Erat to replace Sobotka on Czech Olympic team

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The Czech national team continued to surprise on Tuesday, announcing that beleaguered Washington forward Martin Erat had been named as an injury replacement for the Olympics.

Erat will take the place of St. Louis forward Vladimir Sobotka, who is currently sidelined with a leg issue.

Erat, 32, has struggled mightily in Washington this year and has zero goals (21 assists, though) in 48 games. He’s been a healthy scratch on a few occasions and has demanded a trade out of Washington, yet was still named as Sobotka’s replacement over a number of seemingly good candidates.

Calgary’s Jiri Hudler is one. He leads the Flames with 42 points through 55 games and is the third-leading Czech scorer in the NHL this year, trailing only Boston’s David Krejci and New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr.

Another is Phoenix’s Radim Vrbata. He has 13 goals and 37 points in 53 games, scored a career-high 35 goals during the 2011-12 campaign and leads the ‘Yotes in power play goals this year, with six.

The Czechs also passed on Sharks forward Martin Havlat (who has been injured for most of this season) and Carolina’s Jiri Tlusty.