Slovakia's snub gives Satan more options for Europe's roster

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Proud as he is to be Slovakian, Team Europe general manager Miroslav Satan understands he needs to put nationality aside in selecting a 23-player World Cup of Hockey roster.

At the same time, the two-time Olympian also knows he won't satisfy every nation when it comes to picking from a pool of 50-plus candidates hailing from a variety of nations - from Denmark to Slovenia, and France to Belarus.

''It's going to be hard to please everybody because we have so many countries and so many players,'' Satan said by phone last week. ''Definitely you can't take them all. But from Day 1, the main philosophy for our team would be not to look at nationalities and passports, but look at the quality, and pick the best team possible.''

The first step comes March 2, when the eight teams unveil 16-player lineups. The final seven roster spots are due on June 1 for the tournament that opens in Toronto in September.

Canada, the United States, the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden will feature national teams. The other two will be a North American team of players 23 years and younger, and Satan's squad made up of players whose European countries aren't represented.

The decision to exclude Slovakia was initially regarded as a snub. The country features 10 current NHLers, including Boston's Zdeno Chara, Chicago's Marian Hossa and Detroit's Tomas Tatar. And Slovakia has been competitive on the international stage by finishing fourth in three of the past five Winter Games, including 2002, when Satan was team captain.

''There were some countries who were maybe a little disappointed they didn't have their own team,'' said Satan, who split 14 NHL seasons between five teams and won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2009. ''But as the process goes on, I think everybody understands that the team we will be able to put together ... will be a very highly competitive team.''

Satan has the talent and depth to select a balanced roster of veterans and youth.

German-born candidates include Edmonton's Leon Draisaitl and Arizona's Tobias Rieder. The Denmark contingent could include Arizona's Mikkel Boedker and Vancouver's Jannik Hansen. And don't forget Slovenian-born Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar.

On defense, there's the Swiss pair of Nashville's Roman Josi and Philadelphia's Mark Streit.

The goalie pool includes the Islanders' Jaroslav Halak (Slovakia), Calgary's Jonas Hiller (Switzerland) and Tampa Bay minor-leaguer Kristers Gudlevskis, who starred for Latvia at the 2014 Sochi Games.

On offense, Kopitar leads the group this season in ranking 17th in the NHL with 51 points, and Hansen is 47th with 19 goals.

At 41, Satan is enjoying his new role, which came two years after he completed his final season playing in Europe. He is living on Long Island, where he splits time focusing between Team Europe duties and his hockey-playing son, Miroslav Jr.

''This opportunity came and it's a very good experience for me,'' Satan said, when asked about his future. ''I'm not looking past September.''


Before World Cup roster selections, the NHL must first get through the trading deadline on Monday.

Last year, there were 24 deals involving 43 players, marking the 14th consecutive trading deadline day in which at least 30 players changed teams. Dating to 1980, the busiest trading deadline day occurred March 3, 2010, when 31 deals involving 55 players were completed with none, however, involving Chicago, which went on to win the Stanley Cup.

One of the most impactful deals made on deadline day since 2006 occurred two years ago, when the eventual champion Kings acquired Marian Gaborik from Columbus for forward Matt Frattin and two draft picks. Gaborik had 14 goals and eight assists in 26 playoff games.


Blues coach Ken Hitchcock refuses to use the team's ever-growing list of injuries as an excuse while St. Louis continues to contend for the Central Division title.

''All of our top guys have gone missing, and we've been able to maintain a competitive level,'' Hitchcock said Monday, a day after it was announced that top-line forward Alexander Steen would miss at least a month. ''This is just another challenge.''

The next challenge came that night when goalie Brian Elliott sustained a lower-body injury in a 6-3 loss to San Jose. Fortunately, Jake Allen was able to take over a day after he was activated from injured reserve.

Forwards David Backes, Jori Lehtera and Troy Brouwer are the only Blues to appear in all 62 games this season.


Calgary at Anaheim. The Flames have lost 22 straight at Anaheim following a 5-2 loss Sunday. It's the NHL's second-longest drought, one short of matching Pittsburgh's 23-game losing streak at Philadelphia in the 1980s.


Flyers rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere had his 15-game point streak snapped in a 3-1 loss at Carolina on Tuesday night. He finished three short of matching the franchise record shared by Eric Lindros and Bob Clarke.

LEADERS (Through games Monday)

Points, Patrick Kane (Chicago), 84; Goals, Alex Ovechkin (Washington) 39; Wins, Braden Holtby (Washington) 38; Game-deciding shootout goals, Aleksander Barkov (Florida) and Ryan Spooner (Boston) 3.


Edmonton travels to Buffalo on Tuesday in the first meeting between Oilers center Connor McDavid and Sabres center Jack Eichel, the top-two picks in last year's draft.