When the Czech Republic announced their roster for the Sochi 2014 Olympics there were a couple of stunning selections and by extension surprises of those who were not selected. After all, Jiri Hudler and Radim Vrbata will not be making the flight to Sochi this February, but Petr Nedved — yes the 42 year old who hasn’t played in the NHL since 2007 — will be. To say that the higher powers at Czech may have forgotten that it is now 2014 would be an understatement.
But of all the selections that were questionable, the decision to leave Washington Capitals goaltender Michal Neuvirth off the Czech Olympic Team could have the most far ranging implication on the current NHL season.
By getting snubbed for the Olympic games, Neuvirth loses a very good chance to impress other teams around the NHL and gain the trade from the Capitals that he previously requested. While there were no guarantees that he would be starting in Sochi, it would certainly have seemed likely given the fact that Ondrej Pavelec, Jakub Kovar and Alexandar Salak were the three goalies chosen by the Czech higher ups. Passing any of these three on the depth chart would have been rather easy for Neuvirth and would have provided a chance to show his immense ability against Sweden, Switzerland and Austria in the preliminary round.
Additionally for the Capitals, this snub could very well push their hand to make a trade in a quick fashion. No longer can Adam Oates and George McPhee sit on their hands and wait for the goaltender to show his value in front of the entire world as the Czech Olympic Team made that impossible. Instead of that showcase being provided, now Neuvirth will continue to sit behind Philipp Grubauer and Braden Holtby and will likely lose a bit of value with each passing day.
The final result of this snub could very well be Neuvirth furthering his push to get out of Washington, and truly no one can blame him. He has not played a game for the Capitals level since Nov. 22, and after compiling a career 57-38-12 record with a 2.67 GAA he can justifiably feel the right to start at the NHL level. Currently he just got beat out of a Olympic spot that seemed a sure bet only a few months ago and may feel that getting a bit nasty will be the only way to get out of Washington.
At this point it would be in the Capitals’ best interest to make a move as quickly as possible. They may only be able to get a lower round draft pick today in return, but making a move will alleviate a looming locker room debacle and by extension ensure that things get off to a positive start in the second half of the season.