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Off To The Worlds

by Staff Writer / Florida Panthers
Rookie Michael Frolik will represent the Czech Republic at the World Championships in Switzerland.  (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)
By Dave Joseph for

Panthers Michael Frolik, Rostislav Olesz and Karlis Skrastins have been selected to represent their countries at the IIHF Men’s World Championship, beginning Friday in Switzerland.

The three join defenseman Keith Ballard, who was selected last week to play for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Frolik and Olesz will play for the Czech Republic while Skrastins will represent Latvia. Janis Sprukts, a former seventh-round draft pick who has spent the past two seasons in the Panthers’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate in Rochester, will also play for Latvia.

Frolik, 21, enjoyed one of the best rookie seasons in Panthers history, scoring 21 goals (two game-winners) and 24 assists. Frolik’s 21 goals came in the final 58 games of the season.

He finished sixth among NHL rookies in scoring (45) and was tied for seventh among rookies in assist. Frolik became only the third rookie in Panther history to score 20 or more goals.

Olesz played only 37 games for the Panthers, missing 41 games with a sports hernia. The 23-year-old finished the season with four goals and five assists.

Frolik and Olesz will be joined on the Czech national team by former NHL star Jaromir Jagr.

Skrastins, 34, playing his first full season with the Panthers, set a career-high in assists (14) and points (18). He also led the Panthers and finished ninth in the NHL in blocked shots (171).

Sprukts, drafted by the Panthers in 2000, played one game with the Panthers this season (Dec. 6 against Boston). He had 16 goals and 37 assists in Rochester.

The 73rd IIHF World Championships will be held in Berne and Zurich-Kloten. Click here for schedule and game time.
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