Martin Erat added to Czech Republic's roster for Olympics

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

Martin Erat is headed to the Olympics as an injury replacement. (USATSI)
Martin Erat is headed to the Olympics as an injury replacement. (USATSI)

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The Czech Republic has replaced the injured Vladimir Sobotka with Washington Capitals forward Martin Erat. Sobotka was placed on injured reserve by the Blues last week and is expected to need four weeks to recover. Erat, meanwhile, is struggling through his first full season with the Capitals, which has included zero goals and multiple demands to be traded.

This is another curious decision by the Czech Republic, which built a roster that excluded some of the top Czech NHL players like Jiri Hudler and Radim Vrbata. It's especially curious that they'll replace Sobotka, a center, with a winger, while Hudler in particular could have played center.

The 32-year-old Erat has 21 assists this season, while Hudler has 42 points including 14 goals. It's not all about points, but with the Czechs bringing a rather aged roster to the Winter Games, it's hard to understand why they'd pass up Hudler's scoring this year.

Sobotka leaves a hole that wasn't going to be easily filled as he likely could have been the team's best checking-line center. Now they have to hope Erat can provide some offensive depth, while playing adequate defensive as well in a lower-lineup role most likely.

Erat is a two-time Olympian, having played for the Czech Republic in 2006 and 2010 and has appeared numerous times at the IIHF World Championship.

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