2018 Team Czech Republic roster with NHLers
The Bruins are getting a well-deserved bye week. We here at Bruins Daily, however, don’t have that luxury. So, to make the most of the next few days, your’s truly and Anthony Travalgia came up with an idea to project the men’s hockey rosters for this year’s Winter Olympics if they included the talented players from the National Hockey League.
It’s been 20 years since Dominick Hasek figuratively stood on his head against the likes of Wayne Gretzky, Sergei Fedorov, Steve Yzerman and other all-time greats to lead the Czech Republic to their first-ever gold medal. Those games took place in Nagano, Japan, and marked the first time that NHL players participated in the Winter Olympics.
It hasn’t been the same in the time since. The Czech’s only medaled twice — third-place finishes in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey and 2006 Olympics — and haven’t finished higher than sixth (2016 World Cup) since their last bronze (sans IIHF World Championships).
Here’s how Team Czech Republic would’ve looked with the NHL’s best.
Forwards: David Pastrnak, David Krejci, Jakub Voracek, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Hertl, Vladimir Sobotka, Tomas Plekanec, Michael Frolik, Radek Faska, Radim Vrbata, Martin Hanzal, Jaromir Jagr, Jiri Sekac (KHL), Andrej Nestrasil (KHL)
Rationale: Though they haven’t skated together for much of the season in Boston, Bruins fans would be treated to the Krejci-Pastrnak duo. A power play with Pastrnak, Voracek and Krejci up front would’ve been interesting to watch.
Sobotka, Palat and Hertl are all solid top-six options. Jagr and Plekanec provide some steady veteran leadership and are good third line options. Though Jagr’s knee issues have plagued him in Calgary — and could force him out of the NHL for the rest of the year — it’s hard to imagine a Czech team without the second leading scorer in league history.
Aside from that, there wasn’t much to choose from in terms of depth at either the NHL or European level.
Defensemen: Jan Rutta, Roman Polak, Michal Kempney, Radko Gudas, Andrej Sustr, Vojtech Mozik (KHL), Jakub Nakladal (KHL), Libor Sudak (Liiga)
Rationale: Really not much to discuss here, especially when the best defensemen here is Gudas. Ruuta and Kempney are still developing their game at the NHL level and could lead the Blackhawks blueline once Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are past their primes. Even then, its far from a guarantee.
Goalies: Michal Neuvirth, Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak (KHL)
Rationale: Two backups and a KHL mainstay make up the goaltending. Again, not much depth here. If only Hasek was convinced to come out of retirement for two weeks.