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Svatos, Budaj Invited to Slovakia Olympic Camp

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Marek Svatos and Peter Budaj have been invited to Slovakia's Olympic camp on August 4th. Both players played for Slovakia in the 2006 Olympics.

With Joe Sakic's retirement and Ryan Smyth's trade to Los Angeles, this brings the number of confirmed Avalanche Olympic candidates to 3 (Paul Stastny was invited to the US Olympic camp). Figure on adding Ruslan Salei (Belarussia) and Milan Hejduk (Czech Republic) to bring the total to 5.

That's a far cry from the 11 players we sent to Turin, Italy in 2006. While that is an indication that the team's talent level has dropped in the last few years, it also shows that the roster has become a bit less "international" llately. In 2006, we had Olympians from Canada (Rob Blake, Sakic), the Czech Republic (Hejduk), Finland (Ossi Vaananen, Antti Laaksonen), Kazakhstan (Vitaly Kolesnik), Latvia (Karlis Skrastins), Slovaki (Budaj, Svatos), Switzerland (David Aebischer) and the US (John-Michael Liles). Those 2006 Avalanche had 9 different nationalities represented and included 9 European-born players. The 2009 roster currently has 6 different nationalities represented (Canada, US, Poland, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Belarussia) and just 6 Europeans (Hejduk, Svatos, Budaj, Salei, Wolski and David Koci). And yes, counting Canadian-raised Wolski as a European is a bit of a stretch.

None of that should be surprising, of course. The Avalanche have been predominantly drafting North Americans since the Jonas Johansson bust of 2002. Still, I miss some of those old diverse rosters like the one from 2006. It may be a while before we see something like that again.