WINNIPEG — For Lightning rookies Ondrej Palat and Radko Gudas, the best part of being named to the Czech Republic's Olympic team is going together.
"We're good buddies, so it's fun," Gudas said.
Said Palat: "It's a dream."
Tampa Bay could add two more Olympians today when Canada announces its team for next month's Games in Sochi, Russia.
Center Steven Stamkos, rehabbing from a broken right tibia, is expected to be named. Right wing Marty St. Louis is believed on the bubble, though prognosticators in Canada generally believe he will be included.
"It would be a remarkable story," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said of St. Louis' inclusion. "He was put in a tough spot when (Stamkos) went down, but he elevated his game. … His name is in the conversation, and that's a pretty remarkable feat for someone his age."
"I do feel this is my last shot," said St. Louis, 38, who has 17 goals, 38 points in 42 games. "I feel I've given myself the best chance I can, and we'll see where the chips fall. For sure, it's in the front of my mind."
Also, it is believed that goalie Ben Bishop would be the first replacement in case of an injury for the U.S. team.
Palat, 22, a left wing, and Gudas, 23, a defensemen, are the youngest members of the Czech team. Both said a highlight will be playing with one of the oldest, New Jersey's Jaromir Jagr, who turns 42 on Feb. 15 and whom Palat called "a god" in the Czech Republic.
"It's a testament to what they've accomplished in their short pro careers," Cooper said.