Prospect Ramblings: Russia names WJC names (Dec. 3)

Mark Allan


A former 22nd overall draft pick of the Washington Capitals, Ilya Samsonov is one of the players Russia has named to its preliminary World Junior Championship roster.



Russia has joined Canada in naming its preliminary roster for the looming World Junior Championship tournament in Quebec.

Goalies: Anton Krasotkin, Ilya Samsonov, Vladislav Sukhachyov.

Defensemen: Artyom Chmykhov, Grigoriy Dronov, Kamil Fazylzyanov, Vadim Kudako, Rustan Petrishchev, Yegor Rykov, Mikhail Sergachyov, Mikhail Sidorov, Artyom Volkov, Yegor Voronkov, Mikhail Yepishin, Sergey Zborovskiy.

Forwards: Denis Alexeyev, Artyom Artyomov, Kirill Betyayev, Denis Guryanov, Roman Ivashov, Kirill Kaprizov, Pavel Karnaukhov, Nikita Korostelev, Mikhail Kotlyarevskiy, Danila Kvartalnov, Nikita Li, Mikhail Maltsev, Alexandr Polunin, German Rubtsov, Yakov Trenin, Artur Tyanulin, Kirill Urakov, Mikhail Vorobyov, Danil Yurtaikin.

Samsonov was drafted 22nd overall in 2015 by the Washington Capitals and is an outstanding prospect. A teen playing against men, he has a 2.14 GAA and .934 save percentage in 18 games so far in his sophomore season for Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.

On the blueline, you probably know Sergachyov better as Mikhail Sergachev, a ninth-overall selection of the Montreal Canadiens in this year’s entry draft. After three pointless trial-balloon games for the Canadiens, the dominating 6-3 two-way defender has seven assists in 11 games for the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.

Up front, Rubtsov is an effective jack-of-all-trades center taken 22nd overall by Philadelphia this year. After 13 scoreless games with the KHL’s Vityaz Podolsk, he has 15 points in as many games for Russkie Vityazi Chekhov of the MHL, a Eurasian major-junior league.

Drafted 12th overall by Dallas in 2015, Guryanov combines size (6-3, 201) with speed and skillful puckhandling. In 19 games with the AHL’s Texas Stars, the lanky winger has three goals and six assists.

C/LW Trenin, taken 55th overall in 2015 by Nashville, is on a point-per-game pace after 21 games in his third campaign with the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques. He exceeded a point per game in his previous two Quebec junior seasons.

For Canada’s lineup, see Kevin Leblanc’s Ramblings column from Wednesday.

The other countries in the annual tournament – defending champion Finland, USA, Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Denmark, Switzerland and Latvia – will announce their preliminary rosters soon. Teams will play 13 pre-tournament exhibition games from Dec. 12 to 23 in Quebec and Ontario. The actual tournament runs from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

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Nolan Patrick demonstrates why he's still expected to be drafted first in the 2017 NHL entry draft:




In spite of missing a large part of Brandon’s WHL schedule due to injury, center Nolan Patrick remains atop Craig Button’s latest NHL 2017 draft rankings. Before sports hernia surgery, Patrick registered nine points in six games. The 6-3 Winnipeg native hopes to play for Canada in the WJC.

Button’s current top five is rounded out (in descending order) by defenseman Timothy Liljegren of Rögle BK in the Swedish Hockey League, Finnish USHL winger Eeli Tolvanen, OHL centre Gabe Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires and Swiss-born Halifax centre Nico Hischier.

Barring any subsequent trades of draft picks and/or improvement in the standings, the Coyotes, Avalanche, Golden Knights, Canucks and Islanders currently stand to have the best odds in the pre-draft lottery.

After an expansion draft, Las Vegas will get the same odds of winning the entry draft lottery as if it finished with the third-fewest points this season. The Knights will draft no lower than sixth in the opening round and will choose third in subsequent rounds.

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In what must have seemed like a no-brainer, being the only NHL team with two Stanley Cup champion netminders on the roster, is turning out to be a no-brainer for the Penguins alright.

To the dismay of GM Jim Rutherford, both goalies have struggled, especially veteran Marc-Andre Fleury. In 16 games, the nominal starter has a 7-5 record, but his bloated 3.29 GAA and sub-par .904 save percentage are his worst numbers since 2005-06, his first full NHL season.

Wunderkind Matt Murray, who kept Fleury on the end of the bench as he backstopped the Pens to the 2016 Cup, lost the starter’s job to Fleury by default when he missed the beginning of the season while recovering from a broken finger suffered in the World Cup.

Admittedly, his stats are strong with a 7-2 record, 2.02 GAA and .929 save percentage, but he surrendered the go-ahead goal to Anders Lee on Nov. 30 with 27 seconds on the clock as Pittsburgh folded late in a frustrating 5-3 loss to the lowly Islanders. In his defense, a down-and-out Murray earlier robbed a disheartened John Tavares with an uplifted glove hand that prevented a sure goal.


John Tavares cannot believe Matt Murray stole a goal from him:




Fleury, who won 6-2 over Dallas the next night, gets the start today against the Islanders and another chance to show head coach Mike Sullivan he can be trusted with the No. 1 job, perhaps relegating Murray to backup.

Fleury increasingly looks like he needs to play a lot to be successful. Murray, while undeniably an outstanding prospect as a starter, looks like he’s capable of playing well with a limited workload.

Rutherford, voted last season’s NHL executive of the year, is rumored to be exploring the possibility of trading one of his top-two goalies sooner rather than later, although it’s going to be virtually impossible to find a trade partner at this time of the season.

The GM likely prefers to keep the more-affordable, younger Murray. His pro body of work, while spectacular, is skimpy compared to Fleury’s established track record, however.

Murray, whose recently extended contract carries a $3.75-million cap hit for each of the next three seasons, would be easier to trade than Fleury and his $5.75-million hit for the following two seasons.

Murray will almost certainly be a starting goalie somewhere by next season. Except in the extremely unlikely event Rutherford allows him to be taken by Vegas in the expansion draft, he should be in a better situation than he is now.

Once Fleury or Murray are gone, that could clear the way for Tristan Jarry to become Pittsburgh's backup, although the organization might decide he needs more AHL seasoning. He's 8-4-1 with a 1.99 GAA and .926 save percentage so far this season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Mark Allan


Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Topi Rönni 6.5 6.5
Martin Pospisil 5.0 8.5
Hunter Brzustewicz 7.5 8.5
Marshall Rifai 4.0 6.0
Oskari Salminen 3.0 3.0
Arnaud Durandeau 5.5 4.0
Tyce Thompson 5.5 5.5
Beck Malenstyn 2.5 5.5
Hendrix Lapierre 7.5 9.0
Ivan Miroshnichenko 8.5 9.0