Team Russia Tops and Flops at 2016 WJC

It has been a good ride for Team Russia, with yet another appearance on the finals, but also another silver medal after last year’s 5-4 loss to Team Canada. The Russians are doing well in the latest few years: the 2016 silver is the sixth straight medal, but with only one win, in 2011. The gold medal game was a great show, with plenty of emotions on both sides, and at the end Finland deservedly won, in spite of the Russian efforts. Probably the Russians lacked some star power. The Finns had Patrik Laine, Jesse Puljujarvi, and Sebastian Aho, while Bragin’s team didn’t have many stars, even if they could count on many above-average players. Throughout the tournament, Team Russia had quite some good performers, but also players who disappointed. Let’s have a look.

Team Russia Tops

This team wouldn’t have make it to the finals if it wasn’t for Vladislav Kamenev. The Predators prospect had a great overall tournament, acting as a true leader of the team, scoring two consecutive goals in the quarterfinals against Team Denmark, including the OT winner. He delivered a good performance in the gold medal game too, scoring the 1-0 goal for the Russians, but he also lost his cool after the 3-2 goal by the Finns getting a game penalty. Overall, he finished the tournament with five goals in seven games, with six points.

The line made up of Winnipeg Jets prospect Pavel Kraskovsky and KHL prospects Egor Korshkov and Alexander Polunin probably was the best for Team Russia. They played with great chemistry, as it was to be expected, and delivered a solid performance in pretty much all the games, including the gold medal game. Egor Korshkov was probably the best player overall for the Russians in the semifinal game against Team USA, with a great game-winning goal and a helper, and he was also the top scorer of the team (tied with Ivan Provorov), with eight points. Polunin and Kraskovsky hit the scoresheet with less frequency, but complemented Korshkov’s game very well and formed a very dangerous unit. Both Korshkov and Polunin should have rised their stock in sight of the next NHL draft as they showed they can deliver even in big games.

Another player who certainly made a good impression was Kings prospect Alexander Dergachyov. He was iced in most key situations in the gold medal game and gave it all, fighting until the end. He scored only two points, but Bragin preferred using him more for his great size and forechecking ability, rather than an offensive threat, as the team had enough scorers. Surely Dergachyov showed to be an NHL-ready prospect, especially for his size and mental toughness.

Two players who played well, but not great, were Flyers prospect Radel Fazleev and Wild draftee Kirill Kaprizov. Both players had an okay tournament, maybe they could do a bit better, but they played rather well. Another couple of players who deserve a mention are Andrei Svetlakov, with his double in the gold medal game, and Artur Lauta.

On defense, of course Ivan Provorov was the standout of the group. He had an amazing tournament, especially in the medal round, and led Team Russia (tied with Korshkov) with eight points. It was his shot, deflected by Svetlakov, who allowed the Russians to tie the gold medal game with less than seven seconds to the horn. He delivered great performances at both ends of the ice, and was probably the best single player for the team.

Ivan Provorov (Eugene Erick/WHL)
Ivan Provorov (Eugene Erick/WHL)

Other defensemen who fared well were Egor Rykov and Nikita Zhuldikov.

On goal, Bragin surprised by playing Alexander Georgiev in the gold medal game, when many expected Ilya Samsonov to play, especially considering his strong performance in the semifinals against Team USA. But Georgiev had a good tournament, therefore hardly playing Samsonov in the finals would have made a difference.

Team Russia Flops

With zero points in seven games playing on the first line, Evgeni Svechnikov simply had a very bad tournament. Perhaps he was meant to be the star power the Russians lacked in the tournament, and it’s just incredible to think that he didn’t have even a secondary assist in the whole thing. His linemate Maxim Lazarev scored more (three goals and five points), but this doesn’t mean that he played well. The two dynamic wingers didn’t manage to replicate the success they have in the QMJHL, and luckily for the Russians Kamenev stepped up to make their line a dangerous one anyway. Another player who disappointed, even if the expectations on him weren’t as high, is Andrei Kuzmenko, who finished the tournament scoreless.

Evgeny Svechnikov, Detroit Red Wings, NHL Draft
Evgeny Svechnikov – The Soviet Sniper – was selected 19th overall in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. (Credit: Mike Sullivan)

Both Avs pick Sergei Boikov and Kings prospect Damir Sharipzyanov finished the tournament scoreless. Both had some good defensive performances from time to time, but the expectations on them were pretty high, considering that they are doing well in North America.

It was overall a good tournament for Russia, and the final result, a silver medal, was maybe higher than the expectations, since this wasn’t the most talented team the Russians put together in the recent years. With that being said, Team Russia will have some good players for next year to try getting their revenge in Montreal. The eligible Russians are Ilya Samsonov, Ivan Provorov, Egor Rykov, Egor Voronkov, Kirill Kaprizov, and Alexander Polunin.