2017 World Junior Championship catch up for KHL players
By now you should know Russia won bronze at the IIHF World Junior Championship over Sweden, and that was thanks to the strong performance of four key players listen below. They really did not have the best squad but battled through it none the less.
The Four Key Players:
Kirill Kaprizov (Min, 5th round pick, 2016) – Kaprizov tied for the lead in the world junior championship with 12 points in seven games. The Russians had one dangerous line in the tournament and it was anchored by Kaprizov. By now you should know about Kaprizov in keeper leagues and if not get him as soon as possible or it’ll be too late (last warning I swear). Currently his is six points back of Kuznetsov’s U20 record for KHL scoring, but he is holding a higher points per game ratio at 0.90.
Mikhail Vorobyov (Phi, 4th round pick, 2015) – Vorobyov stood out as a playmaking centre for the Russians during the tournament. Most plays went through him on the powerplay, and he was able to control the play when it was on his stick. He finished the tournament with 10 assists and zero goals in seven games, but it did not help him that he only took eight shots, EIGHT! Vorobyov has never had more than 10 goals in a season as he is not a big shot taker. If he is going to come over to North America he is really going to need to show different aspects to his game as one dimensional players do not excel well in the NHL.
Ilya Samsonov (Wsh, 1st round pick, 2015) – The Capitals goaltender stood out in the tournament for the Russians and as the tournament progressed so did his game. In the playoffs Samsonov only allowed four goals, three of which were to the Americans but none of the three were stoppable unless the crazy bounces somehow luckily hit him instead of hitting a hole and going in. He finished the tournament with a 0.930 save percentage and a 2.11 goals against average. I wrote more about his performance here –> http://www.dobberprospects.com/ilya-samsonov/.
Yegor Rykov (NJ, 5th round pick, 2016) – The defenseman who stood out most for the Russians was not Mikhail Sergachev (sometimes written Sergachov), the Montreal 2016 first round pick, but instead was the fifth round selection by the Devils in the same draft. Rykov ran the powerplay for the Russians and played a smart and quick transition game that gained him more ice time as the tournament progressed. The full time KHLer finished the tournament with seven points in the seven games, tied for third in scoring and finishing five points ahead of the next defenseman.
Other KHL players who impressed:
Pavel Karnaukhov (Cgy, 5th round pick 2016) – Karnaukhov, who went back to the KHL from the WHL Calgary Hitmen prior to the season starting, played well during the tournament but did not stand out as again the Russians really had one line going until the final two games. He finished the tournament with four points in seven games and became better as the tournament progressed. Karnaukhov only had 10 shots on goals, so his point total might be a little inflated (by one point) if he did not shoot 20%. He has bounced around the KHL and VHL this season and he seems to have stagnated in his point totals as he has around the same points per game that he did in the WHL.
Alexander Polunin (Passed over in 2016 draft) – Polunin showed up as one of the better players for the Russians in the tournament finishing with six points, three goals and three assists, in the seven games. He showed his skating prowess, quick release, playmaking ability, and high hockey IQ in the short tournament when eyes were not glued to Kaprizov. This season Polunin has 13 points in 36 games for Lokomotiv of the KHL as he could potentially be drafted this season. The reason he has been passed over, besides the Russian factor, is that he is 5-9 and 172 pounds, if it were not for those factors he would have been selected at least in the top four rounds.
Quick hit on notable Russia WJC players who play in North America.
Yakov Trenin (Nsh, 2nd round pick, 2015) – should have been much better in the tournament, but like most other Russian players struggled to score but got better as the tournament