|2006 U18 World Junior Championships|
Semen Varlamov accepting the MVP Award at the U18 Four Nations Tournament in Mytische Russia (Photo Source - Lokomotiv 2 Official Website/Yana Romanova)
Team Russia U18 World Junior Championships review
Courtesy of McKeen's Hockey
by Jante Abrahamsson
Team Russia showcased their skill in the preliminary round and cruised to a
comfortable second place in their group, behind only the United States, a team
which Russia pushed to its' limits in the opening game. But behind the flashes
of great individual skill, one could find the usual Russian problems of lacking
defensive awareness, sub par team play and lack of competitive drive in tight
Weaknesses that Team Canada didn't hesitate to exploit in the quarterfinal,
were their desire to win, hard skating and ability to put on pressure in the
offensive zone, completely neutralised the Russians as the game progressed.
Russia then finished off the tournament with an easy victory in the game for
5th place, against a disappointed and unfocused Swedish club. Individually,
the quick goaltender Semen Varlamov and highly skilled forwards such as Ruslan
Bashkirov, Anton Glovatsky and Andrei Popov, were the standout players while
the highly touted centre Alexander Vasyunov did not live up his, without a shed
of doubt, very high potential.
Andrei Popov (2006), LW, 6-3-2-5
Review: Made up one half of a Russian dynamic duo along with Anton
Glovatsky. The duo was then teamed up with a more defensive minded centre, such
as Maxim Mamin or Sergei Zachupeuko during the tournament. Regardless of the
guy in the middle, Popov was a constant offensive threat throughout the six
Scouting: An average sized winger out of the traditional Russian mold.
Not physical at all, takes shifts off an could disappear for large chunks of
games, but when he feels like it, he is deadly .. not the best top speed, but
has a good burst of speed for short distances and good lateral movement .. displayed
some of the best stickhandling moves in the tournament and he looks extremely
slick while handling the puck .. has a good playmaking eye as well, and could
set up his teammates with flashy opening passes when the opportunity arises
.. defensive coverage virtually non-existent .. only shows intensity from the
redline and on, but once there, you shouldn't take your eyes away from him.
Igor Zubov (2006), D, 6-0-2-2
Review: Capable Russian defensive anchor that seemed to possess some
leadership skills and was a solid presence on the Russian blueline for the whole
Scouting: Neither the smoothest or the quickest skater around, but still
managed to get from A to B, without losing too much time or looking too awkward
.. Handles the puck well and provides good outlet passes .. also possesses good
decisions making skills and rarely gets into trouble his own end .. limited
offensive upside however, although his slap shot has some boom in it, the accuracy
is way off .. doesn't have the same natural offensive instincts as many other
Russians either .. can throw a decent hit once in a while, but needs to do that
even more consistently.
Alexander Vasyunov (2006), C 6-2-2-4
Review: Was perhaps the most highly touted Russian coming into the
tournament, but left it realizing a few of his teammates have caught up with
him. Vasyunov certainly didn't make a bad impression in terms of skills displayed,
but was not the one carrying the Russian team.
Scouting: Very enigmatic player, who gets very little done when considering
the tremendous amount of tools that he possesses. A quick skater with solid
top speed, who in his best moments, almost could be appear Ovechkin-esque ..
unlike his countryman, Vasyunov only shows it once a game though .. has a wrist
shot which is almost NHL calibre already, but rarely used it for some reason
.. excellent puckhandler, but still just doesn't accomplish that much while
actually handling it .. lots of raw talent in this package, but he seriously
needs to find a way to get it all together as he right now is a player that
would do much better in a skills competition than in actual hockey games ..
very immature hockey sense.
Artem Anisimov (2006), LW, 6-3-2-5
Review: The opposite of his linemate Alexander Vasyunov in the sense
that Anisimov gets things done offensively without having to show off top end
moves all the time. Intangibles, is the key word here.
Scouting: Although he have quite decent fundamentals in terms of fairly
quick skating, a decent frame and above average puckhandling, Anisimov was far
from the mot spectacular player in the Russian offensive arsenal .. instead
he was the only pure sniper in the team, as he displayed a natural awareness
of being in the right place in the right time in front of net, a trait that
rarely could be taught .. has a fairly quick wrister that gets the job done,
mostly fires from pretty close range though .. smart player, lets his linemates
do the more fancy stuff and seeks himself a good scoring position instead ..
even wins a few battles along the boards, but like most of the Russians, lost
in his own end.
Vadim Golubtsov (2006), C/LW, 4-0-1-1
Review: Started out the tournament with a huge game against the United
States, but then faded while trying to play through an injury and also saw less
ice time as the tournament progressed. Showed that the talent is there however.
Scouting: A very smooth player in everything he does, from skating, puckhandling
and passing .. when he was healthy and on his game, he showed off some dazzling
stickhandling moves and overall good awareness, knows where he had his linemates
and could distribute the puck .. only has an average though shot and seemed
reluctant to fire away while having the chance .. the upside is definitely there,
but could have benefited from even more exposure.
Mikhail Churlyaev (2008), D, 6-0-0-0
Review: Didn't ever get in to the hot zone during the tournament,
but one could see that the potential for it was there, although this just wasn't
his time to shine.
Scouting: One could tell that he really want to be cast as an offensive,
puckmoving defenseman, which is a blessing and a curse. Likes to handle the
puck, but sometimes overhandles it .. is a strong passer, but must learn that
the option that appears to be the most creative, is not always the best one
.. he tries hard and makes solid effort every night, and his weaknesses could
be rounded out with time .. does his job in own end, but clearly that isn't
the part of his game that makes him stand out from the crowd .. has a fairly
well directed shot, but needs to add some more boom from the point.
Yuri Alexandrov (2006), D, 6-1-2-3
Review: Ended up with some pretty good numbers in the tournament,
but his overall showing was not that strong. Too many ups and downs between
games and even shifts, provided for a very uneven display by the young rearguard.
Scouting: Has enough pure skill to never look truly bad, even on an off
night. A smooth skater who reads the game fairly well defensively and gets into
the right position most of the time .. could however suddenly turn into the
Mr Hyde version of himself and playing very reckless for no apparent reason
and totally lose control of his passing game .. doesn't shay away from getting
his hands dirty physically and shows signs of being a good pointman on the powerplay.,
as he possesses a decently accurate and hard slap shot .. but he also does not
seem to have that extra drop of pure offensive creativity that makes really
great offensive defensemen stand out.
Ruslan Bashkirov (2007), C, 6-6-2-8
Review: Wasn't very talked about coming into the tournament, but
that was about to change very soon. The Russian centre, with a mullet hair cut
and shining white gloves, managed to mix entertainment value and actual offensive
output, in a stellar manner.
Scouting: Is about on par with Vasyunov in terms of raw offensive skill
and talent, the difference is that Bashkirov have more of a competitive drive
to actually go out and make something happen on the ice .. strong skater overall
and especially his lateral movement is excellent, looses his opponents with
quick, nifty little twists and turns and makes it look easy too .. very creative
in the offensive zone and could make any type of play happen, has the vision
and poise of a great playmaker, but is just as good, if not better, at finishing
it off himself .. very slick with the puck and possesses and wide arsenal of
dekes .. big and strong enough to also simply cover the puck well when required
.. despite not being much a factor in his own end, Bashkirov was easily the
best Russian in the tournament.
Vladimir Zharkov (2006), LW, 6-0-0-0
Review: Had some good advertising buzz surrounding his name before
the tournament, but during it, he really had to look to find Vladimir Zharkov,
hidden on the Russian fourth line and receiving little ice time in key situations.
Scouting: Played with defensive minded players throughout the tournament
and killed penalties as much as he played even strength. It should be noted
however that he didn't display any bad attitude towards his assignment, at least
not on the ice .. worked hard, battled and showed some good defensive awareness
while on the penalty kill .. showed flashes of offensive skill, as his first
skating strides are very quick and so is his wrist shot, but Zharkov didn't
get that many opportunities to shine offensively, but the feeling is that he
might could give, given the chance.
Semen Varlamov (2006), G,
Review: Did not have an easy job, being the last outpost in a team
consisting of forwards with questionable defensive work ethic and a sometimes
erratic defensive corps. But Semen Varlamov always gave the Russian team a chance
to win despite that.
Scouting: An smooth, agile goalie who moves around well in his crease
and is rarely caught out of position .. plays a strong butterfly game and possesses
some great reflexes .. his quick legs makes him almost impossible to beat down
low for shooters and his glove hand is magnetic, it catches everything within
its perimeter .. the fifth hole might be his weak spot though and his rebound
control could be polished further .. still one of the absolutely best netminders
of the tournament.
Anton Glovatsky (2006), RW, 6-4-2-6
Review: Had very strong chemistry in the offensive zone with Andrei
Popov for the whole tournament and much thanks to that, Glovatsky ended up being
the second best scorer on the Russian team, despite perhaps a little less flash
than his linemate.
Scouting: While many Russians just got out there and deked until they
inevitably lost the puck, Glovatsky tried a more thinking mans game .. good
offensive hockey sense, smooth in all his actions and generally has a knack
of anticipation what's is going to happen on the ice .. can set up his teammates
as well as seemingly effortlessly get scoring chances for himself .. as most
Russians, shaky defensive coverage, but get points for at least showing hints
of trying .. has an accurate wrist shot and of course handles the puck with
Mikhail Glukhov (2006), RW, 6-1-0-1
Review: Provided flashes of brilliance as the third link in the line
with Vasyunov and Asimov for most of the tournament. It all ended in disaster
however, as he took an unnecessary penalty late in the quarterfinal game, which
allowed Canada to score a back breaking 3-1 goal in the third period.
Scouting: Quick and very slippery skater who is always hard to catch,
despite not having the blistering extra gear .. very good with his feet as well
as with his stick in small and tight spaces, allowing him to create time and
space for himself offensively .. doesn't display much of a shooting ability
and could find better ways to utilize his teammates at times .. not the best
decision maker and could end up stickhandling himself to death on occasion ..
poor defensive coverage and the late penalty against Canada shows lacking hockey
sense and maturity .. does however possess enough raw skill to make him worth
at least one extra look.