Winter Olympic hockey teams to feature former Coyotes, NHLers
The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, are set to begin, but missing from the latest edition of the Olympic hockey squads are the stars of the National Hockey League.
This year, the NHL decided that its players would not be allowed to participate in the Olympics. So, the Olympic clubs have put together rosters comprised largely of ex-NHLers who are now playing in other leagues, as well as some minor league players and college players.
Among those are guys who once laced up the skates for the Phoenix or Arizona Coyotes, ranging from players who played one game in the desert to those who were here for a large chunk of their careers.
Here they are, listed below, starting in order of the greatest number of games played with the Coyotes with their years with the team listed in parentheses:
Ladislav Nagy, Slovakia (2001-07): Nagy played 321 games with the Phoenix Coyotes over the span of six seasons (missing a year due to the NHL lockout), scoring 92 goals with 157 assists. He posted three 20-goal seasons in Phoenix and was second on the Coyotes in both goals (24) and points (52) in 2003-04 behind Shane Doan.
After scoring 311 points in 435 career NHL games, the 38-year-old now plays for HC Kosice in the Slovak Extraliga.
Sami Lepisto, Finland (2009-11): Over the course of two seasons in the desert, Lepisto played 117 games and scored 22 points with a +21 plus-minus and averaged 17:32 of ice time as a defenseman. It was in Phoenix that he saw regular time on an NHL roster for the first time in his career, appearing in 66 games in 2009-10 after playing just 14 games in two seasons with the Capitals before that.
Now, the 33-year-old plays for Jokerit, in Helsinki, of the KHL.
Rob Klinkhammer, Canada (2012-14): Klinkhammer played parts of three seasons in Phoenix after signing as a free agent in the summer of 2012. In 113 games, the left wing scored 19 goals with 15 assists and averaged 11:34 of ice time per game. In the 2014-15 season, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Philip Samuelsson.
So far, the 31-year-old has played parts of six seasons in the NHL and currently plays for Ak Bars Kazan in the KHL in Russia.
Martin Erat, Czech Republic (2013-15): Erat was with the Coyotes for the final two of his 13 NHL seasons. After a midseason trade in the 2013-14 season from the Capitals, the right wing went on to skate in 96 games for Phoenix/Arizona, scoring 11 goals with 26 assists.
Erat, 36, now plays with HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Extraliga.
Wojtek Wolski, Canada (2009-11): Despite being born in Poland, the 31-year-old Wolski will take his 451 games of NHL experience and chip in for Team Canada. The left wing played parts of two seasons in Phoenix for a total of 54 games with 12 goals and 22 assists.
Wolski currently plays for Metallurg Magnitogorsk in Russia in the KHL.
Other Coyotes alumni (games played for Coyotes in parentheses): Joakim Lindstrom, Sweden (44); Gilbert Brule, Canada (36); Andrew Ebbett, Canada (33); Mark Arcobello, USA (27); Stefan Elliott, Canada (19); Jiri Sekac, Czech Republic (11); Justin Peters, Canada (3); Christian Thomas, Canada (1)
**Sean Burke, Canada: Burke won’t be participating as a player, but the longtime NHL goaltender is serving as the general manager for Team Canada. Burke was involved with the Coyotes as a player from 1999 to 2004, and later as the team’s goaltending coach.
Other notable participants
Aside from the former members of the Arizona/Phoenix Coyotes, several notable players — including some former NHLers — are slated to participate in the Winter Games:
Rasmus Dahlin, D, SWE: Projected No. 1 overall pick in upcoming NHL Draft … Currently plays for Frolunda HC in the Swedish Hockey League.
Ilya Kovalchuk, F, RUS: Former first overall pick in the 2001 NHL Draft by the Atlanta Thrashers … Has 816 games of NHL experience with 328 goals and 615 points … Won the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2003-04 and has appeared in multiple All-Star games.
James Wisniewski, D, USA: Played 552 games with six different teams in an 11-year NHL career. Had two seasons of 50 or more points.
Christian Ehrhoff, D, GER: Appeared in 789 NHL games over the course of 12 seasons with six teams … Finished in the top 10 of Norris Trophy voting twice … Skated in the 2010-11 Stanley Cup Final for the Vancouver Canucks.
Brian Gionta, F, USA: A 15-year NHL veteran (currently a free agent) with more than 1,000 games of experience … Sits just 11 goals and one assist away from 300 for his career in each category … Could return to the NHL after the Olympics … Will serve as captain for Team USA.
Jonas Hiller, G, SUI: Nine-year NHL veteran who played in 404 games and had a career .914 save percentage … Was 197-140-37 for his career and saw ice time in 33 Stanley Cup Playoff games.