|Author: RussianProspects.com (RP Exclusive)||Date: 05/17/2004
|U18 World Junior Championships Player Performance Recaps Part 3: Forwards - Second Line (Radulov- Yunkov- Voloshenko)|
|2004 U18 World Junior ChampionshipsAll season, U18 Team Russia’s second line (Radulov – Yunkov –
Voloshenko) has been the squad’s most dynamic unit with the most chemistry.
The line’s production really skyrocketed during February’s Five Nations
Tournament. An important factor in the line’s success has been the manner
in which all it’s members complement each other and share the puck. Roman
Voloshenko is the designated finished, Alexander Radulov is the playmaker and
Mikhail Yunkov is the defensive center. Listed below are the individual recaps
and grades of each player of the U18 Russian National team’s high powered
second line. The grading scale is from " A" to " F" , with
" F" being the worst possible grade and " A" being the best
Alexander Radulov RW (Grade B)
Radulov’s Recall to Dynamo
As reported earlier by RussianProspects.com, Radulov was recalled by Dynamo
Moscow from Tver late in the regular season. The move caused a lot of concern
regarding the young player’s development, since he was the top impact
player for THK Tver in the High League, and most likely would have never seen
much ice with Dynamo Moscow. The fears proved to be founded, as Radulov played
only one game for Dynamo Moscow in almost two months with the club, spending
the rest of the regular season with Dynamo 2, playing at a significantly lower
level of hockey. While with Dynamo 2, Radulov lost some of the edge he gained
while with THK, and arrived at the U18 WJC training camp in not as good of a
playing shape as he was in at the February’s Five Nations tournament.
Radulov started the tournament off strong in the qualifying round. The young
forward saw the ice well and proved to be a very good playmaker. While his hands
are not on the same level as those of Malkin or Parshin, Radulov would probably
be the third or fourth best puckhandler being drafted out of Russia this year.
The talented winger carried the puck up the ice with confidence and made a lot
of impressive set ups for his linemates, especially Voloshenko. To effectively
complement his strong array of skills, the young forward does still need to
improve his skating, which is currently slightly above average. Radulov was
not as dominant in Minsk as he was in Finland a few months earlier, but throughout
the tournament he still played at a very high level and the young forward showed
a lot of heart and effort.
The Medal Round
Surprisingly, the young winger, who is known for letting emotions get the better
of him and unnecessarily draw penalties, only received a single minor penalty
during the entire tournament. This is a positive and a negative indicator of
Radulov’s performance at the U18 WJC. While he played more disciplined
hockey, Radulov also did not fare well against more physical Canadian and American
squads, which is a cause for some concern. This is likely a mental issue that
the young forward will need to battle through. Radulov does not need to become
an enforcer, but he does need to learn to stay in the play despite physical
Radulov enjoyed a solid tournament and despite a lackluster medal round, he
still solidified his position as a first round pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft,
possibly moving ahead of Enver Lisin amongst Russia’s eligible players.
Roman Voloshenko (Grade A-)
Leading to the U18 WJC in a big way
Voloshenko has really come up strong in the last quarter of the regular season.
Trusted by the High League’s Soviet Wings coaching staff, the young forward
has seen more ice time, boosting the pace of his development. His club was knocked
out of the playoffs just before the start of the U18 Team Russia’s training
camp prior to the U18 WJC. This meant that Voloshenko was in good shape and
well seasoned to perform at the tournament.
Voloshenko delivered a strong, consistent performance at the U18 WJC. While
he did score a couple of goals against the lowly Norway squad, a lot of his
tallies and assists came when Team Russia needed them most – in the medal
round games. Voloshenko is budding into a power forward and at the tournament
he showed off his size and finishing abilities. He also has a very good wrist
shot. The young forward’s skating remains his most significant downside.
While not slow, Voloshenko lacks the skating technique and top speed to take
full advantage of his other assets. One positive result of his sub par skating
is that it changed his style of play, making him more aggressive. Likely understanding
that he will not score goals with his speed, Voloshenko tends to aggressively
drive towards the net through opponents. Throughout the tournament, the young
forward used his linemates effectively, sharing the puck. Defensively he constantly
helped out and showed a lot of effort, especially at the boards. Overall, the
young forward was really a difference maker on his line, taking on the role
of the go-to guy who would finish plays and score in a clutch.
Mikhail Yunkov (Grade B)
Prior to the U18 WJC, Yunkov spent the entire season with the High League club
Soviet Wings playing on the same line with Roman Voloshenko. The two maintained
very good chemistry throughout the season and it has clearly carried over to
the international competition. Towards the end of the season, however, Yunkov’s
performance has declined a bit and he was not as effective on the ice as he
was just a month or two earlier.
The relative drop in Yunkov’s performance unfortunately spilled over
to the U18 World Junior Championships, as he delivered a solid, but not an impressive
performance that would have assured him a spot in the second round. The young
center did not stand out, but he did contribute defensively and effectively
supported his linemates. On offense, Yunkov shared the puck and set up his linemates,
but failed to prove himself an effective scoring threat. Overall, the talented
center was the workhorse of his high scoring line. He worked hard on defense,
brought the puck up the ice and did the small things to make sure his linemates
had more space on the ice. He will likely remain a second round pick, but may
drop further in the second round, or even to the third round as did another
Russian workhorse type defensive center Grigori Shafigulin at last year’s
NHL Entry Draft, who dropped to the third round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft
after a weak U18 WJC performance.
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