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Oilers 2010 Olympics Hockey Preview

Lubomir Visnovsky will lead the Slovaks into Vancouver in search of an Olympic medal.
Lubomir Visnovsky will lead the Slovaks into Vancouver in search of an Olympic medal.

The Olympics don't bring a halt to the NHL season until late February, but all 30 SBNation NHL team sites are trying their luck at predicting which NHL players will wind up playing for their respective homelands. Vancouver 2010 will feature star power and international rivalries and the dominant story line will be Team Canada's march for gold. Here, then, are your Edmonton Oilers that have a shot at Olympic gold.

Pack Your Bags

Lubomir Visnovsky will be on the first pairing for Slovakia, along with Zdeno Chara. They are a highly skilled bunch and have a goalie that could knock a major power from the tourney. Visnovsky will run the power play and use his skating ability and underrated agility to launch the Slovakian attack. They open with the Czechs, the boys that bounced Slovakia last time around.

Patrick O'Sullivan will likely draw in on the third line alongside Scott Gomez and Bobby Ryan. O'Sullivan has a game that will do well on the big sheet, now, if he could only score goals.

Nearly A Lock

Nikolai Khabibulin is all but guaranteed to be on Team Russia, as long as he is healthy. He'll likely be the third goaltender. However, he's got a bad back now and could lose his spot to Semyon Varlamov.

Denis Grebeshkov is in the same boat as Khabibulin - he's guaranteed to be a top four defenseman as long as he's healthy. Like all of Edmonton's key players he's dinged up after taking a nasty and dirty knee-on-knee hit from Derek Roy of the Sabres.

In A Battle

Tom Gilbert was at the American Olympic Camp, but he's not had a headline year and there is a contingent of about six guys fighting for the last three spots. I don't think that Gilbert beats out Bogosian, Hainsey, the Johnsons and Whitney, plus Orpik and Ballard.

Dustin Penner has had an outstanding year thus far but is in amongst a glut of talent and working aginst preconceptions. Still, the man that signed him to an offer sheet is running Hockey Canada, and if anyone could get Penner on the team, it's Kevin Lowe.

Work To Do

Ladislav Smid has had a fine season to this point, but is unproven and likely in the low teens on the Czech defensive depth chart.

Moving Down

Ales Hemsky will undergo surgery on his shoulder to repair a torn Labrum and while he would have been in the Czech Republic's top six, his roster spot will now go to someone like Michael Frolik.