Four members of the Florida Panthers will take to the ice in the IIHF World Championship which is set to begin on Friday.
Nick Bjugstad will represent the United States, while Jason Demers and Michael Matheson will suit up for Canada. Lastly, Denis Malgin will be a member of the Switzerland roster.
The tournament will be hosted in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany and games will take place from May 5-21. The championship atmosphere will give the four stars an early start on their work for the 2017-18 season. The experience will also prepare them for the potential excitement of a Stanley Cup run.
"There are some things in my game that I let slip from the last couple years that I'm going to try and find and work on," said Demers.
In the 2016-17 season that just concluded, Demers had 28 points. The defenseman signed with Florida last off-season and had several big moments during the campaign. The season itself however was not a success for the team. After setting a franchise record for wins in the 2015-16 season, Florida missed the playoffs this time around.
"My biggest thing is just finding confidence going into next year and being happy about my play," added Bjugstad.
The ability to play some extra games in a competitive atmosphere is especially important for Bjugstad. The forward was out of action for much of last season and could use the work. In his limited action, Bjugstad was productive and he should be ready for a full season of work in 2017-18.
Team Canada came away with the title in last year's tournament, which will give Matheson and Demers something extra to play for. In last year's championship, Matheson amassed six points to help his country to the win.
The Panthers will provide updates during the tournament on FloridaPanthers.com.