Slovakia has yet to medal in hockey at the Olympics since becoming an independent nation in 1993, but the country's fourth-place finish in 2010 was a triumph. The Slovakians, an aging team with a core expected to be on its last Olympic run together, defeated Russia in the preliminary round, upset Sweden in the quarterfinals, and nearly stunned Canada in the semifinals.
A few key players from the 2010 team no are longer in the NHL but could represent Slovakia in Sochi. The 2014 squad likely will be anchored by its established NHL stars: defenseman Zdeno Chara, forwards Marian Hossa and Marian Gaborik, and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
The goaltending looks set; all three NHL.com writers have the same three netminders (Halak, Peter Budaj and Jaroslav Janus). There are some safe bets to fill in around Hossa and Gaborik at forward: Michal Handzus, Tomas Kopecky, Richard Panik and former NHL stars Ziggy Palffy and Miroslav Satan.