The next generation of Team Czech Republic was unveiled Wednesday with the naming of the first 16 players for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey by general manager Martin Rucinsky during a press conference in Prague.
Rucinsky named three goalies, four defensemen and nine forwards, but it was the player missing that drew perhaps the most attention.
Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr was not named to the initial roster. Jagr had announced his retirement from international play after the bronze-medal game of the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, Belarus, but there was hope that he would come back for this best-on-best tournament in North America, especially because it could be used as preparation for the 2016-17 season.
The World Cup of Hockey will run Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 in Toronto and coincides with the start of NHL training camps.
Instead it is a new guard of players, among them David Krejci and David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins, Jakub Voracek of the Philadelphia Flyers, Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tomas Hertl of the San Jose Sharks, that will look to become the focal point of the Czech offense.
Among the 16 players named Wednesday were two from the Kontinental Hockey League: defenseman Michal Kempny and forward Vladimir Sobotka, who played for the St. Louis Blues until the end of the 2013-14 season.
Biggest strength: Forward depth. Among the Czech forwards named Monday, six have between 32 and 49 points this season, led by Krejci, who has 14 goals and 35 assists.
Biggest weakness: Defensive-zone coverage. The Czechs named three NHL defenseman to the roster Wednesday and none plays more than 20 minutes a game for his club. Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers leads the charge with 19:59 per game.
Biggest surprise: Michal Kempny. The undrafted defenseman, 25, is in his first season in the KHL, playing for Avangard Omsk, where he has 21 points in 59 games.
Biggest omission: Zbynek Michalek. The veteran NHL defenseman has a ton of experience, including 764 NHL games. He is a stay-at-home, do-the-little-things defenseman the Czechs will be lacking in this tournament.
Petr Mrazek, Detroit Red Wings, G
Michal Neuvirth, Philadelphia Flyers, G
Ondrej Pavelec, Winnipeg Jets, G
Radko Gudas, Philadelphia Flyers, D
Michal Kempny, Avangard Omsk (KHL), D
Roman Polak, San Jose Sharks, D
Andrej Sustr, Tampa Bay Lightning, D
Michael Frolik, Calgary Flames, F
Martin Hanzal, Arizona Coyotes, F
Tomas Hertl, San Jose Sharks, F
David Krejci, Boston Bruins, F
Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning, F
David Pastrnak, Boston Bruins, F
Tomas Plekanec, Montreal Canadiens, F
Vladimir Sobotka, Avangard Omsk (KHL), F
Jakub Voracek, Philadelphia Flyers, F by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial