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Author: Jante Abrahamsson (McKeens Hockey)Date: 04/28/2006
U18 Team Russia Player Detailed Scouting Evaluations

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 games.

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.

SCOUTING NOTES:
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 Russian games.
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 tournament.
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 elegance.

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.


Related Player Profiles: . Y.Alexandrov A.Anisimov R.Bashkirov M.Churlyaev A.Glovatsky M.Glukhov V.Golubtsov A.Popov S.Varlamov A.Vasyunov V.Zharkov I.Zubov
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