MOSCOW, April 19. /TASS/. NHL Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin is expected to team up with the Russian national squad before April 27 for the 2019 IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship in Slovakia, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation’s (RHF) press service announced on Friday.
On April 16, the New York Islanders pulled off a clean sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 4 of the NHL playoffs with a 3-1 win.
Shortly after the match, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RHF) reported on its official website that the coaching staff of the national team extended invitations to Malkin, as well as to Russian players of NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning Nikita Kucherov, Andrei Vasilevsky and Mikhail Sergachyov, whose club was also knocked out of the playoffs.
“We have been maintaining contacts with all possible candidates for the national team throughout this season, including with players from NHL clubs,” RHF First Vice President Roman Rotenberg stated.
Malkin’s agent Gennady Ushakov told TASS on Thursday that the Russian hockey star had no issues whatsoever regarding his health and is ready to join the Russian national team for the 2019 IIHF World Championship next month.
Russia’s 32-year-old central forward Malkin is the three-time Stanley Cup winner grabbing the prestigious trophy with the Pittsburg Penguins in 2009, 2016 and 2017. He was the NHL playoff’s top scorer in the past season packing 28 points in 25 matches (10 goals plus 18 assists).
In August 2017, Malkin received the Kharlamov Trophy in Moscow, which is awarded annually to the best Russian ice hockey player for the previous season. Malkin was awarded with this trophy previously in 2012.
Since its introduction in 2002, in addition to Malkin, the trophy was also awarded to Hockey Hall of Fame member Sergei Fedorov (in 2003), Ilya Kovalchuk (in 2004), Alexander Ovechkin (in 2006-2010, 2014-2015), Pavel Datsyuk (in 2011, 2013) and Artemi Panarin (in 2016). The trophy was unclaimed in 2005 due to NHL’s lockout in 2005.
The 2019 IIHF World Championship is hosted this year in May by Slovakia. The teams were divided into Groups A and B. Group A will be playing matches in Slovakia’s Kosice and includes hosts Slovakia, Canada, the United States, Finland, Germany, Denmark, France and Great Britain.
Group B will be playing matches in Bratislava and enlists teams from Sweden, Russia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Norway, Latvia, Austria and Italy.
Slovakia offers two venues for hosting matches of the championship and they are the country’s capital of Bratislava and the country’s second largest city of Kosice. Each city will host 28 matches during the group stage as well as two quarterfinals.
The semifinals, the final and the match for the bronze will be played in Bratislava at the over 10,000-seat capacity Ondrej Nepela Arena.
Kosice, which has a population of 240,000, offers the over 8,300-seat capacity Steel Arena for matches of the annual international ice hockey world championship, which is scheduled for May 10-26, 2019.