Dec 24, 2012, 10:10 PM EDT
Team Russia has the advantage of being the host country in the upcoming 2013 World Junior Championship, but that’s certainly not the only thing they have going for them.
Russia announced its finalized roster for the upcoming tournament and it looks very impressive.
“Russia is always strong and this year’s team is as strong as the gold medal-winning group two years ago,” NHL Director of European Scouting, Goran Stubb, told NHL.com. “The goaltending is better now.”
Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko will headline the squad after helping the country earn a silver medal last year. Yakupov and Grigorenko were selected with the first and 12th picks respectively in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Andrei Vasilevski, who the Tampa Bay Lightning took with the 19th overall selection in 2012, will also be returning after posting a 2.01 GAA and .953 save percentage in last year’s tournament.
Hockey fans might also want to keep an eye on Valeri Nichushkin. NHL Central Scouting ranked him first among Russian skaters eligible for the 2013 draft.
“He’s a big, strong two-way winger,” Stubb said. “He’s tough to stop when driving to the net from either wing — a defenseman’s nightmare in one-on-one situations when at top speed. He handles the puck well in traffic, makes good decisions in those situations. Has a high overall skill level and moves well for a big guy. Smooth hands. Good playmaker.”
Russia will play against the United States on Dec. 28 and Canada on Dec. 31.
- Evander Kane: I know I can score 50 goals 4
- ‘C’-less Thornton comes out swing against Wilson’s ‘tomorrow team’ talk 13
- Joe Sakic’s now general manager in name too 5
- Update: Giroux out two weeks with lower-body injury 24
- Update: Crosby on ice with Penguins teammates Friday, leaves early 5
- Ouch: Wild reportedly suspend Harding for ‘non-hockey injury’ 28
- Keeping Kuemper: Wild sign goalie to two-year deal reportedly worth $2.5M 15
- Selanne regrets harsh words toward Boudreau 9
- Flyers’ Timonen admits chances of playing are ‘really slim’ 8
- Desjardins (a.k.a. not Torts) makes good first impression on Canucks 28
- Heeeeeere’s Johnny! Davidson shreds Johansen’s agent for ‘baffling, nonsensical’ contract demands (62)
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman (56)
- Jackets reveal Johansen offers — including an eight year, $46M deal (55)
- Will the NHL publicize divers? (48)
- No icing on the PK? The USHL will see how that looks (43)