Czechia has become the latest team to announce their 2022 men’s Olympic hockey roster, boasting a few former NHL-ers. The 25-man roster will compete in Beijing starting on Feb. 9 against Denmark.
While NHL players currently under contract aren’t invited to play, including big names like David Pastrňák, there is plenty of talent on this roster.
The biggest name on the roster is hands-down David Krejčí. He was a pillar of a dominant top-six for the Boston Bruins for years, helping them on their way to three Stanley Cup finals and winning once.
He was a shifty and smart passer, producing 215 goals and 730 points over a 15-year career with the Bruins. He retired from the NHL last year but has continued to play in his native Czechia, dominating play at centre.
If the Czechs are going to make noise in the Olympics, he’s going to have to be on his A-game.
Perhaps the second-best player on the team, Michael Frolík carved out a respectable NHL career that spanned 13 seasons. Although he couldn’t produce to the level of Krejčí, he was able to put up 159 goals and 384 points over his time in the league.
The highlight of his career would be his three goals and 10 points on the way to a Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. He ended up as a cap-related casualty from a Blackhawks roster that lost the likes of Dustin Byfuglien and many others in the years that followed.
He made some noise later in his career about the treatment he received as a part of the Montreal Canadiens organization, calling them out for “putting an end” to his career. Regardless, he will be one of Czechia’s best players and will likely be a mainstay on their top line.
The last player with significant NHL experience is Vladimír Sobotka, who put up 53 goals and 171 points in a career spanning 548 games.
He bounced in and out of the league during his NHL career, spending a few years overseas in his native Czechia but then came back to the St. Louis Blues and Buffalo Sabres for a few seasons. He was a middle-six winger for most of his career and put up a career-high 33 points in 2013-14. Look for him to round out a solid top-six for the Czechs.
Other Notable Players
While there isn’t a ton of NHL experience outside of the three previously named players, there is still plenty of quality up front for Czechia.
Roman Červenka has played all over Europe, from the KHL, to Czechia, and lately in Switzerland. He’s 36 years old and can still put the puck in the net.
Another veteran on the roster is 33-year-old Michal Řepík, who spent some time in the NHL and American Hockey League (AHL), mainly with the Florida Panthers organization. He also played in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) and currently captains HC Sparta Praha in the Czech League.
Tomas Hyka has been productive in a number of leagues around the world, except for the NHL. He brings a ton of skill and is one of the younger players on the roster at 28 years old.
Other noteworthy players include: Jan Kovář, Lukáš Sedlák, and Michael Špaček.
Holes in the Roster
Although Czechia has some firepower up front, they seem to be lacking strength on defense and in net. They simply don’t have as many NHL-quality players on the back end and may struggle to keep pucks out. This might steer them towards a more run-and-gun style of hockey, preferring to score off the rush.
They also have a nice goalie battle brewing between two former AHL goalies in Roman Will and Patrik Bartošák. Will played in one NHL game with the Colorado Avalanche, while Bartošák was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings and played 32 games with their AHL affiliate.
All in all, the roster looks like a medal contender, with big former NHLers and a few nice complementary pieces. For more, keep up to date with our Olympic hockey coverage here.
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Writer and hockey addict from the GTA, covering the Ottawa Senators. Leafs fan from birth, moved to BC to explore the mountains and find the strength to keep cheering. Love talking prospects, potential, and coaching strategies.