|Author: Evgeny Belashchenko (RP Exlcusive)||Date: 12/05/2004
|U20 WJC Russian Roster Predictions: Defensemen (In Depth Analysis)|
|2005 U20 World Junior ChampionshipsRUSSIA’S 2005 U20 WJC DEFENSIVE CANDIDATES: |
The following players are the likely candidates for Russia’s U20 WJC training
camp roster. The players are split up into four categories. The " definite"
players will be on Russia’s U20 WJC roster barring injury. The " likely"
players will most likely be on Russia’s U20 WJC roster barring injury. The
" possible" players will have a chance to make the roster, but most
will likely be left in Russia. The " fringe" players will have very
little chance to be on Russia’s team at the U20 WJC.
Definite Candidates (All will definitely make the U20 WJC roster barring
Andrei Pervyshin (St. Louis Blues #253/2003) – Former U18 Team
Russia’s captain, Adnrei Pervyshin remains one of the top playmaking U20
blue liners in Russia. The young defenseman has a unique vision of the ice and
is responsible, yet creative with the puck. He has been a regular with the Super
League’s (Russia 1) Ak Bars (Kazan) this season.
Dmitri Vorobiev (Toronto Maple Leafs #157/2004) – Dmitri
Vorobiev has taken over a top six spot on Lada’s (Togliatti) roster in
the Super League (Russia 1). The reliable defensive defenseman with an impressive
slapshot, Vorobiev has impressed all season and has come on even stronger in
Denis Ezhov (Buffalo Sabres #114/2003) – Denis Ezhov
is one of the more seasoned Candidates of the squad, but who has struggled for
the second season in a row to earn Super League ice time. However, he appears
to have finally found his " home" with Metallurg (Novokuznetsk).
The reliable " utility" defenseman has a wealth of international
experience, including two U20 WJC tournaments already under his belt.
Grigori Misharin (Minnesota Wild #207/2003) – Grigori
Misharin brings size and stability in the defensive zone. He has skated the
entire season in the Super League (Russia 1) with Neftkhimik (Nizhnekamsk),
and also has experience in North American style hockey, as he spent the 2003-04
season in the OHL.
Likely Candidates (All will likely make the U20 WJC roster barring
Dmitri Megalinsky (2005 NHL Entry Draft) – Dmitri Megalinsky
has been one of the top overlooked ’85 born defensemen in Russia. He spent
the past season in the High League, vastly improving and developing his overall
game. His skating still needs to be improved, but his overall game impresses.
Megalinsky’s solid performance at the Canada-Russia Challenge tournament
will likely improve his chances of making the squad. He has already been a regular
at the couple of previous U20 tournaments this season.
Yakov Rylov (2005 NHL Entry Draft) – Rylov seemingly
came out of nowhere, earning a spot on Dynamo (Moscow) roster in the Super League
(Russia). The young blue liner was initially put into the lineup to fill in
the U20 player requirement, but now gets regular shifts throughout the game.
While his skating and decision-making with the puck need to improve, Rylov’s
poise, maturity and lack of intimidation in the crease make him a full fledged
member of Russia’s current top Super League club. His Super League experience
has already earned him one trip to a U20 tournament this season, and will likely
mean a nod for the U20 WJC.
Grigori Panin (2005 NHL Entry Draft) – Panin’s
offensive upside and a bit of a mean streak make him an attractive player to
be a member of the Russian U20 WJC roster. He is a long time Dmitri Vorobiev’s
defensive partner on the national team, and the two are known as a " Lada
defensive pairing" . He has also been a regular in Lada’s lineup
this season in the Super League (Russia 1), which has helped him significantly
develop his game and boost his confidence.
Possible Candidates (Only one or two of the following blue liners will
make Russia’s U20 WJC roster):
Roman Tesliuk (Edmonton Oilers #44/2004) – Tesliuk was recognized
as one of the top ’86 born blue liners in Russia before he left for North
America during the summer of 2003. In his second season in the WHL, he has adjusted
well to the North American game and would bring a lot of value to the Russian
squad on the North American ice. However, his long absence from Team Russia’s
roster will likely hurt him. If he is a member of Russia’s squad during
the WHL leg of the Canada-Russia Challenge tour, and if he impresses Gersonsky,
the young blue liner might merit an invitation. Those are two very big " ifs"
and while he is a possible candidate, it’s only possible, not likely,
that Tesliuk will be in Russia’s lineup at the U20 WJC.
Anton Belov (2005 NHL Entry Draft) – It was a bit of
a surprise that Anton Belov did not make the roster of the U20 Russian squad
that competed at a Four Nations Tournament early this past November. He has
been a regular in the Super League (Russia 1) on CSKA (Moscow) roster and has
been widely regarded by that club’s coaches as a stronger defenseman than
Dmitri Kosmachev (Columbus Blue Jackets) or Kiril Lyamin (Ottawa Senators).
He is not in the likely category because he has already been released once by
Gersonsky from the U20 squad, and even though he will likely get a second chance,
he will need to really impress this time around.
Kiril Lyamin (Ottawa Seantors #58/2004) – After an impressive
Super League debut during the 2003-04 season, Kiril Lyamin’s absence from
the CSKA’s season starting roster was a bit of a mystery. Thus far, the
hard hitting defenseman has spent the 2004-05 season with CSKA’s junior
farm club in the 1st League (Russia 3). He has fallen in depth behind Anton
Belov (2005 NHL Entry Draft) for the only U20 spot available on CSKA’s
defensive corps and will not likely get any Super League ice time before the
U20 WJC. His solid showing at the Canada-Russia Challenge tournament will likely
merit him an invitation to the U20 WJC training camp, but he will have to fight
hard to earn a roster spot. He is clearly on Gersonsky’s radar, since
the Canada-Challenge is Lyamin’s second tournament on the U20 squad this
Dmitri Plekhanov (Columbus Blue Jackets #96/2004) –
Plekhanov missed all of last season due to injury, but is widely regarded as
one of Russia’s better ’86 born defensemen. Still, the young blue
liner only played in a couple of Super League (Russia 1) games this season,
and he is not better than other competing ’86 defensemen Lyamin and Belov.
He possesses size and speed, and has already skated for Russia in one U20 tournaments,
as well as the Canada-Russia Challenge, but he will need to really impress to
merit an invitation.
Valeri Klimov (New Jersey Devils #282/2004) – The young
blue liner has impressed with his achievements thus far this season, making
Spartak Moscow’s roster early on in the year and sticking on it thus far.
After barely missing the cut last season on the U18 squad, he has finally made
the national team earlier this season, competing for Russia at a U20 Four Nations
Tournament. Klimov appears to have the mobility, maturity and reliability in
his own end to be a utility defenseman on the U20 WJC roster. Considering his
experience, he would be a safe choice by Gersonsky, and would not likely be
used at the U20 WJC, even if picked to be on the roster. He is a Ezhov type
player, but Ezhov is more effective at it.
Fringe Candidates (These players will not make the U20 WJC roster):
Dmitri Kosmachev (Columbus Blue Jackets #71/2003) – If
someone asked last season whether Kosmachev would be on Russia’s U20 squad
for the 2004, he would have been a definite " YES" without even a
second thought. However, it appears that the young defenseman has fallen into
a bit of trouble this season. He first was unable to secure a spot on CSKA’s
lineup in his third Super League season, losing out to Anton Belov. While Kiril
Lyamin also missed CSKA’s cut, he remained with the club’s immediate
reserves on the junior farm club. Kosmachev, on the other hand, was loaned by
CSKA to Torpedo Nizhni Novgorod, a club in the High League (Russia 2).
Alexander Mikhaylishin (New Jersey Devils #155/2004) –
Mikhaylishin was a surprisingly early pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, but
then again, New Jersey does like size on it’s blue line, and Mikhailshin
has plenty of that. He has, however, regressed a bit this season, unable to
make the Spartak (Moscow) opening day roster, and has spent the past several
months skating for Spartak’s junior farm club Spartak 2 in the 1st League
(Russia 3). The young blue liner brings a great work ethic and heart to the
ice, but his overall skill level and skating are just average. He will not be
a likely member of Russia’s U20 WJC squad.
- Evgeny Belashchenko (RussianProspects.com)
Related Player Profiles: . A.Belov D.Ezhov V.Klimov D.Kosmachev K.Lyamin D.Megalinsky A.Mikhailishin G.Misharin G.Panin A.Pervyshin A.Plekhanov Y.Rylov R.Teslyuk D.Vorobiev
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