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Author: Evgeny Belashchenko (RP Exlcusive)Date: 11/27/2004
ADT Canada-Russia Challenge - Team Russia Roster Breakdown (Forwards)

2005 U20 Canada-Russia ChallengeADT Canada-Russia Challenge - Team Russia Roster Breakdown (Forwards)

FORWARDS
Russia’s forwards plenty of names that may not be that well-known to those who only follow the NHL draft. Many have not been drafted, but have already been playing at the Super League (Russia 1) or High League (Russia 2) levels against professional adult players. One thing Russia’s offense does lack is size beyond the first line of Radulov-Voloshenko-Yunkov. They do have lots of speed and experience, though size may become an issue.

Kochetkov, Sergei - Apr. 1, 1985 - Sergei Kochetkov was raised in the hockey school of Metallurg Magnitogorsk, but hasn’t been there for a while. An average-sized forward at 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, he spent the past two seasons (`02-3 and `03-4) in the High League (Russia 2). His first season was spent with Dynamo Energia (Yekaterinburg), and the second with Mechel (Chelyabinsk). He was quite a sniper with Mechel, racking up 26 points (13+13) in 48 regular season games. This season, he signed with Khimik (Vosskresensk), and has been consistently in the club’s lineup on the fourth line. Khimik likely let him attend this tournament because of the arrival of Anton Dubinin from CSKA. Dubinin is also an ’85-born, and there is only one U20 spot for the two to share, so Dubinin won out, leaving Kochetkov on the side.

Koptyaev, Alexei - Jul. 15, 1985 - Koptyaev is another Russian with Super League (Russia 1) experience. The young forward has spent the past few years in SKA St. Petersburg’s system, making his Super League debut last season, skating in 17 contests without registering a point. Koptyaev has regularly skated on SKA’s third or fourth line, often with last year’s Canada Challenge participant Ruslan Khasanshin.

Kulemin, Nikolai - Jul. 14, 1986 - A product of the Metallurg (Magnitogorsk) hockey school, Kulemin spent the entire last season with the U18 squad, including the U18 WJC tournament. He does not have any Super League or High League experience.

Lemtyugov, Nikolai - Jan. 15, 1986 - CSKA (Moscow) product, Lemtyugov was highly touted before last season as a potential first or second round pick. However, the hype quickly dissipated and the young forward didn’t even make the Russian squad at the U18 WJC. But he did put together some impressive numbers in the 1st League (Russia 3) last season. Lemtyugov spent the 2004-05 preseason with CSKA, but was one of the club’s last roster cuts before the start of the season. He accompanied the Super League club to Switzerland for a friendly tournament during the early November break. A soft sniper, it will be interesting to see how Lemtyugov adjusts to the smaller rink size and the more physical North American game.

Naurov, Alexander - Mar. 4, 1985 (Dallas' 4th Round/134th overall '04) - Alexander Naurov is a promising young player who had quite an unfortunate season in `03-4 following an impressive performance at the 2003 U18 WJC. The young forward seriously injured his leg during the 2003-04 preseason and missed six months. After his return to action, Naurov struggled to get back into shape in the 1st League (Russia 3). Eventually, he got back into the groove, emerging as the club’s top sniper during the 1st league playoffs. This season, Naurov started off strong with Lokomotiv, making his Super League debut. On a club known for its’ youthful depth, Naurov was one of a number of players being used to fulfill the U20 requirement, so his assignment to this national team is not a surprise. While he is not big, his presence will boost the grit and aggressiveness of this squad, as he always plays the game at full tilt.

Plyuschev, Alexander - Feb. 8, 1986 - It was surprising not to see Alexander Plyuschev selected in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. While he may not be a top-notch prospect, Plyuschev does have a good amount of potential and was consistently a member of Russia’s U18 national squad last season. Plyuschev doesn’t have much professional experience though, as he spent most of the `03-4 season with Spartak’s junior farm club, appearing in only a couple of High League (Russia 2) contests against very weak opponents. During the offseason, Plyuschev signed a deal with Severstal (Cherpovets), however, unfortunately he has was unable to break into the club’s lineup for almost two months, finally making his Super League (Russia 1) debut in late October. He has skated on the club’s fourth line in four contests thus far this season, recording no points. Plyuschev brings a scoring touch to the national team and should be effective on the smaller North American rink. Known to carry a bit of an attitude, it will be interesting to see if his lack of big-league icetime in Russia has changed his outlook.

Shirokov, Sergei - Mar. 10, 1986 - Of all the Russians who went undrafted this past summer, Shirokov is definitely among the top three biggest surprises. He is a mobile, fluid skater with lots of speed, who also handles the puck well. He spent the entire 2003-04 season on U18 Team Russia’s third line with Plyuschev and Enver Lisin (a Phoenix second-rounder last summer). Shirokov started the 2004-05 season with CSKA (Moscow), but was sent down to CSKA 2 after the preseason. CSKA still has significant interest in the young forward, taking him along for the friendly games in Germany during the November break in the Super League season. Shirokov’s presence on Russia’s roster gives the squad a dangerous sniper. While not very big, Shirokov is a tough customer and doesn’t hesitate going through traffic and doing the dirty work.

Skorokhodov, Igor - May 4, 1986 - Igor Skorokhodov is a product of the Severstal (Cherpovets) hockey school. He was regularly invited to the U18 Russian squad’s training camp all last season, but made the team only once. As his name suggests (Skorokohodov means fast walking in Russian), he has some good speed to his game. However, he is isn’t overly big at 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, and is a marginal forward who doesn’t like to mix it up in traffic. Nor does he possess impressive technical skills. Skorokhodov does bring Super League (Russia 1) experience to the Russian roster, however. He made his debut last season, skating three games for Severstal and even scoring a goal. This season, he continued to see spot duty on the club’s fourth line, skating 10 games and registering 1 assist and 2PIM. It appears that Alexander Plyuschev may be starting to give Skorokhodov a run for his money for the U20 roster spot with Severstal, as both forwards are now utilized on the fourth line.

Stepanov, Andrei - Apr. 14, 1986 - RussianProspects described Stepanov last season as " a forward who has a giant heart, but no skills to accompany his will and work ethic" . Stepanov is an quick, average-sized forward who doesn’t give up on plays. Though he doesn’t really impress in any category, he does have good speed and plays a decent all-around game. He has really improved this season in the High League (Russia 2), consistently making the Soviet Wings lineup. Thus far, he leads the Soviet Wings with 8 goals in 15 games, which is impressive considering the next highest scorer is Voloshenko with 6. Since there will be less ice for Stepanov to use at the Canada Challenge, it’s unlikely he will be doing much scoring.

Voloshenko, Roman - May 12, 1986 (Minnesota's 2nd Round/42nd overall '04) - Voloshenko’s presence on this squad makes a world of difference. The young player is developing into quite a power forward with a good scoring touch. He should be able to hold his own quite well at this tournament, and it will be exciting to see the Radulov - Yunkov - Voloshenko line back together again. Voloshenko and Yunkov continue to skate together in the High League (Russia 2) for the Soviet Wings, and even when there were talks of trading the duo to a Super League club, they were usually being offered together as a unit. In Voloshenko, the Canadian audiences will have a chance to take a look at one of the forwards who will most likely have a prominent role on Russia’s squad at the U20 WJC.

Yunkov, Mikhail - Feb 16,1986 (Washington's 2nd Round/62nd overall '04) - Yunkov is the other third of the Radulov-Yunkov-Voloshenko combo from last year’s U18 competitions. He is the workhorse of the line, consistently feeding his linemates and doing all the dirty work that usually doesn’t get as much attention. Yunkov hasn’t enjoyed as much success this season as his linemates, Radulov and Voloshenko, but he is still a great addition to the team, adding speed, skill and faceoff ability to the squad. Yunkov will likely also be reunited with Radulov and Voloshenko at the U20 WJC this winter.

Zhmaev, Vladimir - Mar. 7, 1986 - Zhmaev is a product of Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)’s hockey system. The young forward was fairly highly touted early last season, but, after being unable to make the U18 squad, he fell out of favor and went undrafted. This season, he made his Super League debut with Salavat Yulayev, skating in four contests thus far. Zhmaev is actually known more as a defenseman than a forward, so the switch to the front line is something new. His skating isn’t very impressive, nor is his physical play. It’s doubtful that he has made any meteoric gains over the past few months, and will likely be one of the more remote members of this Russian team.

Zhurun, Alexander - Mar. 8, 1985 - Zhurun is a full-fledged member of the Molot (Perm) Super League (Russia 1) club. His presence on this squad’s roster is largely an indicator of how precarious the current situation is with Molot, since the club is entrenched in last spot of the Super League rankings. Since Russian leagues have now " frozen" the Super League (which means that no team will be relegated or promoted from the lower leagues this season), Molot is not threatened with relegation and could stand to play without Zhurun for a few games. Zhurun spent the entire last season with Molot in the High League (Russia 2), helping his club ascend into the Super League right before the gates were closed. At just 19 years of age, he already made his Super League debut two seasons ago, spending the entire season with Molot in the Super League before the club was relegated. Zhurun has a very thick frame and is tough to knock of the puck. He stands at just 5-foot-10, but weighs almost 200 pounds, and, while he doesn’t have great top speed, his solid overall two-way game makes him a welcome addition to the squad.

- Evgeny Belashchenko

Related Player Profiles: . S.Kochetkov A.Koptyaev N.Kulemin N.Lemtyugov A.Naurov A.Plyuschev S.Shirokov I.Skorokhodov A.Stepanov R.Voloshenko M.Yunkov V.Zhmaev A.Zhurun
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