Ryan Dadoun

Olympic Preview

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Olympic Preview: Pool A

Tuesday, February 11, 2014


 

Slovakia

 

Goalies:

 

Jaroslav Halak (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Halak has been given most of the goalie starts in St. Louis this season.  He has posted 24 wins, including four shutouts, along with a solid 2.26 goals-against average and a respectable .915 save percentage in 39 appearances.  Halak was superb for the surprising Slovaks in 2010 Winter Olympics and he nearly helped guide the country to a bronze medal, but they ended up losing to Finland and had to settle for a fourth place finish.  He will be the country's starting netminder again in Sochi.

 

Peter Budaj (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Budaj has been a solid backup option in Montreal over the past two seasons, including the 2013-14 campaign.  He has a 6-4-1 record with a .926 save percentage and a 1.97 GAA in 14 outings this year.  He doesn't get to play a lot behind workhorse netminder Carey Price and he probably won't get much action in the Olympics as Jaroslav Halak's understudy either. 

 

Jan Laco (HC Donbass - KHL) - Laco plays out of Donetsk in the Ukraine for HC Donbass of the KHL.  He has picked up nine wins in 12 games to go with a .942 save percentage and a 1.47 goals-against average.  He was Slovakia's starter during the 2012 World Championships, but he'll be relegated to third string during the Olympic Games in Sochi with NHL netminders on the club. 

 

Defensemen:

 

Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins - NHL) - The Bruins allowed their captain to leave for Sochi before the Olympic break, so that he could carry Slovakia's flag during the opening ceremony.  The Slovaks will lean on him for ice time during the Olympics just like the Bruins do in the NHL, so getting that extra time off may be good for him.  Chara has generated 13 goals, 26 points and a plus-11 rating in 54 games this season.  He'll play in all situations for Slovakia. 

 

Andrej Sekera (Carolina Hurricanes - NHL) - Sekera is having the best offensive season of his career in his first year with Carolina.  The 27-year-old blueliner has recorded nine goals and 32 points in 55 games.  He was acquired from Buffalo prior to the 2013-14 campaign.  Sekera has been good on the power play and he should see plenty of minutes on the Slovakia's top unit. 

 

Andrej Meszaros (Philadelphia Flyers - NHL) - The Flyers have scratched Meszaros 23 times this season, but he's earned 16 points and 51 shots in 35 appearances.  He will probably get more ice time and responsibility on Slovakia's roster during the 2014 Winter Olympics. 

 

Ivan Baranka (Avangard Omsk - KHL) - Baranka has 18 points in 47 matches with his KHL squad this year.  He was a second-round choice of the Rangers in the 2003 draft, but he only played NHL one game and it came in 2007-08.  Baranka has played six straight seasons in the KHL since then.  He's a defensive-minded blueliner, but he can chip in with an occasional point.     

 

Martin Marincin (Edmonton Oilers - NHL) - Marincin has split time between the Oilers and Edmonton's AHL affiliate in Oklahoma City this season.  In 22 NHL contests, he has two assists, 28 blocks and a plus-4 rating and in 24 minor-league matches he has seven points.  He was a good point producer in junior, but he's still trying to find his groove in the professional ranks.  He has plenty of potential, which could be fulfilled once he grows into his 6-foot-5 frame.   

 

Milan Jurcina (TPS Turku - Liiga) - Jurcina has skated in 21 games, where he has six points and 18 penalty minutes, with TPS Turku of Finland's SM-liiga  this season.  His last appearance in the NHL came in 2011-12 when he suited up in 65 games with the New York Islanders.  Jurcina was named to Slovakia's Olympic team as one replacement after injuries struck Michal Sersen and Dominik Granak.   

 

Rene Vydareny (Mountfield HK - CZE) - Vydareny was a third-round pick of the Vancouver Canucks back in 1999, but he never got a chance to make his NHL debut.  He played parts of three seasons with the AHL's Manitoba Moose before heading back to Europe to continue his playing career.  Vydareny has contributed five goals and 19 points in 44 games from the back end for Mountfield HK of the Czech Extraliga this season.  He got his roster spot on Slovakia's Olympic squad because of injuries to  Michal Sersen and Dominik Granak.   

 

Tomas Starosta (HC Yugra - KHL) - Starosta has been practicing with Slovakia as a possible injury replacement and he's expected to get the nod to play in the Olympics because Lubomir Visnovsky won't be going to Sochi.  Marek Daloga and Ivan Svarny were also skating with the Slovaks as potential options.  Starosta has 13 points in 44 KHL contests this season. 

 

Forwards:

 

Marian Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Hossa has been brilliant for the Blackhawks this season, with 24 goals and 50 points in 55 games.  He is also tied for third in the league with a plus-26 rating.  Hossa's two-way skills will be relied upon heavily by Slovakia and he should be their top offensive threat during the Olympics.   

 

Tomas Tatar (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - In 49 games with the Red Wings, Tatar has recorded 13 goals and 11 assists for 24 points.  He hasn't spent any time with Grand Rapids this season, so he appears to have shed his minor-league label.   Tatar's skating and scoring abilities could come in handy for Slovakia.    

 

Tomas Jurco (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Jurco has skated in 19 games with Detroit because of a plethora of injuries.  He has notched three goals and seven points during that time.  Jurco has also been superb at the AHL level this campaign, where he has generated 13 goals and 32 points in 32 matches with Grand Rapids.   

 

Tomas Kopecky (Florida Panthers - NHL) - Kopecky has contributed just 12 points in 49 games this season after he amassed 15 goals and 27 points in 47 contests during the lockout-shortened season.  He's been asked to take on a different role this year, but if Slovakia places him in a position to contribute offensively then he can return to his post-lockout form. 

 

Marcel Hossa (Dinamo Riga - KHL) - Hossa has racked up 20 goals and 38 points in 46 games for Dinamo Riga of the KHL this year.  Hossa sits just outside of the top-10 point producers in the league and he's one of only seven players to hit 20 goals so far.  He hasn't played in the NHL since 2007-08, but he's become a reliable scorer in the KHL.  Slovakia may pair him up front with his older brother, Marian.   

 

Michal Handzus (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Handzus has had a season to forget so far in 2013-14.  He has four goals and 11 points in 41 games.  Handzus was playing on Chicago's second line, but that position has proven to be hard for anyone to hold onto.  Still, he is better suited for checking lines and that's where Slovakia should use him as well.  

 

Tomas Zaborsky (Salavat Yulaev Ufa - KHL) - Zaborsky appeared in 10 AHL games with the New York Rangers' AHL affiliate after he was drafted in the fifth round by the club in 2006.  He spent most of his two seasons in the pro ranks in the ECHL before returning to Europe.  Zaborsky has collected 10 goals and 17 points in 41 games between KHL teams Avangard Omsk and Salavat Yulaev Ufa this campaign.  He has good offensive instincts but the puck hasn't been bouncing his way thus far in 2013-14. 

 

Richard Panik (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - Panik was assigned to the minors after he played 39 games with the Lightning.  He registered 11 points and 56 hits during that span.  In seven outings with AHL Syracuse, Panuk has collected two assists.  Panik has good potential but it's unlikely that he breaks out during the Olympics. 

 

Branko Radivojevic (HC Slovan Bratislava - KHL) - He was granted a spot on Slovakia's roster as an injury replacement for Columbus' Marian Gaborik.  Radivojevic last played in the NHL as a member of the Minnesota Wild in 2007-08.  He has played the last six seasons in the KHL.  He has four goals and nine points in 41 games between HC Neftekhimik and HC Slovan Bratislava this season.  He won't chip in much in the way of offense, but he's an experienced player who plays with energy. 

 

Michel Miklík (HC Slovan Bratislava - KHL) - In 50 games this campaign with HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL, Miklik has picked up 14 goals and 32 points.  Miklik was a member of the Slovakian team that made it to the World Championship final against Russia in 2012, but he didn't make an impact on the stat sheet.  This will be his first Olympic Games.   

 

Milan Bartovic (HC Slovan Bratislava - KHL) - Bartovic is an offensive player, who has generated 12 goals and 27 points in 50 games for HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL this season.  He has had some success in World Championship play in the past, but he didn't play in the 2013 tournament.  This will also be his first Olympic Games. 

 

Tomas Marcinko (HC Kosice - SVK) - Marcinko, who plays in the Slovak Extraliga with HC Kosice, was originally a fourth-round draft pick of the Islanders in 2006.  He has posted 10 goals and 28 points in 44 games this season, but he's known more for being a good penalty killer and a solid defensive player. 

 

Tomas Surovy (Dinamo Minsk - KHL) - Surovy was a drafted in 2001 by Pittsburgh and he skated in 126 NHL games with the Penguins, where he accumulated 59 points.  He has played the last four seasons in the KHL.  In 46 games with Dinamo Minsk this year, he has seven goals and 20 points. 

 

Peter Olvecky (HC Slovan Bratislava - KHL) - The 28-year-old forward has three goals and 12 points in 45 games for HC Slovan Bratislava of the KHL this year.  Olvecky was selected in the third round (78th overall) by the Minnesota Wild in 2004.  He had seven points in 32 career NHL outings with Minnesota and Nashville.  Olvecky posted his best numbers in the minors and he hasn't scored very much since he started playing again in Europe. 


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Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
Email :Ryan Dadoun



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