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Author: Alessandro Seren RossoDate: 08/06/2009
Ivan Hlinka Tournament preview

2009 U18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament

As August comes, usually it's Ivan Hlinka Tournament's time! This year team Russia has high hopes for a gold medal at the tourney, considering the abundance of talent they boast from their 1992 draft class. Although injuries will leave Russia without the services of Evgeny Kuznetsov and Roman Berdnikov, two of the top players from the ’92 age group, the addition of 1994-born phenom Mikhail Grigorenko should bolster an already powerful line-up. Last year, Vladimir Plyuschev’s Russian squad from the ’91 class won the silver medal after losing to Canada in the finals.

Sergei Kostenko (Metallurg Novokuznetsk), Kirill Brashkin (Lada, Togliatti), Pavel Suchkov (Red Army)

Perennially a position of weakness on Russian teams, the goaltending situation is again an area of concern, although last year’s tandem of Igor Bobkov (Anaheim Mighty Ducks) and Dmitri Shikin fared quite well in back-stopping their team to a silver medal. The starter duties will be split between 2011 (late 92 born) eligible, undersized Pavel Suchkov from CSKA Moscow, and Lada's Kirill Brashkin, while Sergei Kostenko will most likely start the tournament as the third string goaltender.

Stefan Stepanov (PHK Krylya Sovetov Moscow), Ivan Gavrilenko (Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Alexander Savoskin (PHK Krylya Sovetov Moscow), Alexei Marchenko (Red Army), Viktor Postnikov (Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Sergei Ilminsky (Dynamo Moscow), Artur Amirov (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl), Vitaly Zotov (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl), Roman Rukavishnikov (Atlant Mytischi), Ildar Isangulov (Salavat Yulaev Ufa)

Many interesting players in here. Alexei Marchenko is probably the best of the crop as the offensive defenseman has constantly been on of the top-scoring blue liners for Russia-92. Gifted with a very good skating and an excellent hockey sense, Marchenko will be probably the team's leader defenseman.

There are many interesting players in this group, although CSKA's offensive defenceman Alexei Marchenko is considered the top prospect. Blessed with great skating ability and tremendous hockey sense, Marchenko has consistently been a top point producer in his age class, and will probably be Russia’s number one defenseman at the tournament.

Another interesting player is Stefan Stepanov, who has North American experience, having spent half of last season with the Dallas Stars AAA farm team. Stepanov is an offensive defenceman with good skating ability, combined with great hockey sense and skills, which allows him to bring the puck up and join the rush with ease. He needs to bulk up, but he has the potential to become an impact NHL player. Stepanov is 2011 eligible, as he was born in November 1992.

Other notable players are Dynamo's Sergei Ilminsky and Lokomotiv's Vitaly Zotov, while Viktor Postnikov's slap shot might cause some havoc amongst the opposition.

Vladislav Namestnikov (Khimik Voskresensk), Vladislav Kartaev (Salavat Yulaev Ufa), Nail Yakupov (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk), Alexander Komisarchuk (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl), Roman Lyubimov (Red Army), Mikhail Grigorenko (Red Army), Pavel Kulikov (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk), Bogdan Potekhin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Kirill Kabanov (Salavat Yulaev Ufa), Evgeny Grigorenko (Metallurg Magnitogorsk), Stanislav Galiev (Indiana Ice - USA), Sergei Barbashev (Red Army), Ainars Podzinsh (PHK Krylya Sovetov Moscow), Ivan Telegin (Metallurg Novokuznetsk), Emil Galimov (Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk)

In the forwards area it's a tad easier to spot the good ones. Anyone knows Kirill Kabanov and without much doubts he'll be the team's star and top scorer. Unfortunately he won't be joined in the first line by the other big talent Evgeny Kuznetsov as he's out with a non specified injury. In the first line the player recently moved to Salavat Yulaev Ufa will be probably paired with center Vladislav Namestnikov, a smart player who likes to score when it matters, and USHL champion Stanislav Galiev, yet another player who'll be most likely picked up in 2010's first round.

If these players will form the first line, then the second might be made up of Sergei Barbashev, Ivan Telegin and Ainars Podzinsh. Barbashev and Podzinsh are two very good scorers which good nose for the net. Telegin recently broke his contract with Metallurg Novokuznetsk in order to play in the OHL. Barbashev though plays with Namestnikov for two years already in the national team so there can be some surprises.

It will be interesting to see which role will have the two younger players, Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko. Yakupov is a late 1993 born who can score with ease thanks to his technique, acceleration and smartness, while Grigorenko is a sized center with excellent playmaking abilities. Having a player so young playing for the U-18 national team it’s a very rare thing. Both players can be already thought on pace for the #1 seed on 2012 NHL entry draft.

It's a really intriguing crop of forwards here as any other players might have what it takes to decide a game and that most likely will end up at least in the finals.

Related Player Profiles: . A.Amirov S.Barbashev R.Berdnikov I.Bobkov K.Brashkin S.Galiev E.Galimov I.Gavrilenko M.Grigorenko E.Grigorenko S.Ilminsky I.Isangulov K.Kabanov V.Kartaev A.Komisarchuk S.Kostenko P.Kulikov E.Kuznetsov R.Lyubimov A.Marchenko V.Namestnikov A.Podzinsh V.Postnikov B.Potekhin R.Rukavishnikov A.Savoskin D.Shikin S.Stepanov P.Suchkov I.Telegin N.Yakupov V.Zotov
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