Czech stunner: Hudler, Vrbata snubbed from Olympic roster


According to news outlet, the Czech Republic has announced its roster for the 2014 Winter Olympics — and there are a few very notable omissions.

Calgary’s Jiri Hudler and Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata — the third- and fourth-leading Czech scorers in the NHL this season — have been left off, along with Florida forward Tomas Fleischmann.

Instead, the Czechs have gone with a number of veteran players, including 42-year-old ex-NHLer Peter Nedved and 30-year-old Jiri Novotny, both of whom play in the Czech Extraliga.

Hudler, 30, has 11 goals and 33 points in 41 games this year. The former Red Wing is averaging a career-high 19:01 TOI per game this season and has been highly praised by Flames head coach Bob Hartley.

Vrbata, 32, has 11 goals and 29 points in 39 games this year. The Phoenix sniper scored a career-high 35 goals during the 2011-12 campaign and is second on the team in power play goals this year, with five.

The Czech surprises didn’t end up front.

On defense, there were more curious snubs as well. St. Louis’ Roman Polak, Colorado’s Jan Hejda and Detroit’s Jakub Kindl were all passed over and in their place, a trio of Extraliga blueliners have been selected — Michal Barinka, Lukas Krajicek and former NHLer Tomas Kaberle.

In goal, only one NHL netminder — Pavelec — got the call. The likes of Michal Neuvirth (who said he didn’t expect to make the team), Nashville’s Marek Mazanec and Detroit’s Petr Mrazek were passed over.

Here’s the full roster, as per

Goalies: Ondrej Pavelec, Alexander Salak, Jakub Kovar

Defense: Michal Barinka, Michal Rozsival, Radko Gudas, Tomas Kaberle, Lukas Krajicek, Zbynek Michalek, Ladislav Smid, Marek Zidlicky

Forward: Roman Cervenka, Patrik Elias, Michael Frolik, Martin Hanzal, Ales Hemsky, Jaromir Jagr, David Krejci, Milan Michalek, Petr Nedved, Jiri Novotny, Ondrej Palat, Tomas Plekanec, Vladimir Sobotka, Jakub Voracek.

UPDATE: Vladimir Sobotka will not be available due to a leg injury. The Czech national team announced that Martin Erat will replace him.

Some other noteworthy omissions include San Jose’s Martin Havlat (currently injured), Washington’s Martin Erat and Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty.

It looks like Havlat won’t make Panthers

Martin Havlat
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As PHT’s mentioned before, the Florida Panthers stand as a fascinating contrast between youth and experience.

Let’s not kid ourselves, though; fresh faces usually beat out gray beards, at least when it comes to teams that are still trying to build toward contender status.

While it’s by no means official, two Panthers beat writers – the Miami Herald’s George Richards and the Florida Sun-Sentinel’s Harvey Fialkov – report that the Panthers are likely to pass on Martin Havlat.

It wasn’t just about the likes of Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad leading the charge. Other young Panthers (maybe most notably Quinton Howden and Connor Brickley) made the team, thus making Havlat less necessary.

One would assume that it might be tough for the 34-year-old to find work, at least if he insists upon only an NHL deal.

Health issues continue to dog him, but he’s no longer one of those guys who tantalizes with talent when he is healthy enough to play.

Havlat also doesn’t really bring much to the table defensively. While other veterans can kill penalties and show a little more verstaility, Havlat’s greatest selling point is scoring.

Could this be it for a solid career that may nonetheless end with a “What if?” or two?

Silfverberg is set to practice again after Torres hit

Jakob Silfverberg
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Considering all of the controversy surrounding the 41-game suspension for Raffi Torres, some might have lost track of the guy who received that hit: Jakob Silfverberg.

The good news is that, at the moment, it seems like he’s OK.

The Anaheim Ducks announced that he skated on his own and will be involved in the team’s next practice:

That falls in line with some of the fall-out from the hit, as head coach Bruce Boudreau let out a relieved “thank goodness” at the young forward seemingly dodging a bullet.

Here’s video of the hit and the suspension decision:

Silfverberg, 24, enjoyed a nice breakout in 2014-15, especially during the playoffs.

Keep in mind that injuries can sometimes crop up later than expected, especially potential head injuries/concussions. Still, it seems like the initial reaction is that the damage was minimal.