COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Eight members of the Columbus Blue jackets will compete in the 2022 IIHF World Championships in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland starting Friday, May 13.

CBJ Director of Player Development Rick Nash, along with Kent Johnson and Cole Sillinger, will represent Canada, while Nick Blankenburg and Andrew Peeke will compete for the United States. 

Also participating at the tournament are Emil Bemstrom (Sweden), Dean Kukan (Switzerland), Elvis Merzlikins (Latvia) and Alexandre Texier (France).

Nash is serving as Hockey Canada’s assistant general manager at the 2022 edition of the World Championships.  The Brampton, Ontario native is participating in his first tournament in a management role after appearing in numerous events for the country as a player.  He skated in three Olympic Games (2006, 2010-gold, 2014-gold), four IIHF World Championships (2005-silver, 2007-gold, 2008-silver, 2011) and the 2002 IIHF World Junior Championships for Canada.

Johnson, 19, has made his international debut for Canada this year, playing in both the 2022 Winter Olympics and 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships.  The 6-1, 168-pound native of Port Moody, British Columbia made his NHL debut this past season, collecting three assists, two penalty minutes and was +2 in nine appearances with the Blue Jackets.   Selected fifth overall at the 2021 NHL Draft, he racked up 17-47-64 and a cumulative +41 plus/minus rating in 58 outings over two seasons at the University of Michigan from 2020-22, including 8-29-37 in 32 games this season.

Sillinger, 18, is making his Canada men’s debut after suiting up for Canada White U17 team at the 2020 U17 World Hockey Challenge.  The Blue Jackets’ second first-round pick, 12th overall, at the 2021 NHL Draft posted the third-most goals (tied) and seventh-most points by a rookie in a single season in franchise history with 16-15-31 in 79 appearances in 2021-22.  The 6-2, 203-pound forward was born in Columbus, Ohio but grew up in Regina, Saskatchewan.

Blankenburg, 23, is making his international debut for the United States.  The Washington, Michigan native was signed by the Blue Jackets to an entry level contract on April 8 and recorded 1-2-3 in seven contests, including making his NHL debut on April 13 vs. Montreal.  He played four seasons at the University of Michigan from 2018-22 and finished with 25-43-68 and 62 penalty minutes in 133 games.  The 5-9, 174-pound blueliner served as the team’s captain and set career highs with 14-15-29 in 38 appearances in 2021-22.

Peeke, 24, helped Team USA win a bronze medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships.  He has totaled 3-18-21 and 68 penalty minutes in 115 career NHL contests since being selected by the club in the second round, 34th overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft.  A native of Boca Raton, Florida, the 6-3, 196-pound blueliner set career highs with 2-13-15 and 60 PIM and registered the second-most blocked shots in club history with 169 while playing in all 82 games this season.

Bemstrom, 22, represented Sweden at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championships and 2017 IIHF U18 World Championships.  The Nykoping, Sweden native, who was selected by Columbus in the fourth round, 117th overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft, has registered 19-17-36 and 12 PIM in 117 career NHL games.  The 6-0, 193-pound winger collected 6-5-11 in 41 appearances with the Blue Jackets and added 2-0-2 in four outings with the American Hockey League’s Cleveland Monsters in 2021-22.  

Kukan, 28, has suited up for Switzerland at the IIHF World Championships in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018 (silver) as well as the 2012 and 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships.  Originally signed by the Blue Jackets to an entry level contract in 2015, the Volketswil, Switzerland native has recorded 5-25-30 in 153 career games since making his NHL debut in 2015-16.  The 6-2, 190-pound defenseman set career highs with 3-8-11 and 16 PIM in 41 appearances this season. 

Merzlikins, 28, has represented Latvia at numerous international tournaments, including four consecutive IIHF World Championships from 2016-2019.  The Riga, Latvia native, who was Columbus’ third round pick, 76th overall, at the 2014 NHL Draft, has posted a 48-44-20 record with a 2.88 goals-against average, .913 save percentage and nine shutouts in 120 career games.  The 6-3, 183-pound netminder set career highs in games played and wins this season, finishing with a 27-23-7 record, 3.22 GAA, .907 SV% and two shutouts in 59 contests.

Texier, 22, has played for France in various international competition, including the 2018 and 2019 IIHF World Championships as well as the 2017 (bronze) and 2018 IIHF World Junior Division 1A Championships.  A native of Grenoble, France, the club’s second round selection, 45th overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft, has totaled 22-27-49 and 44 PIM in 123 career outings since making his League debut at the end of the 2018-19 campaign.  The 6-1, 186-pound forward set career highs in goals and points with 11-9-20 and 12 PIM in 36 contests in 2021-22.