On Saturday, I ranked the top 25 Finnish players in the world and because this upcoming season is crucial for Olympic hopefuls, I will review the top 25 players from each Olympic team in the next few weeks. Today’s article will be on Slovakia, ranked number 8 in the IIHF World Rankings. Slovakia has produced its fair share of great players in hockey history. Peter Bondra, Zigmund Palffy, Paul Stastny, and Pavol Demitra were all great players, as well as Stan Mikita, who is a Slovak-born Canadian. Here is a look at the top 25 current Slovakian hockey players in the world:
1. Zdeno Chara
He is 6 ft 9, an NHL captain, and the face of Slovakian hockey at the moment. The Boston Bruin behemoth led the team to 2 Stanley Cup Finals and has won the Norris Trophy. Not only is he the greatest Slovakian player, but also one of the greatest defensemen in the world.
2. Marian Hossa
Hossa is super-clutch and has 5 NHL all-star games under his belt. He continues to put up many points on the scoreboard as well as playing in both sides of the ice.
Gaborik is a star forward in the NHL who is looking to lead the Columbus Blue Jackets into the playoffs this upcoming season.
The St. Louis Blues netminder has won the William Jennings Trophy and is a premier starting goalie in the NHL.
Meszaros has great potential when he is not injured. The Philadelphia Flyers defenceman was voted the team’s outstanding defenceman in 2010-11.
Kopecky is a top-six forward and is in his prime. The 31 year-old has put up good numbers with the Red Wings, Blackhawks, and Panthers throughout his NHL career.
Visnovksy is 38 years old, but is still one of the best offensive defensemen in the NHL. He put up 67 points in 2010-11.
Sekera is a reliable defenceman in the NHL who is entering his prime at age 27. Watch for him to step it up in the coming seasons.
9. Tomas Tatar
He has done everything in the AHL; he won a Calder Cup, playoffs MVP, and has been a top scorer for a couple seasons. He also had a good stint with the Red Wings last season and will likely make the team this upcoming season.
10. Zigmund Palffy
Although he just retired, there is still a slight chance he could play for Team Slovakia on the upcoming Olympics. The 4-time NHL all-star led the Slovak Extraliga in points in 2012-13.
11. Michal Handzus
The Chicago Blackhawks veteran provided great leadership in last season’s Stanley Cup run. He is also still able to put up some points.
12. Miroslav Satan
Although he is 38 years old, Satan is a team captain in the KHL and scored more than a point a game last season.
13. Peter Budaj
The 30 year-old is one of the best backup goalies in the NHL and will be loooking to do a good job backing up Halak in the upcoming Olympics.
14. Richard Panik
Like Tatar, Richard Panik has played great in the minors for the past couple seasons and will be looking to make the NHL this upcoming season.
15. Milan Jurcina
The 30 year-old defenceman will bring his talents to SM-liiga this upcoming season.
16. Stefan Ruzicka
Ruzicka has had a successful KHL career so far, playing for Spartak Moscow and Salavat Yulaev Ufa.
17. Tomas Jurco
The Red Wings prospect has slick hands and has popular YouTube videos.
18. Lubos Bartecko
The KHL veteran is still able to provide point production and leadership.
19. Marcel Hossa
Marian’s younger brother has built a promising career in the KHL and is a good scorer.
20. Ivan Baranka
The solid defenceman is a doing great in the KHL.
21. Martin Cibak
The 33 year-old center provides leadership and a scoring touch.
22. Marko Dano
The Columbus Blue Jackets prospect was a first round pick.
23. Mario Bliznak
The defensive forward was drafted by the Vancouver Canucks.
24. Jaroslav Janus
Janus is a Tampa Bay Lightning goalie prospect drafted in 2008.
25. Milan Kytnar
Kytnar is a young player on the youthful Edmonton Oilers.
Tags: Bondra Chara Demitra Gaborik Halak Hockey Hossa Jaroslav Halak Jurcina Jurco Kopecky Meszaros Michal Handzus Palffy Peter Budaj Richard Panik Slovakia Slovakia Hockey Stan Mikita Stastny Tomas Tatar Visnovsky Zigmund Palffy