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Author: Evgeny Belashchenko (RP Exlcusive)Date: 09/17/2004
U18 Team Russia Lineup, Evaluation and Grades - Defensemen and Goalies (2005 NHL Entry Draft Scouting)

2004 U18 Junior World CupU18 TEAM RUSSIA LINEUP - Defensemen and Goalies:

Goalies:
Ilya Proskuryakov (starter)
Alexander Tryanichev (backup)

Defensemen:
Anton Poleschuk-Vitaly Anikeenko
Denis Pakhomov-Igor Nikitin
Andrei Zubarev- Vyacheslav Buravchikov
Alexei Privalov (played forward often)

PLAYER PERFORMANCE RECAPS: (compilation of reviews of several of our scouts present at the tournament)

Igor Nikitin – Defenseman (Grade B)
Delivered an inconsistent performance...despite scoring two goals, Nikitin’s offensive upside lies solely in his hard shot with which he scored both goals...the precision of his slap shot has improved over the summer...did not show any significant defensive shortcomings, but still needs to mark his man better in his own zone and improve his positional play, as he was prone to several positional lapses...though Nikitin can’t be called a soft player, he needs to further work on his presence in the crease area and clearing out his opponents...he scored one of his goals off a set up from his defensive partner Pakhomov, and the other one off a deflection...earned his only assist when another Russian player scored off a rebound from Nikitin’s slap shot.

Vitaly Anikienko – Defenseman (Grade C)
Was very weak in the beginning of the tournament, but became average towards the latter games, somewhat salvaging a less than mediocre performance...did not meet the hefty expecatations put on his shoulders by a long shot...appeared to have regressed in almost every category.... had trouble reading the plays and keeping up with the action, especially when it was necessary to retun to his own zone...at time he was the last player back in the defensive zone (!)...did not make good decisions with the puck, sometimes taking to much risk when the situation called for prudence...appears to have developed physically, but was hesitant to use his hefty frame to lay a hit on anyone, often skating away from the competition...did display a very impressive reach...did not show much imagination with his passing, missing out on a lot of scoring chances, ignoring some nice passing lanes...appears to have all the tools to be an elite defenseman, but has not developed mentally to make solid use of those tools. A lot of the mistakes appear to have to do with Anikienko’s hockey sense and mental make up.

Vyacheslav Buravchikov – Defenseman (Grade B-)
Delivered an inspired, but very disappointing performance at the U18 World Cup Tournament...captained the Russian squad and showed up in every game with a high level of intensity...made some impressive passes to his linemates, but at times his passes had trouble finding the intended target...proved mostly to be competent in his own end, but did get caught out of position on several occasions and had to rely on his speed to salvage the situation...The opinions of our scouts ranged significantly on Buravchikov...one scout called him " arguably the top Russian defenseman" , while the other stated that Buravchikov " did not impress with his play at the tournament" ...Despite his seemingly solid overall play, Buravchikov managed to only earn a single assist, and as our aforementioned scout with a lower opinion of the young blue liner stated it, Buravchikov " could not make it happen at the offensive end of the ice, where he should be at his best" .

Alexei Privalov – Defenseman (Grade D+)
Privalov was probably one of Russia’s weakest defensemen at the tournament...he was Russia’s seventh defenseman for most of the tournament...one of the blatant holes in this defenseman’s game is his lack of a solid top speed and maneuverability, though he did appear to boost his first step....has registered some progress in his skating, but still needs to further improve his lateral movement and backwards skating...boosted Russia’s physical presence on the blue line, using his body and effectively fighting for the puck at the boards, however, Privalov did not appear to have the same mean streak and physical presence he had at the February ’87 tournament...was little help in the offensive zone, but Privalov does possess a very hard, though inaccurate slap shot

Denis Pakhomov -- Defenseman – (Grade B+)
Put together a dependible two way showing for the Russian squad...was one of Russia’s top passers in the tournament...needs to use his shot more often, and needs to harden his slap shot....effectively used his defensive partner Nikitin, setting him up twice with great feeds...is not blessed with a large frame, but still tends to play tough hockey and should not be considered soft, though he does tend to use his stick more often than his body...one example comes to mind from the game against the Swiss, when Pakhomov made a blatant slash at an opponent and cost his team a minor two minute penalty.

Anton Poleschuk – Defenseman – (Grade C-)
Played well in the first game against the Czechs, but then his performance decline...made some terrible mistakes, especially against the Americans, that marred an overall solid performance...showcased solid skating and ability to help in the offensive end of the ice with his strong, precise slapshot and hard one timers...proved to be prone to giveaways when rushing the puck up the ice, and since he is a defenseman and played with Anikienko who rarely stayed in the defensive zone, it meant that the opposing team had either a clear breakaway, or an odd man rush towards Russia’s net...needs to imrpove his decision making – his giveaways in the game against US cost Russia two goals, putting the team in the hole 2-0...playing with Anikienko caused Poleschuk a good amount of grief, as he often ended up alone in the defensive zone as Anikienko tended to often be out of position especially on turnovers... Summary: Needs to improve his decision making, especially under pressure...needs to play more agressivively to make an impact, especially since he is on the smaller side amongst Russian defensemen.

Andrei Zubarev – Defenseman (Grade B)
Was one of Russia’s top defensemen, delivering a solid tournament...did not show the offensive upside he appeared to have at the February '04 tournament and when we asked one of our scouts regarding this issue, the response was that "Zubarev had a more defensive role on the club this time"...appears to have been assigned the defensive responsibilities...used his body well and proved to be very dangerous one on one and at the boards...showed a lot of toughness...sees the ice very well in his own zone, and while he seems to be able to read plays in the offensive zone, he needs to improve on his passing skills...did not show off his strong slap shot all that much, but when he did unleash the shot, it became evident that he needs to improve it’s accuracy.

Alexander Tryanchev – Goalie (Grade – B-)
Russian ’87 squad’s third string goaltender all last season, finally earned a spot on the team...played well against the Swiss, though the Swiss squad wasn’t very good...suffered a knee injury in his second contest, but the extent of the injury is unclear, though it appears to be fairly serious...needs to further improve his rebound control – most of the time he effectively deflects the rebounds to the corners, but he at times had trouble handling the rebounds that landed in front of him...needs to further work on his mobility, as he does not challenge the shooters very much and does not get out of the net to play the puck...showed a lot of poise and does not seem to be rattled easily.

Ilya Proskuryakov – Goalie (Grade – B+)
Russia’s starting goaltender and one of Russia’s strongest players at the tournament...improved in most categories since last season, including his positioning and angles...known to be a completely butterfly goalie, he needs to further improve the speed of his butterfly and keeping the pucks out of the five-hole...needs to continue to work on his glove hand....has really improved his lateral maneuverability and showed it to be one of his strengths at this tournament...came up big for Russia, making some key saves when the team needed them most...known to have some discipline issues in the past, when we asked one of our scouts regarding Proskuryakov, he said: " He gained a lot this season, but it’s not likely that things improved significantly with his discipline" ...on a side note, this season Proskuryakov switched from a Hasek player style helmet to a regular goalie helmet.

Related Player Profiles: . V.Anikienko V.Buravchikov I.Nikitin D.Pakhomov A.Poleschuk A.Privalov I.Proskuryakov A.Tryanichev A.Zubarev
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