With the first training camps still days away, NHL.com again turned its focus to the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday, Sept. 6. The players invited to the recently completed orientation camp for the Czech Republic include a heavy dose of talent the San Jose Sharks put a lot of faith in when acquiring them.
Two former players on the team were first-round picks in the initial two years of Doug Wilson's tenure as general manager. Milan Michalek went sixth overall in 2003 and Lukas Kaspar 22nd in 2004.
Another invitee was Tomas Hertl, their first-round pick 17th overall in 2012. A lot of hope for improvement in 2013-14 is being placed on the teenager who has yet to play a North American game.
Much of the reason for that is the Sharks need him to replace his countryman, Martin Havlat. The Czech veteran is described as "in line" to play in his third Olympics, but he is currently recovering from surgery and expected to start the season on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
There is no way he plays in Sochi if he is not playing somewhere else first. San Jose will not pay him $5 million to sit if he is healthy enough to play, and the NHL will not let them keep his salary off the books if he can play. They could have him playing, on a rehab assignment or waived.
He is the one player associated with the team that Wilson did not draft in the first round. Instead, the 26th pick of the 1999 draft came to San Jose in exchange for former 2000 second overall pick Dany Heatley, who led the Western Conference finalists in goals scored both seasons.
Closer examination of the list shows most did not live up to potential, and why their recent play suggests they will have little overall impact in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.