Five former Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will represent their respective countries at next month’s Sochi Olympics.
Veteran NHL defensemen Brooks Orpik and Michal Rozsival will be joined on Olympic blue lines by Pittsburgh rookie Olli Maatta. Forwards Tomas Surovy and Patrick Thoresen round out the contingent of former WBS Penguins.
Surovy, who has played the past four seasons in the KHL, including this year with Dynamo Minsk, will play for Slovakia. A fourth round pick of the Penguins in 2001, he played for WBS from 2001-06. He is No. 2 all-time among Penguins in goals (89) and points (177), and seventh in assists (88). He played in 239 AHL games, as well as 126 NHL games with Pittsburgh (27 goals, 32 assists). He was part of the Calder Cup final run with the WBS Penguins in 2004.
Orpik posted six goals and 32 assists in 152 games with Wilkes-Barre from 2001-04, and was a member of the 2004 Calder Cup finalist squad. A member of the United States team, he spent his entire pro career in the Penguins organization since being drafted 18th overall in 2000. Orpik has played 667 games with Pittsburgh.
Rozsival played 30 games in Wilkes-Barre, with 29 coming in the 2000-01 season. The Czech Republic native had eight goals and eight assists during that season and post three goals and 19 assists in 21 playoff games as the Penguins reached the Calder Cup final. The fourth round pick in 1996 has gone on to score 65 NHL goals in 807 games for Pittsburgh, the N.Y. Rangers, Phoenix and his current team, Chicago.
Maatta will play on the blue line for Finland. Selected No. 22 overall in 2012, he played in three playoff games last season with the WBS Penguins, posting four shots and a minus-2 rating. This season in Pittsburgh, he has three goals and 10 assists in 43 games.
Thoresen, who is currently playing in the KHL for SKA St. Petersburg, will skate for Norway. He played five games during the 2006-07 season in Wilkes-Barre, netting a goal and five assists. He played 106 NHL games with Edmonton and Philadelphia, and has spent the past five seasons in the KHL.
Nine players who were in the AHL this season will go to Sochi. Syracuse goalie Kristers Gudlevskis (7-5-1, 2.82, .902), who beat the Penguins on Nov. 6 in a shootout, could be the starter for Latvia. Utica defenseman Yannick Weber, in the lineup on Dec. 14 when the Penguins downed the Comets 1-0, will play for Switzerland.
Rounding out the current season AHLers, some of whom are now in the NHL, are Abbotsford goalie Reto Berra for Switzerland; Grand Rapids forward Tomas Jurco for Slovakia; Oklahoma City defenseman Martin Marincin for Slovakia; Milwaukee forward Simon Moser for Switzerland; Chicago defenseman Henrik Odegaard for Norway; Adirondack forward Michael Raffl for Austria; and Norfolk defenseman Sami Vatanen for Finland.