NHL considering World Cup play-in for 2024, unsure on Russians, commissioner Bill Daly says

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Relive Team North America's wild OT win over Team Sweden at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. (1:01)

HENDERSON, Nev. -- The NHL is considering a play-in tournament for the 2024 World Cup of Hockey that would be held directly before the February event.

"For 2024, we may do a mini-qualifier as part of the tournament," NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN on Thursday during the Player Media Tour here.

The NHL and the NHLPA are working out details for the first World Cup of Hockey since 2016, targeting a 17-day window in February 2024 that would interrupt the 2023-24 regular season.

There are no plans to bring back two novelty teams from the 2016 tournament: Team North America, which was a 23-and-under squad, and Team Europe, which was comprised of players who didn't have national teams in the tournament. Team Europe made the 2016 World Cup final, losing to Team Canada.

Instead, the expectation is that 10 national teams will take part in the 2024 World Cup of Hockey, with two teams eliminated in the qualification round to create an eight-team field. It's expected that would include returning national teams Canada, Team USA, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic and a team representing Russia. The other national teams could include Switzerland, Slovakia, Germany, Austria, Norway and others.

The expanded field would give the NHL a chance to showcase high-profile players that might otherwise not participate in the World Cup, like Edmonton Oilers star Leon Draisaitl of Germany, Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi of Switzerland and Montreal Canadiens first overall pick Juraj Slafkovsky of Slovakia.

"If they participate on some basis, then you cover your bases a little bit," Daly said.

For future World Cups, the NHL said it would ideally hold the play-in tournament at the end of the preceding summer.

Another issue facing the 2024 World Cup of Hockey is how to handle Russia's involvement, due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. While Daly said it was too early to determine how Russia would appear in the World Cup, he said Russian players will participate in the event.

"Certainly, we'd like that and I think our Russian players would like that. So we would certainly like to accommodate them in some credible way," he said.

That could mean taking a similar approach to the Olympics and having Russian players competing but not under their national team's name and flag.