The Nashville Predators have supplied the 2010 German Olympic Hockey Team with two of its more experienced players. Veteran Marcel Goc, as well as rookie Alexander Sulzer are two of the seven NHL players to play for Germany in this year’s Winter Games.
Goc was signed by the Predators last summer after playing four seasons with the San Jose Sharks. The 26-year-old center from Calw, Germany, is the highest German draft pick in NHL history being drafted 20th overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft by San Jose.
The Predators have been surprised with Goc’s offensive contributions this season. He was signed originally as a role player for his face-off abilities and strong defensive play for Nashville’s energy or grinder lines. In 52 games prior to the Olympic break, Goc has 11 goals and 10 assists while centering the Preds third line and taking most of the face-offs in the defensive zone.
Goc has represented Germany on the international level almost every season since he was a teenager. He has played on ten different teams including four World Junior squads, four World Championship teams, and one World Cup of Hockey. In 2006 he played on the German National Team at the Olympics in Torino. He played in all five of Germany’s games and scored one goal.
Sulzer has split time with the Predators and their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee this season. He was penciled in as the Pred’s sixth defenseman in the preseason but has been edged out for much of his expected playing time by the surprising emergence of rookie Cody Franson.
With Nashville, Sulzer has played in 19 games and has two assists. During his time in Milwaukee, Sulzer has been much more productive, producing at a point per game pace with four goals and 15 assists in 19 games.
Sulzer was drafted in the third round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft that was held in Nashville. He was in the same Predator draft class as Kevin Klein and Olympians Shea Weber (Canada) and Ryan Suter (USA).
The 25-year-old Sulzer was born in Kaufbeuren, Germany, and has played on five previous German National teams. He has played in the World Championships three times and the World Junior team once. Sulzer was a teammate of Goc’s at the 2006 Olympics. He also played in five games and had one assist.
Germany is a decided underdog in this year’s Olympic Hockey Tournament in Vancouver. They are seeded last in the 12 team field and will struggle to win a game as they are in a round-robin group with Sweden, Finland and Belarus. Regardless of how the German team fares, the Olympic experience will be the same for Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer as is is for any of the other thousands of athletes that come from around the world to compete against the best in the world in their individual sports.