KHL Update – The World Junior Championship Russian roster:
Ivan Chekhovich, F, SJ – A back injury forced the skilled Russian out of the tournament a day before the last preliminary game versus the Swiss
Artyom Nikolayev, F, not drafted – Has 10 points in 16 VHL games for SKA-Neva St. Petersburg and no points in 13 KHL games for SKA St. Petersburg
Alexander Yaremchuk, F, not drafted – He has played all year in the KHL with Avangard Omsk and through 16 games as a young player has one assist
Artyom Volkov, D, not drafted – Volkov has played a majority of his career in the MHL and has played a couple games in the VHL this season. He has never lit up any season as he is not an offense-minded defenseman
Daniil Valitov, D, not drafted – The 18-year old defenseman was cut as he was one of the youngest players on the team and Russians prefer an older line up. He has nine points in 13 MHL games, but has zero points in two VHL games and seven KHL games.
***Two more players need to be cut as Head Coach Bragin said he will go with 13F and 7D. That will happen right up to the deadline, which guaranteed will be after I post this!
Daniil Tarasov, CBJ – Tarasov should be the starting goalie for Russia and has a chance to be the top goalie in the tournament. Last season he was one of the best MHL goalies with a 0.928 save percentage in 40 games. This year in the VHL for Toros Neftekamsk he has a 0.916 sv% in 16 games.
Pyotr Kochetkov, not drafted – Kochetkov has a game in the KHL where he did not look great (for a poor team), but in 12 VHL games has been very rock solid for HK Ryazan. He can be a solid back up who could have a chance to steal the starters net if required.
Amir Miftakhov, not drafted – The 18-year old is the youngest of the three goalies selected and will likely see all the press box action he can handle, while backing up a weak game where Russia wants to protect its starter. He has a chance to be draft this season as he is a very athletic and quick goalie. The tools are there
Defense (from last pre-tournament game Dec 23 vs Switzerland minus recent cuts):
Samorukov, EDM – Rubinchik, not drafted
Samorukov is playing in the OHL and has routinely been a feature on Russia international rosters and is paired with former Saskatoon Blades turned VHL Toros Neftekamsk Rubinchik. This pair knows North American ice and should be a solid pairing for the Russians
Alexeyev, WSH – Olshansky, not drafted
Alekseev has been one of the best defensemen in the WHL this year for Red Deer as he is just over a point per game. Olshansky has played in the MHL, VHL and KHL this season but has not looked out of place in each level he has played in.
Ilya Morozov, not drafted – Zhuravlyov, COL
Morozov has played 33 KHL games this season for Sibir Novosibirsk in the KHL and has played well for a young defenseman, while Zhuravlyov has no points in 24 VHL games but is very solid and this should make for a solid pairing.
Kalabushkin, not drafted – Romanov, MTL
Kalabushkin has played in both the VHL and MHL while Romanov has been playing well in the KHL for CSKA Moskva through 28 games. Romanov will likely play in the WJC as you can ice seven defensemen.
Forwards (from last pre-tournament game Dec 23 vs Switzerland minus recent cuts):
Denisenko, FLA – Kravtsov, NYR – Kostin, STL
This line will dominate the tournament, and it will be very interesting to watch Kravtsov at centre versus the stronger nations. The depth of the forwards and the defense will be the issue for Russia
Kovalenko, COL – Shen, BOS – Starkov, not drafted
This line will be a solid bottom six line for Russia as they have skill but all three have not been great at scoring so far this season in the KHL with low ice time.
Marchenko, CBJ – Ivan Morozov, VGK – Podkolzin, 2019-potential top five pick
This line will be a sneaky great line for Russia as it is all skill and size (Marchenko) but limited on the defense-side. The chemistry Marchenko and Morozov already have from this season will carry over, and add in the gifted Podkolzin this line up can put up points if teams do not check it properly.
Muranov, not drafted – Galimov, not drafted – Slepets, not drafted
A KHL line that Russia loves to bring every tournament. Who knows how they will do on North American ice but we shall see.
Khovanov, MIN – Shashkov, not drafted
Khovanov has been a stand out in the QMJHL this season finally being recovered from the illness he encountered last season. He should be in the line-up and a top nine centre but the Russians may do it differently.
Russia can finish second in group A but could also finish third if the Zadina-Necas-Kaut line runs over them when they play the Czechs.
Thanks for reading.
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