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Shining on world stage?

Several Jets could get that opportunity if countries call

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SUNRISE, Fla. -- The NHL season may be drawing to a close for the Winnipeg Jets but a number of the team's players will be heading to the IIHF World Hockey Championship to represent their homelands.

The worlds will open May 4 with one pool, including Canada and the U.S., playing out of Helsinki and the other in Stockholm.

The playoffs will be held in Helskinki with the final scheduled for May 20.

The Jets have not had invites extended to any of their players and only Team USA has called on an informal basis.

Teams must contact the Jets to ask permission for players and that process hasn't started although GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is a proponent of his players taking part.

Here's a list of potential candidates for world championship rosters:

Canada

Andrew Ladd: Ladd has quietly made it known he'd like to represent Canada and has a solid history with the national team. Expect him to get an invite.

Evander Kane: A young sniper with speed, he's gone the last two years in a row and will most certainly get another invite after this breakout season.

United States

Mark Stuart: The U.S. captain last season will have some competition this year. We'd take him but he's not a lock at this point. Leadership is hard to come by and Stuart provides plenty. The big ice surface may be an issue for his game.

Dustin Byfuglien: They want him but the bone bruise that has plagued him since early March is an issue. Players won't head to Europe until April 28, so he'd have three weeks to get healthy. The Jets would love Byfuglien to go for a number of reasons. First of all, if he gets the bug to play for the U.S. at the 2014 Winter Olympics he'll need to change his approach to fitness. That's a top priority for the Jets this summer and going to the worlds could kick start his summer program.

Blake Wheeler: Mark him down. The Americans have identified him as a top six forward and he'll be on the roster. Wheeler has a chance to continue his progression as a player and make a name for himself with USA Hockey. Players will view this worlds as the start of jockeying for position on the Olympic team and a strong showing for Wheeler could go a long way.

Zach Bogosian: Same script as Wheeler. Bogosian is already well known to USA Hockey, having played at the 2009 worlds in France. He was a candidate for the 2010 U.S. Olympic team but injuries took him off the map. He was invited to play in the 2010 worlds but declined due to injury. He's on the radar and he's healthy -- he'll be there.

Sweden

Toby Enstrom: Enstrom has played for Sweden at two world juniors, two world championships and one Olympics. He's the closest thing the Jets have to an automatic.

Czech Republic

Ondrej Pavelec: The Jets goalie won a gold at the 2010 worlds and a bronze at the 2011 worlds. He also represented his country at the 2010 Olympics and 2006 world juniors. Another solid NHL season and he's also heading to the worlds.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 4, 2012 C3

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