Corey Abbott

Olympic Preview

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Olympic Preview: Pool C

Monday, February 10, 2014


 

Latvia

 

Goalies:


Kristers Gudlevskis (Syracuse Crunch - AHL) A fifth round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013 Draft, Gudlevskis was recalled earlier this week when Ben Bishop was injured and sat on the bench for the Bolts. He has spent the season in the minors as he was 7-4 with the Florida Everglades of the ECHL with a 1.83 GAA and a .925 save percentage and is 11-8-2 with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL with a 2.69 GAA and a .900 save percentage. He could be Latvia's goalie of the future.


Edgars Masalskis (no club team) - The 33-year-old Masalskis is listed on the roster of SKP Poprad in the Slovakian League but has yet to play a game this season. This is the fourth Olympic Games for the netminder but he did not see any action as a 21-year-old in Salt Lake City and only one game in Turin for the 2006 Games in which he had a 7.49 GAA and a .818 save percentage. He played four games at the Vancouver Games with a 5.15 GAA and a .877 save percentage. Masalskis was sensational in the Latvians 3-2 overtime loss to the Czech Republic in 2010 as he stopped 47 of 50 shots.

 
Ervins Mustukovs (Esbjerg IK - DEN) This will be Mustukovs second Olympics although he did not get into a game at the Vancouver Olympics. He played in North America between the 2006-07 season and the 2007-08 campaign as well as playing for Drummondville of the QMJHL in 2003-04. Mustukovs returned to Europe in 2008 and has played in England, Belarus, Latvia, Denmark and Sweden. He is currently playing for Esbjerg in the Danish League where he has a 2.42 GAA and a .931 save percentage in 28 games.

Defensemen:


Oskars Bartulis (Donbass Donetsk -UKR/KHL) Barulis was drafted in the third round by the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2005 Draft and played 68 games for the Flyers before being bought out of his contract in June 2012. He returned to Latvia and has played for Donbass Donetsk the last two seasons scoring four times and adding 10 assists in 86 games. This will be his second Olympic Games.


Ralfs Freibergs (Bowling Green State University - NCAA) Freibergs is the only NCAA player named to any Olympic team. He has played the last two seasons for Bowling Green State where the blueliner has three goals and 27 points in 38 games. The 22-year-old was not drafted by any NHL team.

Arturs Kulda (Salavat Yulayev Ufa - RUS) - The seventh round pick by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2006 Draft, Kulda was thought to be the shutdown defenseman the now Winnipeg Jets needed. He played in 15 games for the organization and was even brought back from the KHL last March but he did not get into a game and returned this season to play with Salavat Yulayev UFA. It will be his first Olympic Games.

Sandis Ozolinsh (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - The 41-year-old was the flag bearer for Latvia. He had a distinguished career in the NHL after being drafted in the second round, 30th overall in the 1991 Draft, the third player ever taken by the Sharks, behind Pat Falloon and Ray Whitney. Ozolinsh played 875 games in the NHL, scoring 167 goals and 564 points with six NHL teams. He returned to the KHL in the 2009-10 season and has played there ever since. This will be his third Olympics and he has been a prolific scorer with a goal and seven assists in only six games.

Georgijs Pujacs (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - The 32-year-old was drafted in the ninth round by the Boston Bruins in the 1999 Draft and except for a couple of seasons in the very low minors in North America, Pujacs has played in the Russian or KHL league. He did see action in Sweden in 2003-05 as well. This will be Pujacs third Olympic Games. He has one assist in nine games. The alternate captain this season with Dinamo Riga has one goal and five points in 40 games.

Krisjanis Redlihs (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - A fifth round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2002, Redlihs played four season with the Albany River Rats starting in the 2003-04 season and played 239 games, scoring 13 times with 50 assists. He left after the 2005-06 season and played in Europe for a couple of seasons before going to Dinamo Riga in 2008-09 where he has remained ever since. This will be his third Olympics and he has an assist in nine games between Turin and Vancouver. His brother is forward
Mikelis.

Arvids Rekis (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - This will also be the third Olympics for Rekis as the Latvian blueline will definitely be a veteran squad. The 35-year-old played 242 games for the Erie Otters of the OHL between 1996-2000 and had 25 goals and 113 assists but was never drafted into the NHL. He stuck around the minors until 2003 and ended up playing 18 games for Worcester of the AHL, picking up three assists.  He returned to Europe and played in Germany for seven years before spending the last four seasons with Dinamo Riga.

Kristaps Sotnieks (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - The 27-year-old is a stay at home defenseman. This will be his second Olympics as he had a goal in the Vancouver Games. Sotnieks has five goals and 10 points this season for Dinamo Riga in 49 games.

Forwards:

Armands Berzins (Beibarys Atyrau - KAZ)- A fifth round selection by the Minnesota Wild in the 2002 Draft, Berzins played a couple of seasons with Shawinigan of the QMJHL playing 122 games with 41 goals and 37 assists. He then played two seasons in the ECHL before returning to Europe. This will be his third Olympic Games and he has two assists in nine games thus far.

Martins Cipulis (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - The 33-year-old will play in his third Olympics. He has scored a goal and an assist in each of the Turin and Vancouver Games. Cipulis has played his entire career in Russia save for one season in Slovakia. The winger has five goals and eight points in 36 points with Dinamo Riga this season.

Lauris Darzins (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - A ninth round pick by the Nashville Predators in the 2003 Draft, Darzins played two seasons with Kelowna of the WHL, scoring 32 goals and 67 points in 100 games. He then returned to Europe where he played one season in Finland with Ilves. He has played since 2008-09 with Dinamo Riga save for a couple of years with Ak Bars Kazan and part of this season with Traktor Chelyabinsk. This will be his second Olympic Games as he had one assist in Vancouver in four matches.  

Kaspars Daugavins  (Genève-Servette HC - SUI) - Daugavins was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the third round of the 2006 Draft. He played 91 games in the NHL with Ottawa and Boston and potted six goals and 15 points. This will be his second Olympics as he was held pointless in Vancouver. Daugavins played in the Swiss League this season with Geneva scoring 13 goals and 37 points in 40 games. His current deal expires this season and he could return to the NHL as early as next year.

Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres - NHL) - The 14th overall pick in the 2012 Draft, Girgensons is the highest drafted Latvian player in the NHL. He made the Sabres as a 19-year-old and has 17 points this season in 56 games. He is the future of Latvian hockey and has a willingness to play in traffic and his will to control the puck is engaging. He has power forward potential, combining solid pucks skills with a big shot. This will be his first Olympics.

Miks Indrasis (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - The 23-year-old has not played outside the Russian Leagues in his young career. This will be Indrasis' first Olympics. He has 12 goals and 31 points in 49 games for Dinamo Riga this season.

Koba Jass (Bili Tygri Liberec - CZE) - Jass is another 23-year-old who is making his Olympic debut.  This is his first season with Bili Tygri Liberec of the Czech League where he has only three goals and four points in 28 games. Needless to say, he is unlikely to do much offensively in Sochi.

 

Martins Karsums (Dynamo Moscow - RUS)  - Karsums was drafted in the second round in 2004 by the Boston Bruins. He played 24 games in the NHL with Boston and Tampa Bay, scoring once with the Lightning and adding five assists. He was waived by the Lightning in January 2010 and has played with Dinamo Riga ever since. He has 17 goals and 25 points with 81 penalty minutes this season in 39 games. This will be his second Olympic Games as he had two assists in Vancouver in four games.


Ronalds Kenins (ZSC Lions Zurich - SUI) - This is Kenins third season with Zurich in the Swiss League. The 22-year-old has seven goals and 24 points in 36 games this season. This will be his first Olympic Games.

Vitalijs Pavlovs (Dinamo Riga - LAT/KHL) - Pavlovs is a low scoring forward as he has only six goals and 14 points in 50 games for Dinamo Riga. This is the 22-year-old's second season with the club and it will be Pavlovs first appearance in the Olympics.

Mikelis Redlihs (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl - RUS) - The brother of defenseman Krisjanis, Redlihs will be appearing in his third Olympic Games. He had two goals in nine previous games. Redlihs came over to North America for the 2002-03 season when he was just 18 and played in the EJHL with the New York Apple Core and the Boston Jr. Bruins before returning back to Latvia. He had 44 points in 43 games with Dinamo Riga in 2011-12 but his offensive skills seem to have disappeared as he has only seven and five points respectively in the last two seasons over 74 games.

Janis Sprukts (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl  - RUS) - An eighth round pick of the Florida Panthers in the 2000 Draft, Sprukts played 14 games in the NHL, scoring once and adding a couple of helpers. He left the Panthers in 2009 when Florida loaned him to the Latvian National team and he never returned to play in North America unless you count the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Sprukts had an assist in his lone Olympics four years ago.

Juris Stals (HK Poprad - SVK) Stals was a ninth round pick of the New York Rangers in the 2001 Draft and made it as far as Hartford of the AHL in 2002-03 where he had four goals and 18 points in 64 games. He kicked around the ECHL a couple of more seasons and then played one season in 2009-10 with Quad City of the IHL where he had 26 goals and 52 points in 74 games. He played 19 games with SKP Poprad of the Slovak League and chipped in with 14 points. This will be his first Olympics.

Herbert Vasiljevs (Krefeld Pinguine - GER) The undrafted 37-year-old forward played 51 games in the NHL in the early 2000's with Florida, Atlanta and Vancouver, scoring eight times with seven assists, before heading back to Europe. Vasiljevs has played the last 10 seasons in Germany and has captained the Krefeld Pinguine for the last seven seasons. This will be his third Olympic Games as he has two goals and an assist in eight games including a goal in 2010 against Evgeni Nabokov that broke the Russian's shutout bid.


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Corey Abbott is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him Twitter @CoreAbbott.
Email :Corey Abbott



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