Most experts agree that if the Czech Republic is going to go anywhere in this tournament, they will need a big contribution from forward Jakub Vrána. After playing two seasons in Linköping, Sweden, he was taken in the first round of this year´s KHL draft by Sibir Novosibirsk.
In the KHL draft, you were the top Czech taken at no. 23 by Novosibirsk. Were you surprised?
I was expecting to be drafted, but I would have preferred Lev Praha.
You have played two seasons in Linköping, Sweden, where you have even played for the senior team a few games in the Elitserien, the highest Swedish league. How happy you are in Sweden? Will you stay with the same team next season?
I´m happy and I´m staying there. I signed a new professional contract for three years.
What do you think about playing in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup? Do the younger players recognize Ivan Hlinka as an icon of Czech hockey?
I´m going there to capitalize on the experience and help the team play as well as possible. Mr. Hlinka was a great player and a great coach--he´s a legend of Czech hockey.
Last year you missed the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup due to injury. What was it? Do you regret that you were unable to play?
I had problems with my groin and of course I was sorry that I was unable to play in the tournament.
In this year´s tournament, you are expected to be one of the leaders of this team offensively. Do you think you can accomplish all that is expected of you?
I´ll do everything in my power. That´s all I can say.
The Czech Republic is playing in Group A, where you face off against Canada, Sweden and Switzerland. Sweden finished 3rd last year and the Canadians will try to defend their title. We can therefore say that you have a tough group. What do you think of your opponents?
All the teams are very good. I don´t think it matters who we´re grouped with. If we are to succeed, we have to beat anyone.
Two of your teammates from Linköping are on the Swedish team, defenceman Gustav Forlsing and forward Henrik Törnqvist. Are you looking forward to playing against them? Have you had a chance to speak to them here yet?
Of course we got together before the tournament and I think the game against them will be fun. I look forward to it.
Finally, what do you hope to accomplish at this tournament?
I would really like to win it!