MOSCOW, April 17. /TASS/. NHL Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin is most likely to join the Russian national squad next month for the 2019 IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship in Slovakia, his agent Gennady Ushakov told TASS on Wednesday.
Pittsburg Penguins lost on Tuesday night to New York Islanders 0-4 in their Game 4 of the NHL playoff series and left the completion for the Stanley Cup with an aggregate figure of 1-3 in favor of the hockey club from New York.
Shortly after the match, the Russian Ice Hockey Federation (RHF) reported on its official website that the coaching staff of the national team extend 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 from the playoff series.
"Evgeni is most likely to accept the invitation," Ushakov said in an interview with TASS.
Asked by a TASS correspondent when the final decision would be announced, Malkin’s agent Ushakov avoided naming the exact date, but dropped a hint that Malkin had already accepted the invitation to join the national team for the annual World Championship.
Russia’s 32-year-old central forward Malkin is the three-time Stanley Cup winner grabbing the prestigious trophy with Pittsburg Penguins in 2009, 2016 and 2017. He was the NHL play-off’s top scorer in the past season packing 28 points in 25 matches (10 goals plus 18 assists).
In August 2017, Malkin received in Moscow the Kharlamov Trophy, which is awarded annually to the best Russian ice hockey player in the previous season. Malkin was previously awarded the Kharlamov Trophy in 2012.
Besides Malkin and since its introduction in 2002, 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 Artemy Panarin (in 2016). The trophy was unclaimed in 2005 due to NHL’s lockout in 2005.
Malkin played for the Russian national Olympic team three times - 2006 Olympics in Italy’s Turin, 2010 Olympics in Canada’s Vancouver and 2014 Olympics in Russia’s Sochi. Playing for the national squad at the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championships he is two-time gold, two-time silver and two-time bronze medalist.
2019 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia
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.