The Czech Republic named their replacements for the injured Radko Gudas and Tomas Hertl at the World Cup of Hockey on Sunday morning. Subbing in for Gudas on the blueline is former NHL’er Tomas Kundratek while taking Hertl’s spot up front is former St. Louis draft pick Michal Birner.
Kundratek spent last season in the KHL, his first season back overseas after spending seven years in North America in the system for the Rangers and Capitals. He has 30 games of NHL experience, all with Washington.
Birner was picked in the 4th round back in 2004 but hasn’t played in the NHL. He had 39 points in 51 games in the Czech Extraliga last year but has signed on to play in the KHL for 2016-17.
A notable omission from the Czech roster is Dallas winger Jiri Hudler. Czech GM Martin Rucinsky told media (including TV NOVA Sports’ Roman Jedlicka) that they did call and leave messages but Hudler never responded. Later on, Hudler’s agent, former NHL defender Petr Svoboda, informed Rucinsky that Hudler did not want to suit up. As he is one of the highest scoring Czech-born NHL’ers in recent years (only Jakub Voracek and Jaromir Jagr have more points in the last three seasons), he would have given them a much needed scoring boost.
More from around the international hockey world:
- The Olympic qualifying tournaments concluded today with the final three teams gaining entry into the 2018 games which are being held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Germany, Norway, and Slovenia all won their brackets to earn those final spots. As a result, the final groups for the Olympic tournament have now been set and are as follows:
- Group A: Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland, South Korea
- Group B: United States, Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia
- Group C: Sweden, Finland, Germany, Norway
- While we now know which countries will be participating, the fate of the NHL’ers from those nations remains in doubt. Commissioner Gary Bettman noted two weeks ago that a decision on NHL participation has not yet been made; a final decision is expected in December or January.