When the rosters for the 2014 Winter Olympics were announced on Tuesday, 10 Detroit Red Wings players were named to the squads for their respective home countries. While Red Wings players will represent Slovakia, Russia, Sweden and the United States, two players who had a chance to be named to the Czech Republic team were passed up.
Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek helped the Czech Republic to a bronze medal at the 2012 World Junior Championships and was named the tournament’s best goaltender. He excelled at every level last season, debuting in the ECHL before jumping to the AHL and even making a few appearances in the NHL. He led the Grand Rapids Griffins to their first-ever Calder Cup championship with a 23-16-2 mark in the regular season and a postseason run that included four shutouts. He is 10-2-1 for the Griffins this season, and has a 1-2-0 record with one shutout and a 1.90 goals-against while with the Red Wings. The Czech Republic is taking Winnipeg Jets netminder Ondrej Pavelec and KHL goalies Alexander Salak and Jakub Kovar instead.
The other Detroit player with a good case to make the team is defenseman Jakub Kindl. Coming off a career-best four-goal, 13-point campaign with the Red Wings, Kindl has struggled a bit this season but would have provided a youthful component that the final roster lacks. The Czech blue line is very heavy on veterans, with two Czech league players and one KHLer joining a handful of NHL defensemen. Tampa Bay Lightning youngster Radko Gudas is the youngest defenseman on the roster.
Both of these players are still looking for more minutes with the Red Wings, and hopefully not being named tot he Olympic roster serves as motivation for them the rest of the season. Kindl will get an extended break in February, while Mrazek could be returned to the Griffins so he can get more playing time.