It is every hockey player's dream to play for their respective nation in the Olympics. Friday, it became official that NHLers would be allowed to play in the twenty-second running of the Olympic Winter Games held in Sochi, Russia. The men's tournament will last from February 12-23.
For the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, six Nashville Predators represented their homeland -- Martin Erat (Czech Republic), Marcel Goc (Germany), Alexander Sulzer (Germany), Ryan Suter (USA) and Shea Weber (Canada).
However, the number of Predators playing in the Olympics in 2014 is expected to go down one or two players. Currently, there are only five who are legitimate options by their native land.
Joonas Jarvinen, Admirals defenseman, and Pekka Rinne are considered candidates for a spot on Team Finland's roster. Rinne is a definite shoe-in and is likely to be their number one guy throughout the tournament, but Jarvinen will still have to prove himself. If the selection commitee believes that AHL experience is greater than KHL, he will be an extra or sixth defenseman.
Rinne and Jarvinen weren't selected to participate in the 2010 Games, but both have played ten games for Finland in the World Championships.
Now to the neighboring country of Sweden, Patric Hornqvist is the only Swedish Predator who was invited to their Pre-Olympic meeting in Stockholm, Sweden August 12-14. Hornqvist has represented Tre Kronor on all levels from U-17 up to the Olympics. In Vancouver, he scored one goal in four games.
Fellow Swedish forwards Filip Forsberg and Viktor Stalberg are not out of the question, but seems to be unlikely since they were uninvited to the meetings. At 18, Forsberg has already played in 68 international games. Stalberg has played for Sweden international twelve times as an adult and three times in the U20 World Juniors.
Roman Josi will look to lead Switzerland to at least a bronze medal in ice hockey. After an impressive showing in the 2013 World Championships winning MVP, Josi will look to continue his international success. It is without question he will be playing for the Swiss in Sochi as a top line defenseman paired with Mark Streit.
After winning gold in Vancouver, Shea Weber seeks another one in Russia this time. It is clear that Canada will be the favorites heading into Sochi due to their recent success and weak group. In 2010, it was Weber's shot who went through the net, thus fully showing his true shooting ability. Weber totaled six points (2g, 4a) in seven games for the Canadians.
Since Teemu Laakso and Alexander Radulov are technically still part of the Predators' organization -- even though I didn't count them -- they still count. Laakso is a contendor for Finland's defense, while Radulov will definitely be a top six forward for Russia.
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(Photo by: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)