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Olympic rosters announced: strengths, weaknesses and players to watch

Jared Clinton
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Olympic rosters announced: strengths, weaknesses and players to watch

Ilya Kovalchuk Author: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

News

Olympic rosters announced: strengths, weaknesses and players to watch

Jared Clinton
By:

The Olympic rosters for the upcoming men's tournament in Pyeongchang have been released. We break down who to watch and the strengths and weaknesses of each roster.

In less than three weeks, the puck will officially drop on the men’s Olympic tournament in Pyeongchang. And on Thursday, the final roster for the event was released as Russia announced the players it will be sending to represent the country under a neutral flag at the Games.

While the rosters don’t feature any of the world’s top talent given the NHL’s decision to nix participation in Pyeongchang, there are still a number of notable names and familiar faces who will be participating for many of the top nations. Here are the rosters for each of the 12 men’s teams competing at the 2018 Olympics, as well as a brief rundown of the representatives: 

 

CANADA

Goaltenders: Justin Peters, Kolner Hale (GER); Kevin Poulin, Medvescak Zagreb (AUT); Ben Scrivens, Salavat Yulaev (RUS)

Defensemen: Stefan Elliott, HV 71 (SWE); Chay Genoway, Lada Togliatti (RUS); Cody Goloubef, Stockton Flames (AHL); Marc-Andre Gragnani, Dinamo Minsk (RUS); Chris Lee, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS); Maxim Noreau, SC Bern (SUI); Mat Robinson, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Karl Stollery, Dinamo Riga (RUS)

Forwards: Rene Bourque, Djurgardens (SWE); Gilbert Brule, Kunlun Red Star (RUS); Andrew Ebbett, SC Bern (SUI); Quinton Howden, Dinamo Minsk (RUS); Chris Kelly, Belleville Senators (AHL); Rob Klinkhammer, Ak Bars Kazan (RUS); Brandon Kozun, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (RUS); Maxim Lapierre, HC Lugano (SUI); Eric O’Dell, HC Sochi (RUS); Mason Raymond, SC Bern (SUI); Derek Roy, Linkoping HC (SWE); Christian Thomas, Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL); Linden Vey, Barys Astana (RUS); Wojtek Wolski, Kunlun Red Star (RUS)

Who To Watch: Vey has found his offensive game on the big ice in Russia, sitting fourth in league scoring with 17 goals and 52 points. He could be a difference-maker up front. Don’t overlook experienced NHLers such as Raymond, Wolski and Roy, either. They’ll be playing their hearts out after a career spent waiting for this opportunity. Noreau isn’t a household name in Canada, but the 30-year-old rearguard has been a stud offensive defenseman overseas and has twice captained the national team at the Spengler Cup.

Biggest Strength: Is the roster star-studded? Not when compared to past Olympic rosters. What Canada does possess, however, is depth at each position. Each individual skater is a standout in his own league and the collective ability of the group from top to bottom should allow Canada to, at the very least, battle for a spot on the podium.

Biggest Weakness: Overall team defense, including goaltending, could be an issue. Scrivens was considered the no-brainer to start at the tournament when the threat of no NHL presence loomed, but it wouldn’t be surprising were Poulin to overtake top spot in goal. He had a .971 save percentage and 1.00 goals-against average at the Spengler Cup. This will be a different level of competition, though.

 

UNITED STATES

Goaltenders: David Leggio, EHC Munchen (GER); Ryan Zapolski, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL); Brandon Maxwell, BK Mlada Boleslav (CZE)

Defensemen: Matt Gilroy, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL); Ryan Gunderson, Brynas IF (SWE); Jonathon Blum, Admiral Vladivostok (RUS); Bobby Sanguinetti, HC Lugano (SUI); Noah Welch, Vaxjo Lakers (SWE); Will Borgen, St. Cloud State University (NCAA); James Wisniewski, EC Kassel Huskies (GER-2); Chad Billins, Linkoping HC (SWE)

Forwards: Mark Arcobello, SC Bern (SUI); Chris Bourque, Hershey Bears (AHL); Troy Terry, University of Denver (NCAA); Ryan Stoa, Spartak Moskva (RUS); Jim Slater, Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI); Bobby Butler, Milwaukee Admirals (AHL); Brian Gionta; Brian O’Neill, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL); John McCarthy, San Jose Barracuda (AHL); Broc Little, HC Davos (SUI); Ryan Donato, Harvard University (NCAA); Chad Kolarik, Adler Mannheim (GER); Jordan Greenway, Boston University (NCAA); Garrett Roe, EV Zug (SUI)

Who To Watch: All eyes should be on the contingent of NCAA talent that’s being brought over by Team USA. Greenway, Terry and Donato could show just how ready they are to take the next step in their respective careers with standout performances in Pyeongchang. Opposing teams shouldn’t take their eyes off of Bourque, either. He’s a threat with the puck on his stick. It will be interesting to see how Gionta fares, too, given he’s only practicing with the AHL’s Rochester Americans.

Biggest Strength: The combination of youth and speed could make the American team hard to defend. That’s especially true if the puck-moving defensemen on the roster give Team USA a quick transition game. Playing north-south might just be their calling card at the Olympics.

Biggest Weakness: Again, the goaltending isn’t exactly top-tier. Zapolski is the standout, of course, and has put together a great season in the KHL, but if he struggles at any point in the tournament, Team USA could run into problems. Maxwell, who has been solid in the Czech League, was a late addition and Leggio is only having a so-so season in Germany.

 

RUSSIA

Goaltenders: Vasili Koshechkin, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS); Ilya Sorokin, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Igor Shestyorkin, CSKA Moscow (RUS)

Defencemen: Vladislav Gavrikov, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Dinar Khafizullin, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Bogdan Kiselevich, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Alexei Marchenko, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Nikita Nesterov, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Vyacheslav Voinov, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Artyom Zub, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Andrei Zubarev, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS)

Forwards: Sergei Andronov, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Alexander Barabanov, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Pavel Datsyuk, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Mikhail Grigorenko, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Nikita Gusev, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Ilya Kablukov, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Sergei Kalinin, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Kirill Kaprizov, CSKA Moscow (RUS); Ilya Kovalchuk, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Sergei Mozyakin, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS); Nikolai Prokhorkin, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Vadim Shipachyov, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Sergei Shirokov, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Ivan Telegin, CSKA Moscow (RUS)

Who To Watch: Where do you want to start? This is the most star-studded group in the tournament, not at all hindered by the IOC’s ban on Russian athletes from the Olympics. Sure, they’ll be playing under the OAR — Olympic Athletes from Russia — banner, but this is basically the roster that would have been sent if there were no ban in effect. From Kovalchuk to Datsyuk and Mozyakin to Shipachyov, the forward group is solid, and supplementing the attack with former NHL blueliners such as Marchenko, Nesterov and Voinov gives Russia the best shot at winning this tournament.

Biggest Strength: It’s the offense, plain and simple. No country is going to be able to match the pure firepower Russia possesses and they’re going to be a nightmare for teams looking to win the matchup game. There are so many looks Russia can throw together. And may the hockey gods take mercy on whichever teams take penalties against the Russians.

Biggest Weakness: The top end of the blueline is strong. Really strong. But defense has rarely been Russia’s strong suit and the back end does thin out. That’s really the only area of exposure for the Russians, too. Teams with a design on downing Russia are going to have to prey on the defensive depth, or lack thereof.

 

SWEDEN

Goaltenders: Jhonas Enroth, Dynamo Minsk (BLR/KHL); Viktor Fasth, Vaxjo Lakers (SWE); Magnus Hellberg, Kunlun Red Star (CHN/KHL)

Defensemen: Jonas Ahnelov, Avangard Omsk (RUS); Simon Bertilsson, Brynas Gavle (SWE); Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE); Johan Fransson, Geneve-Servette (SUI); Erik Gustafsson, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (RUS); Patrik Hersley, SKA St Petersburg (RUS); Staffan Kronwall, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (RUS); Mikael Wikstrand, Farjestad Karlstad (SWE)

Forwards: Dick Axelsson, Farjestad Karlstad (SWE); Alexander Bergstrom, Sibir Novisibirsk (RUS); Dennis Everberg, Avangard Omsk (RUS); Carl Klingberg, EV Zug (SUI); Anton Lander, Ak Bars Kazan (RUS); Par Lindholm, Skelleftea AIK (SWE); Joakim Lindstrom, Skelleftea AIK (SWE); Joel Lundqvist, Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE); Oscar Moller, Skelleftea AIK (SWE); Linus Omark, Salavat Yulayev Ufa (RUS); Fredrik Pettersson, ZSC Lions (SUI); Viktor Stalberg, EV Zug (SUI)

Who To Watch: There are a number of experienced or fringe NHLers on the roster, but forget about them. No one is going to tune in to watch Sweden to see Stalberg, Moller, Omark or Lander. Dahlin, though? Well, that’s a different story altogether. The consensus No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft — and it appears the consensus No. 1 by a wide margin — Dahlin is going to be one of the most-watched players in the tournament. He’s already shone at the WJC. Now is his chance to show how ready he is to become a star on an even grander stage.

Biggest Strength: Sweden might have one of the more solid D-corps at the tournament. Dahlin, Hersley and Wikstrand can all produce offense and the blueline appears to have enough depth that there will be no pairing that can truly be picked apart. That could serve Sweden well against a team like Russia.

Biggest Weakness: Offensive depth could be an issue. Players such as Stalberg, Lander and Omark may be able to produce against the best defenders at the tournament, but the bottom half of the roster might have to play a more chip-and-chase, grind-style game in order to be successful. 

 

FINLAND

Goaltenders: Mikko Koskinen, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Juha Metsola, Amur Khabarovsk (RUS); Karri Ramo, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL)

Defensemen: Miro Heiskanen, IFK Helsinki (FIN); Juuso Hietanen, Dynamo Moscow (RUS); Tommi Kivisto, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL); Miika Koivisto, Karpat Oulu (FIN); Lasse Kukkonen, Karpat Oulu (FIN); Mikko Lehtonen, Tappara Tampere (FIN); Sami Lepisto, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL); Atte Ohtamaa, Ak Bars Kazan (RUS)

Forwards: Marko Anttila, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL); Jonas Enlund, Sibir Novosibirsk (RUS); Teemu Hartikainen, Salavat Yulayev Ufa (RUS); Joonas Kemppainen, Salavat Yulayev Ufa (RUS); Petri Kontiola, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (RUS); Jarno Koskiranta, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Julius Junttila, Karpat Oulu (FIN); Jani Lajunen, HC Lugano (SUI); Sakari Manninen, Orebro HK (SWE); Oskar Osala, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS); Jukka Peltola, Tappara Tampere (FIN); Mika Pyorala, SC Bern (SUI); Veli-Matti Savinainen, Yugra Khanty-Mansisk (RUS); Eeli Tolvanen, Jokerit Helsinki (FIN/KHL)

Who To Watch: A pair of young prospects headline the roster for North American fans: Nashville Predators pick Tolvanen and Dallas Stars selection Heiskanen. Tolvanen’s season has been particularly thrilling overseas as he’s become one of the KHL’s most unexpected stars, putting up points at a torrid pace for an 18-year-old. His 17 goals put him into a tie for 14th in the league. Meanwhile, Heiskanen hasn’t looked the least bit out of place as a teenager defending grown men in Finland’s top circuit. He could be a standout for Finland.

Biggest Strength: Finland and goaltending seem to go hand-in-hand, so no surprise that one of the deepest goaltending stables belongs to the Finns. Koskinen has long been a KHL standout while Ramo is having himself a decent year with Jokerit. But Metsola could even slot in and steal the top job with the way he’s performed this season.

Biggest Weakness: Scoring depth will be a problem. Even with Tolvanen in the lineup, there’s no real standout offensive star on the roster. The offense is going to have to come by committee. But if that doesn’t work, there may be no single player who can put this team on his back.

 

CZECH REPUBLIC

Goaltenders: Patrik Bartosak, Vitkovice Ostrava (CZE); Pavel Francouz, Traktor Chelyabinsk (RUS); Dominik Furch, Avangard Omsk (RUS)

Defensemen: Jan Kolar, Amur Khabarovsk (RUS); Michal Jordan, Amur Khabarovsk (RUS); Tomas Kundratek, Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod (RUS); Vojtech Mozik, Vityaz Podolsk (RUS); Jakub Nakladal, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (RUS); Ondrej Nemec, Kometa Brno (CZE); Adam Polasek, KH Sochi (RUS); Ondrej Vitasek, Yugra Khanty-Mansisk (RUS)

Forwards: Michal Birner, Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI); Roman Cervenka, Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI); Martin Erat, Kometa Brno (CZE); Dominik Kubalik, HC Ambri-Piotta (SUI); Milan Gulas, Skoda Plzen (CZE); Roman Horak, Vityaz Podolsk (RUS); Petr Koukal, Mouontfield Hradec Kralove (CZE); Jan Kovar, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (RUS); Tomas Mertl, Skoda Plzen (CZE); Lukas Radil, Spartak Moscow (RUS); Michal Repik, Slovan Bratislava (SVK/KHL); Jiri Sekac, Ak Bars Kazan (RUS); Michal Vondrka, Pirati Chomutov (CZE); Tomas Zohorna, Amur Khabarovsk (RUS)

Who To Watch: The most intriguing skaters on the Czech roster are those who’ve had forays into the NHL in recent years, including Sekac, Horak, Nakladal and Jordan. A good tournament from any of the four could potentially turn into a shot at the NHL again next season and all four will likely be given top-of-the-roster roles in Pyeongchang. It’ll also be fun to see Erat again. Best remembered nowadays for the trade to the Washington Capitals, Erat is a point per game player in the Czech League this season.

Biggest Strength: Francouz likely isn’t a name that will be recognized in your run-of-the-mill North American hockey circles, but fans of the KHL will be incredibly familiar with the netminder. He’s been a stud for Traktor this season, posting a .945 SP and 1.83 GAA across 34 outings. And with Furch and Bartosak in the mix, too, the Czechs could rely most heavily on their goaltending to win games.

Biggest Weakness: There’s no high-end offense. Cervenka and Erat have a history of performing in the big leagues, but, besides that, there’s no reason to expect the Czechs to be able to out-score any of their opponents. A defense-first mentality is going to be what wins them games.

 

SWITZERLAND

Goaltenders: Leonardo Genoni, SC Bern (SUI); Jonas Hiller, EHC Biel (SUI); Tobias Stephan, EV Zug (SUI)

Defensemen: Eric Blum, SC Bern (SUI); Raphael Diaz, EV Zug (SUI); Felicien Du Bois, HC Davos (SUI); Philippe Furrer, HC Lugano (SUI); Patrick Geering, ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI); Romain Loeffel, Geneve-Servette (SUI); Dominik Schlumpf, EV Zug (SUI); Ramon Untersander, SC Bern (SUI)

Forwards: Cody Almond, Geneve-Servette (SUI); Andres Ambuhl, HC Davos (SUI); Simon Bodenmann, SC Bern (SUI); Enzo Corvi, HC Davos (SUI); Gaetan Haas, SC Bern (SUI); Fabrice Herzog, ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI); Denis Hollenstein, EHC Kloten (SUI); Simon Moser, SC Bern (SUI); Vincent Praplan, EHC Kloten (SUI); Thomas Rufenacht, SC Bern (SUI); Reto Schappi, ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI); Tristan Scherwey, SC Bern (SUI); Pius Suter, ZSC Lions Zurich (SUI); Joel Vermin, Lausanne HC (SUI)

Who To Watch: He’s gone undrafted and has spent the past three seasons in the Swiss League, but Suter might be able to turn some heads at the tournament. The 21-year-old isn’t going to stand out visually — he’s easy to miss at 5-foot-9 — but he’s offensively gifted, boasting one of the 10-best points per game rates in the Swiss competition. He and Haas could be the two biggest offensive weapons the Swiss possess at the tournament.

Biggest Strength: As ridiculous as it may sound, familiarity may be the best thing the Swiss have going for them. Many of these players have played with and play against each other frequently, which will allow them to understand each other’s games and could help them gel quicker than the other rosters that have been thrown together.

Biggest Weakness: Have we mentioned a team’s goaltending yet? The Swiss aren’t exactly set at the position and it wouldn’t be too shocking to see each of Genoni, Hiller and Stephan get a start at some point in the tournament.

 

GERMANY

Goaltenders: Danny aus den Birken, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER); Dennis Endras, Adler Mannheim (GER); Timo Pielmeier, ERC Ingolstadt (GER)

Defensemen: Daryl Boyle, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER); Christian Ehrhoff, Kolner Haie (GER); Frank Hordler, Eisbaren Berlin (GER); Bjorn Krupp, Grizzlys Wolfsburg (GER); Jonas Muller, Eisbaren Berlin (GER); Moritz Muller, Kolner Haie (GER); Denis Reul, Adler Mannheim (GER); Yannic Seidenberg, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER)

Forwards: Yasin Ehliz, Nuremberg Ice Tigers (GER); Gerrit Fauser, Grizzlys Wolfsburg (GER); Marcel Goc, Adler Mannheim (GER); Patrick Hager, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER); Dominik Kahun, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER); Marcus Kink, Adler Mannheim (GER); Brooks Macek, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER); Frank Mauer, EHC Red Bull Munich (GER); Marcel Noebels, Eisbaren Berlin (GER); Leonhard Pfoderl, Nuremberg Ice Tigers (GER); Matthias Plachta, Adler Mannheim (GER); Patrick Reimer, Nuremberg Ice Tigers (GER); Felix Schutz, Kolner Haie (GER); David Wolf, Adler Mannheim (GER)

Who To Watch: It’s been a while since Ehrhoff left the NHL, but he’s found his game again on the big surface overseas. Sure, he’s not playing against the type of competition he was in the NHL, but he still possesses the offensive ability that made him a sought after asset early in his career. The way he can bomb pucks from the blueline will make him a great power play quarterback for the Germans, too. Another former NHLer to keep an eye on is Goc. He captained Germany in the qualifier for the Games.

Biggest Strength: Again, familiarity is going to be key for the Germans. Despite the lack of overall talent at the tournament across the board, few are going to choose Germany as a medal contender, but they could sneak up and surprise some teams given that gelling as a unit shouldn’t be difficult.

Biggest Weakness: A lack of top talent is going to hurt Germany, but if coach Marco Sturm gets discipline out of his team, they may be able to eke out a couple of wins. Victories are going to have to come by way dedicated defensive play, however.

 

NORWAY

Goaltenders: Lars Haugen, Farjestad Karlstad (SWE); Henrik Haukeland, Timra IK (SWE); Henrik Holm, Stavanger Oilers (NOR)

Defensemen: Alexander Bonsaksen, Iserlohn Roosters (GER); Stefan Espeland, KAC Klagenfurt (AUT); Jonas Holos, Fribourg-Gotteron (SUI); Johannes Johannesen, Stavanger Oilers (NOR); Erlend Lesund, Mora IK (SWE); Mattias Norstebo, Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE); Henrik Odegaard, Frisk Asker (NOR); Daniel Sorvik, HC Litvinov (CZE)

Forwards: Anders Bastiansen, Frisk Asker (NOR); Kristian Forsberg, Stavanger Oilers (NOR); Ludvig Hoff, University of North Dakota (NCAA); Tommy Kristiansen, Sparta Sarpsborg (NOR); Ken Andre Olimb, Linkoping HC (SWE); Mathis Olimb, Linkoping HC (SWE); Aleksander Reichenberg, Sparta Prague (CZE); Niklas Roest, Sparta Sarpsborg (NOR); Mats Rosseli Olsen, Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE); Martin Roymark, MODO Ornskoldsvik (SWE); Eirik Salsten, Stavanger Oilers (NOR); Patrick Thoresen, SKA St. Petersburg (RUS); Steffen Thoresen, Storhamar Hockey (NOR); Mathias Trettenes, Krefeld Pinguine (GER)

Who To Watch: Thoresen is the best offensive weapon the Norwegians are bringing to the tournament, but the most interesting player on the team is Hoff. A lot was made of Greenway, Terry, Donato and Bergen joining Team USA, but Hoff is another college player making his way to the Games. In 19 games with North Dakota this season, he has two goals and six points. He’s young enough, 21, that a team could take interest if he pieces together a strong performance at the Olympics.

Biggest Strength: All right, so it’s the Allsvenskan and not the SHL, but Haukeland has been brilliant for Timra this season. Across 29 games, he’s sporting a .929 SP and 1.71 GAA. Different level of competition and all that, but if Norway can support their netminder, he could steal a game, maybe even two. Stranger things have happened and this year’s field is ripe for upsets.

Biggest Weakness: Not enough depth up front or on defense. Norway managed only three goals at the past Olympics and without Mats Zuccarello, the lone Norwegian NHLer, there’s little hope they’re going to be able to muster much more.

 

SLOVAKIA

Goaltenders: Jan Laco, Sparta Prague (CZE); Branislav Konrad, HC Olomouc (CZE); Patrik Rybar, Mountfield Hradec Kralove (CZE)

Defensemen: Ivan Baranka, Vitkovice Ostrava (CZE); Michal Cajkovsky, Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (RUS); Peter Ceresnak, Skoda Plzen (CZE); Dominik Granak, Mountfield Hradec Kralove (CZE); Marek Daloga, Sparta Prague (CZE); Juraj Mikus, Sparta Prague (CZE); Tomas Starosta, Dukla Trencin (SVK); Juraj Valach, Pirati Chomutov (CZE)

Forwards: Martin Bakos, Bili Tygri Liberec (CZE); Milos Bubela, HC '05 Banska Bystrica (SVK); Lukas Cingel, Mountfield Hradec Kralove (CZE); Marcel Hascak, Kometa Brno (CZE); Marek Hovorka, HC Kosice (SVK); Michal Kristof, HK Nitra (SVK); Andrej Kudrna, Sparta Prague (CZE); Patrik Lamper, HC '05 Banska Bystrica (SVK); Tomas Marcinko, Ocelari Trinec (CZE); Ladislav Nagy, HC Kosice (SVK); Peter Olvecky, Dukla Trencin (SVK); Tomas Surovy, HC '05 Banska Bystrica (SVK); Matej Paulovic, HK Nitra (SVK); Matus Sukel, MHk 32 Liptovsky Mikulas (SVK)

Who To Watch: Maybe he’s not an up-and-comer or someone who really has a shot at drawing NHL interest, but there’s something appealing about Nagy’s presence on the roster. At 38, he’s far removed from his best days, but he was, for a moment, a legitimate top-six scorer during his heyday in the NHL. He’s not too far removed from putting up big totals, either. Across the past season and a half in Slovakia, Nagy has 49 goals and 94 points in 81 games. He’s got some offense left in him and he could be a fun throwback to watch at the tournament.

Biggest Strength: The Czech league has some talented offensive players, so that Rybar has posted a .935 SP and 1.59 GAA is an indication he can carry the workload for the Slovaks at the Olympics. His play is going to be incredibly important, too, if Slovakia is going to win a game this time around. He’ll have two big tests against Russia and USA.

Biggest Weakness: As with all the clubs expected to finish outside the quarterfinal round, Slovakia doesn’t boast either the obvious defensive skill or clear-cut offensive firepower to really challenge for much more than some upset victories. There may be no roster hurt more by the lack of NHL talent than the Slovaks.

 

SLOVENIA

Goaltenders: Luka Gracnar, Red Bull Salzburg (AUT); Gasper Kroselj, Rodovre Mighty Bulls (DEN); Matija Pintaric, Rouen Dragons (FRA)

Defensemen: Blaz Gregorc, Mountfield Hradec Kralove (CZE); Sabahudin Kovacevic, Energie Karlovy Vary (CZE-2); Ales Kranjc, Eispiraten Crimmitschau (GER-2); Ziga Pavlin, Motor Ceske Budejovice (CZE-2); Matic Podlipnik, Energie Karlovy Vary (CZE-2); Jurij Repe, Rytiri Kladno (CZE-2); Mitja Robar, KAC Klagenfurg (AUT); Luka Vidmar, Fehervar AV19 (HUN)

Forwards: Bostjan Golicic, Grenoble Bruleurs de Loups (FRA); Andrej Hebar, Olimpija Ljubljana (SLV); Ziga Jeglic, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (RUS); Anze Kuralt, Amiens Gothiques (FRA); Jan Mursak, Frolunda Gothenburg (SWE); Ales Music, Fehervar AV19 (HUN); Ken Ograjensek, Graz 99ers (AUT); Ziga Pance, Dornbirner EC (AUT); David Rodman, Grenoble Bruleurs de Loups (FRA); Marcel Rodman, EC Bad Tolz (GER-2); Robert Sabolic, Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod (RUS); Rok Ticar, Sibir Novosibirsk (RUS); Jan Urbas, Fischtown Pinguins Bremerhaven (GER); Miha Verlic, Villacher SV (AUT)

Who To Watch: Without Kopitar, there’s no player who’s all too familiar in NHL circles on the roster. In fact, the lone member of the Slovenian team who may be recognizable to North American fans is Mursak, who was a Detroit Red Wing for 46 games. But forget Mursak and keep an eye instead on Sabolic and Urbas. The latter is a near point per game player in the German League with 37 points in 44 games, with the former putting up 10 goals and 28 points in 50 KHL contests.

Biggest Strength: In no way is this meant as an insult, but the best thing about the Slovenian team might just be that they’ll be underrated and opponents may take them lightly. We saw Slovenia win a game at the 2014 Olympics — a 3-1 victory over Slovakia — and they might have it in them to pull off another win when the two sides meet this time around.

Biggest Weakness: Slovenia’s goaltending might be the worst in the tournament, which is saying something. Statistically, Pintaric has the best numbers, but he’s playing in the French League. Kroselj had an awful time in Austria before ending up in the Danish League, where he’s recovered to put up decent numbers. Meanwhile, Gracnar’s .903 SP in the Austrian League is the best mark in the toughest league among the netminders.

 

SOUTH KOREA

Goaltender: Matt Dalton, Anyang Halla (KOR);  Kye Hoon Park, Sangmu (KOR); Sungje Park, High1 Chuncheon (KOR)

Defensemen: Hyung Gon Cho, Sangmu (KOR); Wonjun Kim, Anyang Halla (KOR); Don Ku Lee, Anyang Halla (KOR); Hyonho Oh, Daemyung Killer Whales (KOR); Alex Plante, Anyang Halla (KOR); Eric Regan, Anyang Halla (KOR); Yeongjun Seo, Daemyung Killer Whales (KOR); Bryan Young, Daemyung Killer Whales (KOR)

Forwards: Jin Hui Ahn, Sangmu (KOR); Minho Cho, Anyang Halla (KOR); Jungwoo Jeon, Sangmu (KOR); Kisung Kim, Anyang Halla (KOR); Sangwook Kim, Anyang Halla (KOR); Won Jung Kim, Anyang Halla (KOR); Young Jun Lee, Daemyung Killer Whales (KOR); Jin Kyu Park, Sangmu (KOR); Woosang Park, Anyang Halla (KOR); Brock Radunske, Anyang Halla (KOR); Sanghoon Shin, Sangmu (KOR); Sangwoo Shin, Anyang Halla (KOR); Michael Swift, High1 Chuncheon (KOR); Mike Testwuide, High1 Chuncheon (KOR)

Who To Watch: Korea recruited North American-born players to head up their roster and it’s the those players who will stand out most. Swift in particular is going to be called upon to provide some sort of offense. With 14 goals and 42 points in 27 games in the Asia League, he’s the runaway leading scorer, while Matt Dalton’s .942 SP and 1.78 GAA make him the league’s clear-cut top goaltender.

Biggest Strength: The North American-born talent has played rather well in the Asia League, and their familiarity with the other major pro leagues gives South Korea at least a few skaters who might be able to hold their own. But when even your best Korean-born players can’t rack up a point per game in the Asia League, you’re in trouble.

Biggest Weakness: You name it. This isn’t going to be pretty. The last time the Olympics took place in a non-traditional hockey nation was 2006 in Italy. The Italians, the 17th ranked nation at the time of the tournament, finished with an 0-3-2 record and a minus-17 goal differential. South Korea ranks 21st in the world.

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Olympic rosters announced: strengths, weaknesses and players to watch