We’re nearing the start of the men’s hockey competition in Sochi next week and we still have a couple of rosters left to go before we drop the puck on what promises to be a great Olympic tournament. Today we’ll feature Slovakia and then I’ll have a best of the rest including teams such as Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Slovenia and Latvia. If you missed any of the rosters, just click on the links for Team USA, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic.
If you have any questions, concerns or comments, please leave them below or you can tweet me @DanMountSports.
Team Slovakia Roster
Milan Bartovič (Slovan Bratislava –KHL); Marián Gáborík (Columbus Blue Jackets); Michal Handzuš (Chicago Blackhawks); Marcel Hossa (Dinamo Riga – KHL); Marián Hossa (Chicago Blackhawks); Tomáš Jurčo (Detroit Red Wings); Tomáš Kopecký (Florida Panthers); Tomáš Marcinko (HC Košice); Michel Miklík (Slovan Bratislava –KHL); Peter Ölvecký (Slovan Bratislava –KHL); Richard Pánik (Syracuse Crunch – AHL); Tomáš Surový (Dinamo Minsk- KHL); Tomáš Tatar (Detroit Red Wings); Tomáš Záborský (Salavat Yulaev Ufa – KHL)
Breakdown: Both Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik are proven goal scorers. Hossa is one of the best in the world when he’s healthy and put up 108 points in the two seasons before this year. Gaborik can also be solid, but he needs to get over the injury bug that has bit him over the span of his career. After those two scorers, the pickings get a little slim and inexperienced. Tomáš Kopecký will probably have to center that top line that will most likely have the elder Hossa (brother Marcel is also on the team) and Gaborik (if he's ready to go.) Younger players such as Richard Panik and Tomas Tatar are going to have to step up and chip in with some goals.
Ivan Baranka (Avangard Omsk – KHL); Zdeno Chara (Boston Bruins); Dominik Graňák (Dynamo Moscow – KHL); Martin Marinčin (Edmonton Oilers); Andrej Meszároš (Philadelphia Flyers); Andrej Sekera (Carolina Hurricanes); Michal Sersen (Slovan Bratislava –KHL); Ľubomír Višňovský (New York Islanders)
Breakdown: This is the strength of this team as their captain Zdeno Chara can eat up 35 minutes of ice time per game. (It's unheard of in these star-laden tournaments that anyone really dominates in ice time with all of the talented players the teams have.) Chara is big, physical and always seems to come up with timely goals and hits. Meszaros is a very solid defensemen and Sekera adds some depth. The one surprising addition to the roster is that of Visnovsky. He’s 37 and coming off some injuries. If Visnovsky is healthy, he can thrive on the larger ice surface that allows more room for playmaking.
Jaroslav Halak (St. Louis Blues); Peter Budaj (Montreal Canadiens); Ján Laco (Donbass Donetsk - KHL)
Breakdown: Halak and the other St. Louis goalie Brian Elliot have struggled for stretches of the season, but the Slovaks believe in Halak. He has the capability of being a shutdown goalie when he is on. Budaj has logged some more minutes as of late due to the recent struggles of Carey Price. I don’t know much about because he plays in Russia, but I assume Halak starts and Budaj will back him up.
Final analysis: Some people feel the Slovaks will be a tough out in this tournament. However, they are slotted in the tough Group A with the host Russians and the tough United States. Slovenia is also in the group with them, which should be a winnable game for them. If Slovakia can steal a point (no ties anymore in Olympic hockey) or even a win against either Russia or the U.S., then they could be trouble in the latter stages of the elimination round. Slovakia did finish fourth at the 2010 tournament in Vancouver after falling to Finland in the bronze medal game. (which was their best finish since breaking away from Czechoslovakia.) I think it will be a tall order to repeat that feat in this really deep Olympic tournament. I think 5th-7th place is realistic for this club.
Dan Mount is an NHL writer for TJRSports.com. He is based out Watertown, NY.