Similar to last year, head coach Valeri Bragin will bring an experimental roster to Canada for the 2016 CIBC Canada Russia Series. This is contrary to what was the trend until a couple of years ago when the Russians brought pretty much their best players and won the series three times in five years. Bragin decided to bring to Canada many players who will need to fight for an actual spot on the roster, preferring to send more experienced players to the U20 4-Nation tournament in Sweden, also to let them play in the KHL against men. For example,
Bragin decided to bring to Canada many players who will need to fight for an actual spot on the roster, preferring to send more experienced players to the U20 4-Nation tournament in Sweden to let them play in the KHL against men. For example, Minnesota Wild prospect Kirill Kaprizov will not play at the CIBC Series, but of course is a lock to make the World Junior Championship roster.
Team Russia Goalies
Anton Krasotkin will enter the tournament as the most-likely candidate to get a pass to the WJC from this roster, since right now the goaltending duo looks to be Krasotkin and Washington Capitals prospect Ilya Samsonov, who backed up Team Russia in Sweden. Konstantin Volkov, a sixth-round draft pick for the Nashville Predators, will likely get a couple of games as well but will need to play like never before in order to rank up to Krasotkin or Samsonov in the team’s final depth chart. The fourth goalie, Vladislav Sukhachev from Traktor Chelyabinsk, is a very intriguing prospect, but he lacks experience, especially compared to the others, and was probably invited with the hopes that he will be the starting goalie next year.
Traditionally the Achilles heel of Team Russia, the defense doesn’t look strong on paper, also because most of the highly-touted defensive prospects are skating in the CHL, and will therefore only play with Bragin’s team in a couple of games. A few locks for the team played in Sweden, like New Jersey Devils draft pick Egor Rykov or Ak Bars Kazan defenseman Mikhail Sidorov.
In addition to the CHL players, the CIBC Series will feature some who have a good chance to play in the WJC, like Timur Fatkullin and Alexander Shchemerov, who are playing full-time in the KHL and will have an edge over other less experienced guys. Artem Chmykhov of CSKA Moscow is playing more than 12 minutes a night and plays a gritty style, which will certainly be appreciated by Bragin. However, given the team’s depth, he will have to play his best to make the WJC lineup.
Out of the Russians playing in the CHL, the ones that have a higher chance to play in the WJC are Montreal Canadiens prospect Mikhail Sergachev, Sergei Zborovskiy, and Artem Minulin. Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov, of course, will not skate in the series, nor at the WJC.
Team Russia has always been able to produce good forwards, but recently, they’ve reached a new level, especially regarding the depth of the Russian teams. This year, the depth is so good that it is very hard to predict who will actually get a ticket to the WJC, and this means that the games in Canada for the CIBC Series will be key for a lot of players.
Some players, as mentioned earlier, are locks for the team and will not skate in the series, like Kaprizov, Flyers prospect Mikhail Vorobyov and flashy winger Alexander Polunin, who went undrafted in spite of a good performance at last year’s WJC. The team will feature one interesting line, made up of Roman Krikunenko, Daniil Yurtaikin, and Denis Alexeyev. The troika is currently playing for HK Ryazan of the VHL, the farm team for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Other very interesting players will be Flyers first-round pick German Rubtsov, former Calgary Hitmen and Calgary Flames prospect Pavel Karnaukhov, and 2017 draft-eligible Klim Kostin.
CHL teams will offer some good players as well, namely 2017 draft-eligible Nikita Popugayev from the WHL, Toronto Maple Leafs Nikita Korostelev, Minnesota Wild Dmitri Sokolov, Nashville Predators Yakov Trenin, Columbus Blue Jackets Vitali Abramov, and Ottawa 67s Artur Tyanulin. Players with the most chance of making the WJC roster will most likely be Korostelev, Trenin, and Abramov.
The Bottom Line
With such an experimental roster, it will be harder for the Mother Land to win games than it was two or three years ago, therefore it is easy to think that the Canadian teams will win most of the games.
The Team Russia Roster
Anton Krasotkin (HK Ryazan – VHL)
Vladislav Sukhachev (Chelmet Chelyabinsk – VHL)
Konstantin Volkov (SKA-1946 St. Petersburg – MHL)
Artem Chmykhov (CSKA Moscow – KHL)
Grigory Dronov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk – KHL)
Timur Fatkullin (Metallurg Novokuznetsk – KHL)
Kamil Fazylzyanov (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk – KHL)
Ruslan Petrishchev (Toros Neftekamsk – VHL)
Alexander Shchemerov (Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg – KHL)
Artem Volkov (Dynamo Balashikha – KHL)
Egor Zaitsev (Dynamo Balashikha – VHL)
Denis Alexeyev (HK Ryazan – VHL)
Kirill Belyaev (Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk – KHL)
Nikita Dynyak (Dynamo St. Petersburg – VHL)
Pavel Karnaukhov (Zvezda Chekhov – VHL)
Klim Kostin (Dynamo Balashikha – VHL)
Roman Krikunenko (HK Ryazan – VHL)
Danila Kvartalnov (CSKA Moscow – KHL)
Nikita Li (Spartak Moscow – KHL)
German Rubtsov (Vityaz Podolsk – KHL)
Kirill Urakov (Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod – KHL)
Alexander Volkov (SKA-Neva St. Petersburg – VHL)
Danil Yurtaykin (HK Ryazan – VHL)
Artem Minulin (Swift Current Broncos)
Nikita Popugayev (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Dmitry Zaitsev (Moose Jaw Warriors)
Sergey Zborovskiy (Regina Pats)
Nikita Korostelev (Sarnia Sting)
Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)
Dmitry Sokolov (Sudbury Wolves)
Artur Tyanulin (Ottawa 67’s)
Vitali Abramov (Gatineau Olympiques)
Yakov Trenin (Gatineau Olympiques)
Game 1 – November 7 at Prince George, BC
Game 2 – November 8 at Edmonton, AB
Game 3 – November 10 at North Bay, ON
Game 4 – November 14 at Hamilton, ON
Game 5 – November 15 at Chicoutimi, QC
Game 6 – November 17 at Baie-Comeau, QC
A professional hockey writer and translator. Loves Russian culture, language, and hockey. Reachable on twitter @AlexSerenRosso