Team Czech Republic hockey preview: Too many veterans

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Jaromir Jagr

Looking up and down the Team Czech Republic roster reveals plenty of notable players. The problem with those names is that the majority of them are on the back end of their careers. Patrik Elias, Jaromir Jagr, Milan Michalek, Petr Nedved, Tomas Kaberle, Michal Rozsival, and Marek Zidlicky have all seen better days. Players such as Jagr and Elias are still playing at a premium level, but the length of the NHL and travel take their tolls.

Forwards

Looking past the veterans, there is a good group of young forwards who will make noise for the Czechs. David Krejci, Ondrej Palat, Martin Hanzal, and Jakub Voracek have all had success in the NHL and are the future of the Team Czech Republic hockey national team. Expect Krejci and Voracek to play a major role offensively with Hanzal centering the checking line.

42-year old Nedved is making his second Winter Olympics appearance with his first being with Hockey Canada (dual citizenship). Many eyebrows were raised when an aging player like Nedved was selected over younger scorers Radim Vrbata and Jiri Hudler.

Martin Erat will replace injured winger Vladimir Sobotka in yet another head-scratching decision.

Defense

Size is an issue, as Radko Gudas is the only defenseman with size and power. Zbynek Michalek and Ladislav Smid offer defensive upside, which the Czechs will need if they plan to play past the early stages of the elimination tournament. Luckily for the Czech Republic, Sweden is the only team in their group that will test their depth on the blueline.

Lukas Krajicek and Kaberle have extensive NHL experience, as well.

Goaltending

Ondrej Pavelec is a huge question mark in net. Sadly for the Czechs, he is their best option as Alexander Salak and Jakub Kovar have zero NHL experience. Salak was a failed prospect in the Florida Panthers system, but never logged senior circuit minutes. As long as Pavelec doesn’t have a meltdown against lowly Latvia or Switzerland, then the Czechs could see themselves get the final first round bye for the single elimination bracket.

Group C opponents

Sweden, Latvia, Switzerland

Projected group finish

2nd– 7 points

Final position

6th

Follow Jeff on Twitter @sckih_ffej for more sports and entertainment ramblings. Jeff also contributes fantasy advice for The Fantasy Fix.

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