Slovakia comes into 2010 ranked 9th. Just 6 years ago they were ranked 3rd. In 2002 they won the World Hockey championships and they medalled in 3 of the 4 championships from 2000 to 2003. But after that they have regressed quickly. Falling to an all time low of 13th just in 2008.
This team has a lot of NHLers & former NHLers making it up & on paper a casual hockey fan might see them as a good team still. The reality though is, they are top heavy on strong top end talent, and their bottom end talent, although having NHL fan familiar names scattered thru, arent at that level right now.
The Slovaks probably still have dreams of a medal round appearance, and truthfully, in a single knock out system, they have a narrow chance. A very narrow chance, but a chance still. Realistically though, they are probably aiming for a top 6 finish & pushing their world rankings up a bit.
Jaroslav Halak- MONTREAL CANADIENS (NHL) Possibly the best goalie the Habs have will get his chance to shine in Vancouver & will very likely give this team a chance every night to win.
Peter Budaj- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) Might get a start or two against the weaker teams, Peter will be the unchallenged back up most likely.
Rastislav Stana- CHEREPOVETS SEVERSTAL (KHL) He will be there waiting eagerly to get a chance if 1 of the NHL goalies falters.
Zdeno Chara- BOSTON BRUINS (NHL) With a Norris Trophy for leagues top defenseman recently placed on his mantlepiece, Zdeno has no worries about making the team. His only worries will be about how he can carry his team to greater heights than people will expect of them.
Lubomir Visnovsky- EDMONTON OILERS (NHL) One of the NHLs top power play specialists, Lubomir will give Slovakia a powerful PP unit.
Andrej Meszaros- TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (NHL) A couple years ago Andrej looked poised to become an elite NHL defenseman. Since being traded hes settled in as an adequate defenseman. Still good enough to make this teams top 4 unit, this Olympics might be more important for Andrej whole career than just the Olympic team, as he looks to regain some of the flash he was developing early in his career.
Milan Jurcina- WASHINGTON CAPITALS (NHL) This 6'4 240 lb tough hitting dman will give the Slovaks a formidable force out there when Zdeno isnt out there.
Andrej Sekera- BUFFALO SABRES (NHL). Hes improved each season in the NHL so far. This tourney might go a long way into boosting his self confidence. Might battle Meszaros for top 4 minutes if he struggles.
Boris Valabik- ATLANTA THRASHERS (NHL). At 6'7, the Thrashers 2004 1st round pick is expected to be a Chara type player down the road. This tourney might give the Atlanta brass some insight into if hes developing that way.
Martin Strbak- BALASHIKHA MVD HC (KHL) Martin is having a decent year in Russia & is probably going to be the teams #7 dman.
Marian Hossa- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) Often considered the greatest forward from Slovakia, this year Marian has gotten off to a slow start because of injury, but still has a cemented place ont his team....barring more injuries.
Marian Gaborik- NEW YORK RANGERS (NHL) The often injured potential super star is finally having an injury free year so far, and is amongst the top scorers in the league. 1st line is a lock.
Marcel Hossa- RIGA DYNAMO (KHL) The leading scorer on his team, Marcel is making lots of noise to be the other top line piece for the national team.
Branko Radivojevic- MOSCOW SPARTAK (KHL) Like Marcel, top scorer on his team. branko will definitely be a 2nd line lock, if not first line.
Michal Handzus- LOS ANGELES KINGS (NHL) Michal will be expected to play a strong 2 way game on 2nd or 3rd line.
Marek Svatos- COLORADO AVALANCHE (NHL) Marek has regressed some in recent years, but is still a capable energy line type player.
Josef Vasicek- YAROSLAVL LOKOMOTIV (KHL) Having a solid year in Russia. Probable top 2 line player, at worst 3rd line.
Josef Stumpel- ASTANA BARYS (KHL). Having a solid year offensively. Should contribute decent 3rd line minutes.
Zigmund Palffy- SKALICA HK 36 (SLOVAKIA)- The leagues top scorer will make the team, but will likely pull in only 3rd line minutes. But with the talent he possesses, he could be pushed into a top line spot if needed & likely adjust quickly.
Tomas Kopecky- CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (NHL) Is not having a very productive year in Chitown, but will still make the team
Richard Zednik- YAROSLAVL LOKOMOTIV (KHL)- 200 NHl goals, 700+ games will make him valuable for experience & will probably get in a few nights as a 3rd line or checking line player.
Stefan Ruzicka- MOSCOW SPARTAK (KHL)- Having a decent year in Russia. Will be most useful if he can play a checking game as they have far more qualified scorers.
Roman Kukumberg- TOLYATTI LADA (KHL)- Also having a decent season. Will also be more valuable for checking line status than scoring, but has scoring capabilities if called upon.
Maybes- Ivan Baranka, Peter Olvecky, Mario Bliznak, Tomas Tatar, Juraj Simek, Martin Cibak, Robert Petrovicky.
Canadagraphs Hockey Blogs
From time to time I have something to say on hockey. Whether its the Vancouver Canucks, NHL in general, Womens Hockey or International Hockey...if I have something to post, it will be in here.