For its size, the Czech Republic churns out a good number of NHLers each draft year, however they just don’t have the same firing power as Canada or USA. In terms of size, team Czech Republic sits in the middle of the other teams for weight (197lbs) and height (186.6cm), and even age (27.2).
There’s plenty of experienced players with the likes of Hemsky, Krejci, and Plekanec, who have played alongside each other in previous tournaments, and a few young players who are beginning to come into their own in the league – Hertl and Pastrnak, for example. The issue is a team like Canada is able to leave players like Subban and Letang off the roster without sweating, but the Czech Republic have two players (Jordan and Nakladal) who are currently unrestricted free agents – they have no club! It puts their emotional states into question, perhaps they are worried about their future careers and this will be detrimental to the game – alternatively this may be their opportunity to show their worth in the hopes of being signed by another team.
The team just isn’t a threat to the others. The team is lacking depth or a strong offensive front, and their goaltending is fairly average: Pavelec posted a save percentage of .904 last season, Neuvirth .924, and Mrázek .921. Mrázek is one of the younger players in the team, so if he performs well in the tournament it would be a huge boost for his confidence for the coming season with the Red Wings.
The most famous Czech player, Jaromir Jagr, will no longer represent his country. He deliberated for a week but decided that he simply would not have enough time to prepare for the upcoming season. It’s a shame, but understandable. The NHL schedule is long and hectic, and at 44 years old, he is the oldest man in the league; pushing his body even further when the team likely will not make it very far in the tournament is a little pointless. The Czech team will miss him: The guy is a legend, has heaps and heaps of experience, is wildly talented, and still seems to be in the shape of his life. This past season, he led the Florida Panthers in points with 66 and was second in goals with 27 goals. The torch has to be passed sometime, so here’s hoping somebody can carry on the legacy.