This Olympics proved that certain players possess the talent to play against both top notch talent and on the smaller ice surface. Of course, we cannot predict how any player will perform once they return to their NHL teams, but lets look at some players who could can ride their added confidence level into heightened performance. Some of these players may have questionable work ethic for their contracted teams which could sway the outcome of their games on a lesser stage but the stretch drive should be similar to representing one’s country.
Sergei Kostitsyn led Team Belarus in points with two goals and three assists over four games. Upon his return to the Montreal Canadiens, coach Jacques Martin slotted him on the top line alongside leading scorer Tomas Plekanec and brother Andrei Kostitsyn. Extended time on the first unit with two productive players should mean immediate dividends for fantasy owners of either Kostitsyn brother. With the Canadiens holding on to a playoff berth by a thread, look for this top line to make or break their outcome until Michael Cammalleri returns.
Probably the most intriguing option would be Pavol Demitra, who led all Olympic players with ten points. In his brief time with the Vancouver Canucks he played mostly third line minutes but that should change. As other pundits pointed out, Mikael Samuelsson or Mason Raymond could see a drop in their ice time should the team need help scoring.
Another intriguing option regarding Demitra would be the often rumored move to the New York Rangers. My sources claim numerous times fellow Slovak winger Marian Gaborik requested trading for his countryman before the Olympics. Should he move to the big city, his ice time and value will skyrocket.
Brian Rafalski played a pivotol role in his team’s success, leading all defenseman in points and tying for the Team USA lead in points. The Detroit Red Wings really could use that added offense from the blue line as they sit 10th in the Western Conference. Most analysts expected the Wings to make the playoffs and I would not in any way write them off just yet. Should the team take off expect Rafalski in the middle of the production.
The Minnesota Wild continue keeping Marek Zidlicky on their top defensive pairing. Coming off a strong Olympics, the 33-year-old actually led the entire Team Czech Republic in points. Brent Burns and Cam Barker represent the future of the top pairing but expect Zidlicky to remain the top man in Minnesota unless he gets traded. If traded to a contender, we know exactly how good this offensive defenseman can be in the right setting.
Both Olli Jokinen and Niklas Hagman played a strong tourney for Team Finland on the second and third lines. Considering both players actually play on their teams second line, their production should remains stagnantly consistent. Jokinen will continue enjoying a comeback of sorts in New York while Hagman will provide that secondary scoring the Flames so desperately crave.
Although Marcel Goc enjoyed a mildly productive tournament, his value to the Nashville Predators likely climaxed. The veteran center figures to play somewhere between the second and fourth line but likely loses playing time to Colin Wilson down the stretch. His lack of footspeed also greatly stood out during the tournament as Team Germany as a whole drowned relatively quickly.
Other factors certainly will play a role on whether these players improve their season’s totals over the least quarter of the season, but these are some top notch names to watch for. These players showed the talent to compete at a higher level against heightened competition and therefore should not be written off in any sense.