BUFFALO, NY - FEBRUARY 07: Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres celebrates after scoring a shootout goal against Peter Budaj #30 of the Montreal Canadiens on February 7, 2013 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo defeated Montreal, 4-3, in an overtime shootout. (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

Three countries qualify for Olympics, finalize tournament brackets


Slovenia, Latvia, and Austria will all get to participate in the men’s hockey tournament of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi after winning their respective qualifying brackets, according to TSN and the NHL.com.

Assuming the NHL participates in the games, that means Buffalo Sabres forward and current NHL scoring leader Thomas Vanek will get to represent his native Austria. He’ll likely be joined by New York Islanders forward Michael Grabner.

Slovenia is equally thin when it comes to NHL talent, but they’re also projected to be led by a superstar. Anze Kopitar played a big role in the Los Angeles Kings’ 2012 Stanley Cup run and he now should have the opportunity to represent his country on the biggest international stage.

Unfortunately, Latvia doesn’t have an NHL star to rally around. 24-year-old forward Kaspars Daugavins is the only Latvian on an NHL active roster. Daugavins has an assist in five games with the Ottawa Senators this season.

Latvia will join Group C and play against Switzerland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic.

Group B will feature Canada, Finland, Norway, and Austria.

Finally, Slovenia and Kopitar will have their work cut out for them in a group that contains the United States, Slovakia, and Russia.


PHT Extra: How do Team USA, Canada, Russia look a year before the Olympics?

PHT Morning Skate: NHL stars weigh in on McDavid

Connor McDavid
The Canadian Press via AP
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Some of the NHL’s top players discuss Connor McDavid‘s potential and the hype surrounding him. (Toronto Sun)

While we’re on the subject, Wayne Gretzky recalls what it was like for him going into the NHL and what’s in store for McDavid. (Edmonton Sun)

Sam Gagner is about to start a key season in his career. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

It’s time for the Washington Capitals to make some tough calls, particularly when it comes to Derek Roy. (CSN Mid-Atlantic)

With Raffi Torres hearing scheduled for today, here’s a look back at his suspension history. (San Jose Mercury News)

The Chicago Blackhawks have gotten their championship rings. (NHL.com)

Report: Islanders cut first-rounder Barzal from camp

Mathew Barzal
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It seems Mathew Barzal has played in his last game in a New York Islanders’ uniform for a little while.

Barzal took part in the Islanders’ preseason finale against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, but after that contest the Islanders decided to return him to WHL Seattle, per Newsday’s Arthur Staple.

He was taken with the 16th overall pick in 2015 NHL Entry Draft. That selection was well-traveled as it originally belonged to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but was involved in the David Perron trade and then moved to the Islanders as part of Edmonton’s deal to get Griffin Reinhart.

Barzal is noteworthy for his skill and speed, but he may have slipped in the draft due to a knee injury he sustained during the 2014-15 campaign.

The Islanders also reassigned Kirill Petrov, Kevin Czuczman, Scott Mayfield, and Adam Pelech to the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers.