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Olympic Preview: Pool C

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Olympic Preview: Pool C
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Corey Abbott, Michael Finewax and Ryan Dadoun cover all Pool C players from the Czech Republic, Latvia, …

This is the second preview of each pool for the 2014 Olympics. Michael Finewax, Ryan Dadoun and Corey Abbott have done player profiles on every player in the tournament.

Click here to see Pool A featuring Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia and the United States.

Click here to see Pool B, featuring Austria, Canada, Finland and Norway.

Don’t forget, for everything NHL, check out Rotoworld's Player News, and follow @Rotoworld_ HK, @mfinewaxhockey  @RyanDadoun, and @CoreAbbott,


Czech Republic

Goalies:

Ondrej Pavelec (Winnipeg Jets - NHL) - The Jets started to turn things around under new head coach Paul Maurice and the play of Pavelec picked up as well.  He won seven of his past 11 outings entering the Olympic break.  Unfortunately, his goals against started to rise as the Olympics drew closer.  The 26-year-old has issues with consistency, but he can get hot and during a brief tournament where it's win or go home, that's all a country needs to become a contender.  Pavelec will be the Czech's number one netminder in Sochi. 

Alexander Salak (SKA Saint Petersburg - KHL) - Salak has made two NHL appearances in his career and they both came in relief when he was a member of the Florida Panthers.  He's played well for SKA Saint Petersburg of the KHL this campaign, where he's posted a .933 save percentage and a 1.86 goals-against average in 31 games to go with 17 wins.  He competed for the backup job of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12, but was beat out by Ray Emery.  Salak could get some starts in the Olympics, but he'll probably play second fiddle to Pavelec. 

Jakub Kovar (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg - KHL) - Kovar was originally drafted 109th overall in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.  He hasn't played in the NHL and he spent just one season of his playing career in North America when he played in the OHL with Oshawa and Windsor in 2007-08.  In 44 games this season with Yekaterinburg, he has 19 wins, a .934 save percentage and a 1.91 goals-against average. 

Defensemen:

Marek Zidlicky (New Jersey Devils - NHL) - If the Czech Republic is seeking offense from the back end then Zidlicky will likely be their best bet.  He has registered eight goals and 29 points in 58 games with New Jersey this year.  He has garnered 12 of those points and five of his goals on the power play, where he should be a fixture for the Czech team during the Olympics.  

Radko Gudas (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - Gudas has emerged as a solid defenseman on Tampa Bay's roster this season.  The 23-year-old still has some holes to fill in his game, but he plays very physical and he is capable of chipping in a bit offensively.  Gudas leads the Lightning with 201 hits in 53 games and he has recorded 16 points.  He also ranks third in the NHL with 122 penalty minutes.      

Zbynek Michalek (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL) - There was a time this year when Michalek was worried about his Olympic participation because of a hip injury, but he was able to return to Phoenix's lineup last month and he's ready to compete in Sochi.  Michalek won't produce many, if any, points but he can eat up minutes, block shots and take care of his own zone while serving as a shutdown defender. 

Ladislav Smid (Calgary Flames - NHL) - Smid suffered a bit of a scare in Calgary's final game before the Olympic break when he sustained a lower-body injury and didn't play in the third period against Philadelphia.  However, he's still expected to play in Sochi.  Smid has become a solid stay-at-home defenseman over the past few years despite playing on struggling teams like Edmonton and Calgary.  

Michal Barinka (HC Vitkovice - CZE) - Barinka skated in 34 games over two seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, with his most recent appearance coming in 2005-06.  He recorded two assists, 26 penalty minutes and a minus-12 rating over that span.  Barinka has spent most of his playing days in the Czech Republic with HC Vitkovice.  In 41 Czech Extraliga contests this year, he has generated 13 points and 36 penalty minutes.  Barinka is known more for being a defensive-minded blueliner and his 6-foot-3, 225-pound frame helps in that regard. 

Tomas Kaberle (HC Kladno - CZE) - Kaberle was bought out by the Montreal Canadiens this past June, which led to him signing with Kladno to play back home in the Czech Republic.  He has produced three goals and 19 assists in 44 matches this season.  Kaberle should be able to help the Czech's transition game and he might be used on the power play as well. 

Michal Rozsival (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Rozsival shares Chicago's sixth defenseman spot with Sheldon Brookbank and Mike Kostka.  He has skated in 33 games this campaign as a result, where he has contributed six points and 53 hits.  The veteran defenseman could be counted on for his leadership  during the tournament, but he could also end up sitting on the bench if he can't keep up on the larger ice.    

Lukas Krajicek (HC Dinamo Minsk - KHL) - Krajicek hasn't played in the NHL since the 2009-10 campaign when he split time between Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.  The former first-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2001 possesses good size and he can move the puck, but he isn't having a strong season with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL in 2013-14.  In 49 games, Krajicek has 11 points, 59 penalty minutes and a minus-15 rating. 

Forwards:

Jaromir Jagr (New Jersey Devils - NHL) - Jagr will be competing in the Winter Olympics for the fifth time in Sochi.  The veteran winger and future Hall of Famer has been excellent this season, while generating a team-leading 17 goals and 49 points in 59 games for the Devils.  He has been moving up the NHL's all-time scorer's list and his puck skills continue to impress even though he is 41 years of age.  Jagr will be looked to for leadership during the tournament and he should feel right at home again on the bigger ice. 

David Krejci (Boston Bruins - NHL) - Krejci's superb year has flown under the radar.  If he can avoid the droughts that have plagued him in the past then he's on pace to top 70 points for the second time in his career once the NHL resumes play after the Olympics.  He has scored just 13 goals in 57 games, but he has collected 37 assists to give him 50 points at the break.  Krejci will be a top-two center for the Czech Republic during the Olympics. 

Tomas Plekanec (Montreal Canadiens - NHL) - Plekanec will be the captain of the Czech team at the Winter Games.  The two-way center will probably be matched up against the best the opposition has to offer and he'll be asked to contribute offensively as well.  In 59 games with Montreal this year, he has tallied 17 goals and 33 points. 

Jakub Voracek (Philadelphia Flyers - NHL) - Voracek was one of many Philadelphia Flyers who had a brutal start to the 2013-14 season.  However, he managed to bounce back and become a dependable scorer once again as the calendar turned to December.  Voracek entered the break with 15 goals and 40 points in 59 games.  He's likely to skate as a top-six forward with the Czech Republic and his skills on the power play will be put to good use.    

Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils - NHL) - Elias might be slowing down a bit offensively, but he still has 33 points in 44 games this season.  The 37-year-old forward can play center or the wing and he can skate on the power play and the penalty kill.  His versatility and his ability to score should make him a reliable player for the Czech Republic during the Olympic Games.  

Martin Hanzal (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL) - At the beginning of the 2013-14 season, Hanzal was racking up points, but he's cooled off considerably since then.  He entered the Olympic break with one goal and three assists in his past 11 outings.  Hanzal 's game has a great deal of sandpaper to it and he's sound defensively.  He can also dominate on faceoffs which could make him the catalyst for a checking-line role for the Czech Republic. 

Michael Frolik (Winnipeg Jets - NHL) - Frolik served as fourth-liner with Chicago during their Stanley Cup win last year, but he was elevated to the top unit recently with the Jets this season.  During that time, he has earned three goals and three assists in 13 contests to give him 30 points on the year.  He can play any forward position, so he is capable of playing anywhere in the lineup, but we would expect to see him in an energy role with the Czechs in the Olympics.   

Petr Nedved (Bili Tygri Liberec - CZE) - Nedved has played in his hometown of Liberec for the past six seasons, including the 2013-14 campaign.  He has registered 18 goals, 44 points and 101 penalty minutes in 44 Czech Extraliga games this year.  Nedved ranks fifth in the league in scoring heading into the Olympics.  The 42-year-old forward hasn't appeared in the NHL since the 2006-07 season when he played with Philadelphia and Edmonton.  It will definitely be interesting to see him matched up with and against other NHLers during the Olympics.    This is Nedved's second Olympics as he represented Canada in 1994, winning a silver medal.

Ondrej Palat (Tampa Bay Lightning - NHL) - The Lightning rookie has played well since becoming a top-six forward.  He has shown that he can skate with top players, which could make him an interesting player to watch during the Olympics if the Czech coaches grant him a similar opportunity.  Palat ranks third among NHL first-year players with 34 points in 58 games this campaign. 

Milan Michalek (Ottawa Senators - NHL) - In the past, injuries have sidetracked Michalek, but this year he appears to be healthy and he's struggled mightily to produce.  He has dressed in all 59 games  for the Senators and he's generated a mere 10 goals and 25 points.  Michalek also owns a horrid minus-22 rating.  He played well in the Czech Republic during the lockout last year, so perhaps getting back on the big ice will help him rediscover his past touch.   

Ales Hemsky (Edmonton Oilers - NHL) - Hemsky returned from an ankle injury in Edmonton's last game before the Olympic break.  He has generated just seven goals and 24 points in 52 games this season, so it's unlikely that he'll have much an impact in Sochi. 

Roman Cervenka (SKA Saint Petersburg - KHL) - Cervenka decided to return to the KHL after an unsuccessful year with the Calgary Flames during the lockout-shortened season.  He has notched 13 goals and 36 points in 49 games with SKA Saint Petersburg after he produced only 17 points with the Flames over 39 appearances.  He can play center or the wing, so the Czechs will have some options when they set their lineup. 

Martin Erat (Washington Capitals - NHL) - The 2013-14 campaign has been disastrous for Erat.  He has played on the fourth line, been scratched and asked to be traded.  His ice time went up heading into the break and he finally scored his first goal of the season in his 51st game, so things could be looking up for him if you are inclined to look on the bright side.  Still, it will take much more than that to save his season especially considering the goal was an empty netter.   Erat punched his ticket to Sochi because of an injury to St. Louis' Vladimir Sobotka.       

Jiri Novotny (HC Lev Praha - KHL) - Novotny has played in the KHL for the last five years and the 2013-14 campaign marks his second straight season with Lev Praha.  He has tallied 10 goals and 14 assists in 45 contests thus far.  Novotny was a first-round selection (22nd overall) of the Buffalo Sabres back in 2001 and he played 189 career NHL contests before heading overseas. 

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.

Sweden

Goalies:

Henrik Lundqvist (New York Rangers - NHL) - The Rangers netminder has returned to form just in time for the Olympics.  He struggled earlier in the 2013-14 campaign, but he was superb in January and his play will determine if the Swedes are a serious gold medal contender for the Sochi Games.  Lundqvist  backstopped Sweden to a gold medal win in Turin during the 2006 Winter Olympics, so he understands what it takes to go all the way and he'll be counted on to do it again. 

Jonas Gustavsson (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Detroit's backup goalie will probably serve as Sweden's understudy in Sochi.  He has played for the Red Wings while Jimmy Howard has battled inconsistency and injuries this season.  "The Monster" has 13 wins and a .911 save percentage in 22 games. 

Jhonas Enroth (Buffalo Sabres - NHL) - Enroth has endured a forgettable and frustrating 2013-14 season to this point.  He has one win in 20 outings for the last-place Buffalo Sabres.  Ryan Miller has been spectacular this year as well, so the motivation to play Enroth hasn't been strong and that probably won't change during the Olympics behind the likes of Henrik Lundqvist.

Defensemen:

Erik Karlsson (Ottawa Senators -NHL) - The offensively talented defenseman scores like he's a forward and Karlsson leads all NHL blueliners with 55 points in 59 games this season.  He logs big minutes for the Ottawa Senators and should be a fixture on Sweden's power play at the Olympics.

Niklas Kronwall (Detroit Red Wings -NHL) - Kronwall does it all for the Red Wings as the club's leader on the back end and he'll be Sweden's go to defenseman in all situations during the Winter Olympics.  He'll be the Swedes most physical blueliner and opposing players will need to keep their heads up when he's on the ice. 

Alexander Edler (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - The Vancouver blueliner won't be eligible to play in Sweden's first two games of the tournament because of a suspension from the IIHF for a knee-on-knee hit on Canada's Eric Staal during the World Hockey Championships last spring.  Edler has underperformed dramatically this season under new coach John Tortorella and injuries have played a role in his struggles. 

Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Phoenix Coyotes - NHL)- Phoenix's 22-year-old rearguard has taken another step forward this season.  He's on pace to top 40 points for the first time in his young NHL career this year and he's one of the best mobile defenders in the league.   The Swedes will probably utilize his skills on the power play, where he has generated 13 of his 29 points. 

Jonathan Ericsson (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Eriksson plays with fellow Swedish defenseman Niklas Kronwall in Detroit, so it wouldn't be surprising if the two of them remained together in Sochi.  Ericsson leads the Wings' defense corps with a plus-9 rating in 38 appearances this season and he's accustomed with playing against the top players of the opposition.

Niklas Hjalmarsson (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - He is having a career year offensively for the Chicago Blackhawks this season, with 23 points in 60 games, but he's mostly known for being a steady and responsible defenseman in his own zone.  Hjalmarsson is also an excellent penalty killer and blocks plenty of shots.

Johnny Oduya (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Nothing stands out when it comes to Oduya's game.  He isn't an offensive threat and he isn't very physical, but he gets the job done well in Chicago.  Oduya has good mobility and his chemistry with Hjalmarsson, as members and defense partners of the Blackhawks, should keep him in Sweden's lineup for most of the tournament.  

Henrik Tallinder (Buffalo Sabres - NHL) - He's been disappointing in Buffalo this season.  Tallinder struggled with injuries and poor play in his last two seasons with New Jersey prior to being re-acquired by the Sabres this past summer.  It hasn't been a successful homecoming and he'll probably serve as an extra for the Swedes in Sochi. 

Forwards:

Henrik Zetterberg (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - He'll captain the Swedish team at the 2014 Sochi Games just like does in North America with Detroit.  Zetterberg hasn't let a wonky back slow him down this season, as he has amassed 16 goals and a team-leading 48 points in 45 games.  He'll be a key playmaker for Sweden at the tournament and he'll make their power play very dangerous alongside Ottawa's Erik Karlsson.  Zetterberg's versatility to play center or the wing will also probably be used by the Swedes.    

Daniel Alfredsson (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - The veteran winger has always performed well for Sweden on the international stage and he'll be seeking another strong performance in Sochi in what will more than likely be his last Olympics.  The 41-year-old has shown he still has a knack for scoring points this year. Alfredsson has accounted for 14 goals and 35 points in 46 games with Detroit. 

Nicklas Backstrom (Washington Capitals - NHL) - Backstrom is one of the better playmakers in the league and he's tied for third in the NHL with 45 helpers in 59 games this season.  He'll have plenty of skilled players to dish the puck to during the Olympics and he will be another key member of Sweden's power play group.  Backstrom leads the NHL in power-play points with a total of 31. 

Marcus Johansson (Washington Capitals - NHL) - Johansson got the call for the Olympics after Henrik Sedin was forced to pull out because of a rib injury.  He can play center or the wing and his chemistry with Washington teammate Nicklas Backstrom will probably see the two of them skate on the same line in Sochi.  If they were to play together then they would need a shooter on the other wing because they are both pass-first players. 

Daniel Sedin (Vancouver Canucks - NHL) - Daniel will enter the Olympics on a serious cold streak.  He has produced 13 goals and 40 points in 60 games, which is well below his typical pace but has not found the back of the net in the 2014 calendar year.  Vancouver has struggled to score this season and the inability of the Sedin twins to produce like they normally do has had a lot do with that.  Perhaps representing his country in the Winter Games can shake him out of his slump, but he'll have to do it without his brother because Henrik is injured and won't play in Sochi. 

Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado Avalanche - NHL) - Colorado's young captain has been surging offensively since late December and he has 48 points in 57 games this season.  He excels at playing a North-American style game, but his skills are well suited for the larger ice as well.  This will be his first appearance at the Olympics. 

Alexander Steen (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Steen has enjoyed a stellar season with St. Louis in 2013-14 and he's done despite suffering a concussion.  He also suffered a broken toe not too long ago, but it didn't keep him from staying in the starting lineup.  Steen has already established a new personal best with 28 goals and he's on pace to shatter his previous high for points (51) as he currently has amassed a total of 46 in just 46 contests. 

Loui Eriksson (Boston Bruins - NHL) - A pair of concussions in 45 days has sidetracked Eriksson's first year in Boston.  He has six goals and 14 assists in 37 outings.  Eriksson was projected to play in the Bruins' top-six group, but he's been relegated to the third line since his return from his second trip to the infirmary.  However, he shouldn't be dismissed entirely as an afterthought on Sweden's roster.  He has good two-way instincts and could play anywhere in the lineup.   He may be paired with Daniel Sedin during the Olympics because he has had success with the Sedins at international competitions in the past.

Gustav Nyquist (Detroit Red Wings - NHL) - Nyquist was placed on Sweden's roster as an injury replacement for his Detroit teammate, Johan Franzen.  The Red Wings' salary cap restraints forced Nyquist to open the regular season in the minors, but he's been superb at the NHL level since rejoining the team because of injuries.  He has clicked with Henrik Zetterberg on the top line and the two of them may see time together in Sochi as well. 

Carl Hagelin (New York Rangers - NHL) - He missed the start of the 2013-14 campaign because of shoulder surgery and he's produced 23 points in 49 games.  Hagelin's incredible speed will be put to good use on the larger ice of the Olympic games, but it's hard to envision him making much of a dent offensively during the tournament. 

Marcus Kruger (Chicago Blackhawks - NHL) - Kruger is capable of chipping in offense, but he's mostly used as penalty killer and a defensive presence by Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville.  It stands to reason that Sweden will employ Kruger in similar roles during the Olympics. 

Patrik Berglund (St. Louis Blues - NHL) - Berglund has taken a step back offensively this season.  He wasn't expected to duplicate his 23 percent shooting success rate in 2013-14, but he's recorded just eight goals and 24 points in 54 games.  The big-bodied forward should fill a depth role with Sweden at the tournament because he can succeed at both ends of the ice. 

Jakob Silfverberg (Anaheim Ducks - NHL) - A broken had knocked Silfverberg out of Anaheim's lineup for 24 games.  He has registered six goals and 15 points in 32 games this season, which is disappointing because he was picked by many as a candidate to have a breakout year. 

Jimmie Ericsson (Skelleftea AIK - SHL) - He is the older brother of Detroit defenseman Jonathan Ericsson and plays for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League.  He can play center or the wing and is a solid two-way player who doesn't shy away from physicality.  In 43 games in Sweden's top league, Ericsson has tallied 13 goals, 27 points and 50 penalty minutes this season.    

Switzerland

Goalies:

Reto Berra (Calgary Flames – NHL) – Berra was originally taken in the fourth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the St. Louis Blues, but he never ended up playing for them. Instead he developed in the Swiss League.  He was named the league’s top goaltender in 2011-12.  With the Calgary Flames looking for goaltending in 2013 and preparing for Miikka Kiprusoff’s imminent retirement, they acquired Berra’s rights from the Blues as part of the Jay Bouwmeester deal.  After that, Berra helped Switzerland win the silver medal in the 2013 World Championship.  It was the first time they won a medal in the tournament since their bronze in 1953 and it helped set up his move to the NHL.  He's been splitting the goaltending duties in Calgary with Karri Ramo.

Jonas Hiller (Anaheim Ducks – NHL) – If Switzerland makes a run in the 2014 Winter Olympics, it will have to be thanks to Hiller.  The Anaheim Ducks starting goaltender is the most talented active Swiss player, not to mention one of the better goaltenders in the NHL.  He has a 2.34 GAA and .917 save percentage in 39 starts to help propel the Ducks to the top of the Pacific Division.  Hiller was also the Swiss’ top netminder in the 2010 Winter Olympics.  He led them to the Quarterfinals were he stopped 42 of 43 shots in a 2-0 loss to the United States.

Tobias Stephan (Geneve Servette – SWI) – The Dallas Stars selected Stephan in the second round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.  His NHL career only lasted 11 games as he went back to the Swiss League after the 2008-09 campaign.  He’s been superb is Europe, but should be regarded as the team’s third goalie behind Berra and Hiller.

Defensemen:

Severin Blindenbacher (Zurich – SWI) – Blindenbacher had a goal and 10 points in 26 AHL games with the Texas Stars in 2010-11, but he’s otherwise spent his entire career in Europe.  The 30-year-old is a regular participant in International tournaments and is a veteran of the 2006 and 2010 Winter Olympics.  He had a goal, an assist, and four penalty minutes in the 2010 tournament.  He has 13 points and 44 penalty minutes in 47 contests in 2013-14.

Rafael Diaz (Vancouver Canucks – NHL) – Diaz was never drafted by an NHL club, but he developed in the Swiss League to the point where he recorded over 30 points in back-to-back campaigns.  That accomplishment becomes more impressive when you factor in that the NLA has a 50-game season.  Diaz joined the Montreal Canadiens in 2011-12 and had become a regular on their blueline before the Canucks acquired him on Feb. 3 in exchange for Dale Weise.  He now has a goal and 13 points in 49 games this season.

Philippe Furrer (Bern – SWI) – Although New York Rangers took him in the sixth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Furrer’s experience with North American hockey is limited to international events like the 2010 Winter Olympics.  He represented Switzerland in that tournament as well, recording a point in five contests.  Beyond that and other international events like the World Championship, Furrer has spent his professional career playing exclusively in the Swiss League.  He has battled a concussion this season and has been limited to 16 games as a result.

Roman Josi (Nashville Predators – NHL) – Furrer and Josi have spent several seasons together playing with Bern, but while Furrer was never able to move past that level, the same cannot be said for Josi.  At the age of 23, he already has 141 NHL games under his belt with the Nashville Predators.  He’s been invaluable to the Predators this season with eight goals and 25 points in 49 matches this season.  He also ranks fifth in the league with an average of 26:15 minutes per contest.

Mathias Seger (Zurich – SWI) – Given that he’s never played in an NHL game and  wasn’t even drafted, it would be understandable if you had no idea who Seger was.  However, he was named the team captain over all of the NHL talent on this squad and there’s a reason for it.  The 36-year-old has dedicated his professional career to playing for Switzerland and has consequently participated in 15 World Championships.  That mark has only been matched by Finland’s Petteri Nummelin.  This will also be his fourth Olympic tournament.  He’s playing in his 15th season with Zurich of the Swiss League and has 16 points and 64 penalty minutes in 42 contests in 2013-14.

Mark Streit (Philadelphia Flyers – NHL) – Although this might not be true in a couple of years with the rise of Nino Niederreiter, Sven Baertschi, and Damien Brunner, Switzerland has never been known for producing NHL-caliber offensive forwards.  So it seems appropriate that the all-time scoring leader among Swiss players is defenseman Streit (technically it’s actually retired NHLer Mark Hardy, another defenseman, but even though he was born in Switzerland, he grew up in Montreal and played internationally for Canada).  Now 36, Streit played primarily in the Swiss league until his late 20s.  He joined the Canadiens in 2005-06 and after a one-campaign adjustment, emerged as one of the NHL’s best offensive defensemen.  He’s recorded at least 45 points on four separate occasions and has an outside shot of reaching that mark again.

Julien Vauclair (Lugano – SWI) – Vauclair was taken with the 74th overall pick in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators and had some solid seasons in the AHL.  He even played for Ottawa in 2003-04, albeit in a single contest.  After his cup of coffee, he returned to his roots, playing for Lugano of the Swiss League and has been with them since.  The 34-year-old has nine points in 28 games this season.

Yannick Weber (Vancouver Canucks – NHL) – Weber had 18 points in 60 games with Montreal in 2011-12, but he hasn’t been able to replicate that level of success since.  He participated in just six contests in the shortened campaign, in part due to injuries.  He inked a one-year deal with Vancouver over the summer, but in November he was placed on waivers and went unclaimed.  The Canucks had him spend nearly a month in the AHL.  He has excelled offensively in the OHL and minors, but has just 37 points in 147 career games in the NHL.

Forwards:

Andres Ambuhl (Davos – SWI) – Ambuhl has spent almost his entire career playing in the Swiss League for Davos and Zurich.  He was never drafted by an NHL club and the closest he ever came to advancing to that level was the campaign he spent with the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack.  After recording 14 points and 37 penalty minutes in 64 AHL contests in 2009-10, he returned to the Swiss League.  The 30-year-old has eight goals and 28 points in 46 games in 2013-14.

Matthias Bieber (Kloten – SWI) – After serving in the World Championship for three consecutive years, Bieber has earned the right to serve his country in the Olympics for the first time.  The 27-year-old has spent his career in the Swiss League, which has a 50-game season, and he’s recorded at least 20 points in four of his last five campaigns.  That being said, this has been one of his better seasons with 15 goals and 32 points in 46 games.

Simon Bodenmann (Kloten – SWI) – Bodenmann made his Swiss League debut with Kloten back when he was still a teenager and he’s gradually established himself as a major player on the team.  He set a new career-high in 2012-13 with 28 points in 49 contests and he probably would have done even better this season if he didn’t miss a significant portion of the campaign due to an injury.  As it is, he still has nine goals and 26 points in 34 contests in 2013-14.

Damien Brunner (New Jersey Devils – NHL) – As mentioned above, Switzerland isn’t known for producing many skilled forwards capable of holding their own in the NHL level.  Brunner has proven to be an exception to that rule.  From 2009-10 through 2011-12, Brunner scored a remarkable 66 goals and 164 points in 132 Swiss League games.  In 2011-12, he led the league with 60 points, nine ahead of his closest rival.  That prompted the Detroit Red Wings to offer him a one-year deal for the 2012-13 campaign.  The lockout forced him to spend an additional 33 games with Switzerland’s Zug, where he scored 25 goals and 57 points in just 33 contests, before finally making his NHL debut.  He’s been hot-and-cold in North America, but has averaged out to be a solid offensive forward.  For now, he’s the greatest scoring threat Switzerland has.

Luca Cunti (Zurich – SWI) – Cunti made an attempt to make a career for himself in North America.  After being selected in the third round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Tampa Bay Lightning, Cunti left the Swiss League to join the USHL Chicago Steel at the age of 18.  He followed it up with a season in the QMJHL where he scored 20 goals and 45 points in 57 contests, but after that he returned to the Swiss League and has remained there.  He’s one of Zurich’s best players with 18 goals and 42 points in 43 contests this season.

Ryan Gardner (Bern – SWI) – One of the veterans of the Swiss team, Gardner was actually born in Toronto and spent his junior years in the OHL before transitioning to the Swiss League in 1997-98.  He has stayed with the Swiss League since and although he was on Team Canada for three straight Spengler Cup’s from 2004-05 through 2006-07, he has played internationally for Switzerland since the 2008-09 campaign.  This will be his first Olympics, but he has taken part in three World Championships.  The 35-year-old has nine goals and 28 points in 44 games this season. Ryan comes from a hockey family as his grandfather was Cal Gardner while his dad Dave and uncle Paul also played in the NHL

Denis Hollenstein (Geneve Servette – SWI) – After spending two campaigns with the OHL Guelph Storm, Hollenstein went back to his native Switzerland to play with Kloten in 2009-10 and hasn’t looked back.  In 2012-13, he led all Swiss-born players under the age of 24 in both points (37) and penalty minutes (89) in 48 contests.  The only players in that age bracket who topped him in points were Canadian-born forwards John Tavares and Tyler Seguin, who were of course riding out the lockout in Switzerland.  Although he missed part of the 2013-14 campaign, Hollenstein has been superb with 33 points and 53 penalty minutes in 37 matches.

Simon Moser (Nashville Predators – NHL) – Moser was never drafted by an NHL squad, but he’s hoping to eventually play in North America’s top league.  After recording 21 points and 44 penalty minutes in 35 Swiss League contests in 2012-13, Moser attended the Nashville Predators’ training camp.  He earned a one-year, two-way contract and was assigned to AHL Milwaukee.  Although his deal gave him the right to return to Switzerland if he was still in the minors by Dec. 15, he opted to stay in North America.  He now has 25 points in 40 AHL contests and an assist with the Predators.

Nino Niederreiter (Minnesota Wild – NHL) – More than any other player, Niederreiter has the potential to become the nation’s first NHL-level star forward.  He became the highest-drafted Swiss player when the New York Islanders selected him with the fifth overall pick in 2010, but he never able to make an impact with that club.  Instead the Islanders shipped him to Minnesota where he’s finally gotten a chance to serve as a top-six forward.  The 21-year-old forward has more than held his own with 11 goals and 29 points in 59 contests.  Despite his youth, he should play a prominent role on the Swiss team.

Martin Pluss (Bern – SWI) – At the age of 36, this will be Pluss’ fourth trip to the Olympics.  He had three assists in five games with Switzerland in 2010.  At his height, he played in the Swedish Elite League and was one of the league’s top players.  He’s with Bern of the Swiss League now and is still doing his part with 13 goals and 33 points in 41 contests this season.

Kevin Romy (Geneve Servette – SWI) – Romy was taken in the fourth round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers, but he never ended up playing in North America.  Instead the 29-year-old forward has spent his career in the Swiss League.  He’s frequently served his country in the World Championship, but this will be his first chance to play in the Olympics.  He has 10 goals and 18 assists in 45 games in 2013-14.

Reto Suri (Zug – SWI) – Suri was never drafted by an NHL squad, but he came close to playing in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s organization this season.  The Lightning tried to ink him last year, but the Swiss federation opted to protect Zug’s rights to Suri as he’s under contract with the Swiss League team through the 2014-15 campaign.  He still might end up making the move to North America, but for now

Suri's having the best season of his career with 12 goals and 36 points in 46 games.  It’s worth adding that Suri had eight points in 10 games during the 2013 World Championship, which put him in the same range as NHL stars like Claude Giroux.

Morris Trachsler (Zurich – SWI) – Trachsler has never been an offensive force and at the age of 29, that’s not likely to change.  That being said, he’s been solid defensively at the Swiss League level.  He’s also played in four World Championships with Switzerland and was part of their silver medal squad in 2013.  He has eight goals and six assists in 36 games this season.

Roman Wick (Zurich – SWI) – Wick spent the 2010-11 campaign in North America and even ended up participating in seven games with the Ottawa Senators.  However, he went back to Switzerland the following season and is in his second campaign with Zurich.  He never recorded a point with the Senators, but he was solid offensively in the AHL and is an elite player in the Swiss League.  In 2013-14, he has 22 goals, 24 assists, and 56 penalty minutes in 44 games.

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League type:
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League size:
10 players
Draft time:
Aug 30 9:00 am
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