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Slovakia's NHL vets likely key parts of Olympic team

Sunday, 07.21.2013 / 12:00 PM
Corey Masisak  - NHL.com Staff Writer

It is official: The NHL, NHL Players' Association and International Ice Hockey Federation have announced there will be NHL players at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Prior to the agreement between the NHL, NHLPA and IIHF, NHL.com had three writers select the team they would take to Sochi for each of the "big seven" hockey-playing nations. Note: This is not the team the writers project each country's hockey federation will select, but the team they would select at this point.

Slovakia has yet to medal in hockey at the Olympics since becoming an independent nation in 1993, but the country's fourth-place finish in 2010 was a triumph. The Slovakians, an aging team with a core expected to be on its last Olympic run together, defeated Russia in the preliminary round, upset Sweden in the quarterfinals, and nearly stunned Canada in the semifinals.

A few key players from the 2010 team no are longer in the NHL but could represent Slovakia in Sochi. The 2014 squad likely will be anchored by its established NHL stars: defenseman Zdeno Chara, forwards Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik, and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

The goaltending looks set; all three NHL.com writers have the same three netminders (Halak, Peter Budaj and Jaroslav Janus). There are some safe bets to fill in around Hossa and Gaborik at forward: Michal Handzus, Tomas Kopecky, Richard Panik and former NHL stars Ziggy Palffy and Miroslav Satan.

Where it gets interesting for Slovakia is with its younger players. Will the country's federation select exciting young players Marko Dano, Tomas Jurco and Tomas Tatar to help get a new generation of talent some Olympic experience? Or will the roster be filled out with veterans playing in Europe?

There are a couple of other quality NHL defensemen to supplement Chara, notably Andrej Meszaros and Andrej Sekera. But this team likely will go as far as Chara and Halak can carry it -- and it went further than most people expected in 2010.

Here are the projected rosters for Slovakia:

SLOVAKIA

COREY MASISAK

FORWARDS

Marko Dano

Marian Gaborik

Michal Handzus

Marian Hossa

Tomas Jurco

Tomas Kopecky

Ziggy Palffy

Richard Panik

Stefan Ruzicka

Miroslav Satan

Tomas Surovy

Tomas Tatar

Tomas Zaborsky

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara

Dominik Granak

Milan Jurcina

Andrej Meszaros

Branislav Mezei

Andrej Sekera

Lubomir Visnovsky

GOALIES

Peter Budaj

Jaroslav Halak

Jaroslav Janus

MIKE MORREALE

FORWARDS

Mario Bliznak

Marko Dano

Marian Gaborik

Michal Handzus

Marcel Hossa

Marian Hossa

Tomas Jurco

Tomas Kopecky

Milan Kytnar

Michel Miklik

Richard Panik

Miroslav Satan

Tomas Tatar

DEFENSEMEN

Zdeno Chara

Milan Jurcina

Andrej Meszaros

Andrej Sekera

Martin Stajnoch

Jan Tabacek

Lubomir Visnovsky

GOALIES

Peter Budaj

Jaroslav Halak

Jaroslav Janus

JOHN KREISER

FORWARDS

Lubos Bartecko

Martin Cibak

Marian Gaborik

Michal Handzus

Marcel Hossa

Marian Hossa

Libor Hudacek

Tomas Kopecky

Juraj Mikus

Richard Panik

Branko Radivojevic

Miroslav Satan

Tomas Tatar

DEFENSEMEN

Ivan Baranka

Zdeno Chara

Dominik Granak

Milan Jurcina

Andrej Meszaros

Andrej Sekera

Lubomir Visnovsky

GOALIES

Peter Budaj

Jaroslav Halak

Jaroslav Janus

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