinton Howden (upper body) and D Willie Mitchell (lower body) are out. Coyotes — G Mike Smith (abdominal surgery) is likely to return in early March. C Boyd Gordon (upper body) is week to week. G Anders Lindback (Achilles) and RW Joe Vitale (concussion symptoms) are out for the season.

Scouting the Panthers: Florida has been the biggest surprise of the NHL season. The Panthers lead the Atlantic Division by three points over Tampa Bay. The Panthers’ only division title came in 2012, the same season the Coyotes won the Pacific Division. … F Jaromir Jagr turned 44 on Feb 15, yet was just named the NHL’s first star for the past week. Jagr scored three goals in three games to move into sole possession of third place on the NHL’s all-time goal scoring list with 742, passing Brett Hull. He trails Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). Jagr did not play in the NHL for three seasons (2008-2011), instead playing in the KHL and Czech Republic. Jagr leads Florida with 20 goals and 43 points. … G Roberto Luongo is seventh in the NHL in save percentage (.927).

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