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Russian Prospects 2006 NHL Entry Draft Preview
Final Post U18 WJC Ranking
The official rankings have been determined by our scouts with the input from Russian Junior, Elite and KHL coaches.
Top Eligible Players
+/- Player Name Pos. Ht. Wt.
Birthday Hockey School
1 0 Alexandrov, Yuri D 6'1" 178 1988-06-24 Severstal (Cherepovets)
Alexandrov delivered a strong performance for Team Russia and was hands down the squad's top defenseman. His experience in the Super League, combined with his international performance places him right at the top of the RussianProspects Final ratings. When comparing him to Russia's recent top defensive prospects, Alexandrov reminds of Volchenkov, but skates better and is more maneuverable than the latter. Alexandrov still needs to bulk up and learn to better play physical hockey to continue his development into a top defensive prospect.
2 1 Varlamov, Semen G 6'1" 174 1988-04-27 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Semen Varlamov is the brightest goaltender to come out of Russia definitely since Ilya Bryzgalov. He has already been Russia's U18 squad's starter for two seasons and will inherit the starting role on the U20 squad for the next two years. He has yet to earn any professional experience in the Super Leauge, but Varlamov has proven his worth on the international arena. One area for improvement for Varlamov is is positioning. He moves very quickly in the crease and possesses a quick butterfly. Additionally, he possesses a very strong work ethic. The biggest concern regarding Varlamov's development into a blue chip netminder is the lack of an estbalished hockey school in Yaroslavl and on the Russian national team. While his Yaroslavl counterpart Kasutin went to Finland to be schooled, Varlamov is completely "home grown" thus far.
3 -1 Popov, Andrei RW 6'1" 187 1988-07-15 Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
Popov remains the forward with the most potential to come out of Russia in 2006. The young winger is already performing well at the professional adult level in the High League (Russia 2) with Traktor. While he did not enjoy a very successful showing at the U18 World Junior Championships, a lot of it had to do with not having a consistent line, with his center Mamin constantly being moved back to defense due to Russia's defensive vows. Popov possesses impressive size and skill to go along with a developed ability to play in traffic and use his size. However, to continue his development, Popov needs to use his line mates better and to become more aggressive.
4 0 Kulemin, Nikolai LW 6'0" 200 1986-07-14 Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
Nikolai Kulemin's stock has skyrocketed this season due to his success with Metallurg Magnitogorsk, as well as his performance on Russia's U20 national team at the U20 WJC. Nikolai Kulemin is an able third line work horse who works hard for every inch of the ice surface. He brings a physical edge to his team and a strong work ethic. He has shown a scoring touch, especially on the national team, but his scoring success will largely depend on his line mates. Remember, even NHL tough guy Chris Simon was a scoring threat with the Washington Capitals when paired with a capable center. His style will transfer well to the NHL and considering Kulemin's achievements on the international arena, including the World Championships squad in Latvia, he is one of the top Russians players eligible for the 2006 NHL Entry draft.
5 5 Bumagin, Alexander RW 6'0" 165 1987-03-01 Lada Togliatti
Alexander Bumagin was one of the top 10 Russians eligible for the 2005 NHL Entry Draft but due to the lack of a transfer agreement between the NHL and the Russian professional hockey's governing body, he went overlooked through the seven rounds. Since the draft Bumagin established himself as one of the most gifted up and coming young Russian players to make an impact in the Super League. At just 19, the young forward became Lada's leader not only in scoring, but also with his presence on the ice. Making this achievement even more impressive, he started making an impact even before the club's financial implosion and the subsequent departure of numerous NHL players. Bumagin's game is mature beyond his age and he makes up for his lack of size with skill and vision. At this point Bumagin may not be as "polished" of a forward prospect as Popov or Vasyunov, but he has already proven himself in the Super League and possesses a solid foundation for further development under the supervision of a capable coach. If not for the size difference and the physical edge, Bumagin may even be above Kulemin in the rankings.
6 -1 Anisimov, Artem C 6'4" 191 1988-05-24 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Artem Anisimov finished his draft year off with an average performance at the U18 WJC. The young center did not deliver a consistent performance, impressing in the game against the Czechs, but failing to make a significant impact in the games either against Canada or the US. He understands the game well and has an impressive vision of the ice. Additionally, he possesses a very impressive wrist shot which is one of his main weapons. Still, besides the strengths, Anisimov needs to bulk up and improve his physical presence, as the young prospect hardly ever competes next to the boards. His lack of mass has also hurt him at the face-off circle, as he just doesn't yet have the upper body strength. Still, while Anisimov is more raw than some of the other prospects, he has shown a wealth of potential at the international tournaments and even found himself making his Super League debut this season for Lokomotiv.
7 0 Vasyunov, Alexander LW 6'0" 185 1988-04-22 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Alexander Vasyunov was largely expected to move up in the rankings after the 2006 U18 WJC, but his disappointing performance there has kept the young prospect in seventh place. The Vasyunov- Anisimov combination was supposed to be Russia's most productive unit, but instead Vasyunov scored just two goals and those two came in the 8:0 trouncing of the lowly Belarus squad during Russia's first game of the tournament. Vasyunov is probably one of the top pure snipers available in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft from anywhere in the world. He has dominated at the Russian junior hockey level with Lokomotiv 2, performing far above any of his counterparts. However, the widely accepted concern is how well will he be able to adapt to professional hockey and will he continue to develop and grow? Currently he reminds of a young Buffalo Sabres forward Maxim Afinogenov and Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Alexander Suglobov. Like those players at the same age, he is very active on the ice, fighting hard against the boards and skating hard everywhere. Unfortunately, as was the case with Suglobov and Afinogenov, there isn't much thought behind his effort and often nothing comes of it.
8 -2 Vishnevsky, Ivan D 6'0" 172 1988-08-18 Barnaul, Russia
Unlike many other Russians Ivan Vishnevsky has secured himself a likely fairly high draft position by coming over to North America and performing well in the QJMHL. The young forward hardly skated for the Russian national team, only skating at the tournament in Mytische, Russia and missing the U18 WJC due to injury. Still, while the U18 WJC is an important avenue for many Russians to showcase their skills to NHL scouts and experts, Vishnevsky already achieved this goal by skating in North America and the tournament would have only marginally impacted his draft stock. Vishnevsky is an offensive defenseman in the mold of Sergei Gonchar and Oleg Tverdovsky. To look back to the younger generation, he is similar in style to Kiril Koltsov, though the latter handles the puck better. The young defenseman slipped in the ratings due to his absence from the U18 WJC and some concern regarding his consistency on the ice.
9 4 Makarov, Igor RW 6'0" 180 1987-09-19 Soviet Wings (Moscow)
Igor Makarov did not have an even season, but he finished strong in the High League (Russia 2) playoffs with the Soviet Wings. The young prospect entered the season with hefty expectations after leading Russia in scoring at the 2005 U18 WJC, but he failed to build on his success by struggling with the Soviet Wings and missing the cut for the U20 WJC squad this past December. The strong end season run has raised Makarov's stock once again. A speedy forward who is not afraid of traffic, Makarov would make a capable 2nd liner. However, the young prospect does need to come to play on every shift at any level - something that got him into trouble with the Soviet Wings coaching staff early in the season when he did not perform at the High League level and did not take his demotion very well.
10 -2 Churilov, Gennady C 6'0" 174 1987-05-05 Metallurg Mg.
There were significant concerns last summer after Churilov concluded a mediocre season in the QJMHL and headed back to Russia. The concerns largely revolved around Churilov's ability to break into into the lineup of as wealthy club as Lokomotiv. Fortunately, concerns regarding the young forward's ice time did not materialize, as he received plenty of it centering Lokomotiv's second line. Churilov was largely successful and productive during his Super League debut, but despite his success, the additional concerns regarding him being a typical "soft" European forward have persisted and the young center did little to countradict this perception. He does see the ice well and is a capable passer, but his hesitation to play in traffic and fight at the boards are his most apparent downsides. While the new NHL is faster, a player will still have to be able to handle physical contact and this is the reason why Churilov, despite his impressive potential is only ranked 10th among the Russian players.
11 -2 Sopin, Alexei RW 5'11" 191 1987-03-04 Dynamo (Moscow)
Alexei Sopin was another highly rated player overlooked at last year's draft due to the differences between the NHL and the Russian professional hockey ruling body. The young forward has a lot of potential and proved his ability to play at the Super League level earlier in the season when he skated for Dynamo (Moscow). Sopin was subsequently loaned by Dynamo to the High League (Russia 2)'s HC Kapitan from Stupino, Russia. There he really made an impact and finished second on the team in scoring. Sopin impresses with his great speed and scoring ability, though his "European" tendencies of lots of speed, but a lack of a physical presence. We believe Sopin has a lot of potential and will further prove himself in the Super League and on the U20 national squad next season.
12 6 Shirokov, Sergei LW 5'10" 158 1986-03-10 CKSA Moscow
Why this player wasn't picked at the past two NHL Entry Drafts is a mystery. This is especially the case after his impressive performance at the 2005 U20 World Junior Championships. We remain very high on this young prospect and believe he has a bright future wherever he ends up playing hockey. This season he further strengthened his case by finally making a successful Super League debut. The young prospect has been a great presence at the international level for several seasons, but his strong play against professional players in the Super League really kept him on the prospect radar. Shirokov was an impact player with CSKA and meshed well together on the same line with St. Louis Blues prospect Konstantin Lemtyugov. Shirokov can be described as a "poor man's" Sergei Samsonov. He is not very tall, but well built and that really helps him when fighting in traffic and at the boards. While he is an overage player at 20 years of age, Shirokov performed better than a lot of 18 year olds at the same age, but was inexplicably not drafted.
13 -2 Zharkov, Vladimir RW 6'2" 183 1988-01-10 CSKA (Moscow)
Vladimir Zharkov is a player with a lot of potential, but who is a bit of a wild card and a project pick, as were some other Russians in the years past, including Mikhail Yakubov, Alexander Perezhogin, and Alexander Polushin. The young player works hard in the corners and drives well to the net, but he is not a full fledged power forward. He has already proved his ability at the Super League level with CSKA. In some aspects of his game Zharkov reminds of Los Angeles Kings forward Alexander Frolov. However, Zharkov still needs to improve his decision making and his defensive work. Overall, we are a bit more hesitant to proclaim Zharkov as one of the top Russian prospects as were Alexander Naurov and Dmitri Chernykh over hyped a couple of years back and haven't been close to meeting the hefty expectations. We believe he is a very promising prospect who is a project selection for his club that could pay significant dividends.
14 -2 Tikhonov, Viktor RW 6'2" 180 1988-05-12 CSKA (Moscow)
This is another project pick out of Russia. A bit less is known in the regular circles about this young player, who is the grandson of the legendary Russian hockey coach Viktor Tikhonov. Viktor is one of those players who if he just had that one extra element would be a top notch element. For him, this element is skating and he really needs to improve this area of his game to move up. However, despite his skating, Tikhonov has played very well on a weak team in the High League (Russia 2) against professionals. Furthermore, he may be appealing to NHL management because of the time he already spent in North America and his ability to speak English. His inability to gauge the interest of Russia's U18 national squad is a concern, but his achievements in the High League due impress.
15 17 Kasutin, Ivan G 6'0" 176 1986-10-17 Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Finally, the experts are recognizing what we have been saying for more than a year: Ivan Kasutin is the real thing and is one of the most skilled goaltenders to come out of Russia in a long time. Kasutin made a great professional debut in the High League (Russia 2), skating for HC Dizel in Penza. He led the club to a successful playoff run and was third goalie for Russia's squad at the U20 WJC. Despite his unsuccessful 20 minutes in a friendly game at the WJC that cost him the back up spot, given more of a chance Kasutin could have performed well for Team Russia even as the squad's starter. Coming from the Finnish school of goaltending, Kasutin is technically sound. He is also strong mentally and is very confident and calm in his abilities. If the young netminder continues to advance at the same pace as he is now, he will become one of the premier Russian goalies within a handful of years.
16 -2 Antosik, Igor C 6'3" 185 1987-03-24 Dynamo (Moscow)
Igor Antosik made his professional debut on HC Kapitan (Stupino), the same club with Alexeii Sopin. The young center developed into a face off specialist and has been able to put together a relatively productive season despite skating on the fourth line for most of the time. It is some cause for concern that Antosik has not been able to secure a higher spot in the lineup of such a week High League (Russia 2) club, but a lot likely had to do with his age and his "loaner" status, rather than his skill level. He remains one of the top Russian 87 born players available, but despite his potential, a lot will depend on his ability to return to Dynamo and make an impact in 2006. Reminding of Andrei Nikolishin in his blue collar approach to the game and his strength at the face-off circle, we believe Antosik is amongst the top 20 Russian players eligible for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
17 -2 Zubov, Igor D 6'0" 183 1988-07-04 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Zubov is a reliable, steady blue liner who does not stand out in any particular category, but does not fall through anywhere either. He reminds of Tyutin during his days with SKA (St. Petersburg), where he fulfilled primarily defensive responsibilities and similarly did his job well, but did not stand out in any particular area of play. Zubov lost some ground in the ratings due to his mediocre performance at the U18 WJC. There, he failed to meet expectations and physically was unable to compete with the bigger North American squads, over holding the puck, even faltering in certain one on one situations. Still, the raw size and ability is there and Zubov is among the top Russian blue liners available in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, though unfortunately the talent level drops off dramatically after Alexandrov and Vyshnevsky.
18 2 Shvalev, Alexei D 6'3" 198 1987-05-25 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
Schvalev really came out of nowhere this season, beating out 87 born Anikienko for the U20 spot in Lokomotiv's main lineup. The young defenseman skates well and also possesses a pretty good shot from the blue line. He seems to understand the game well, but at times tries too much and instead of keeping things simple, aims for that low probability feed. Still, we believe it is better to see the plays developing, but learn to keep things simple, rather than not see things at all, so Schvalev definitely deserves the positive remarks regarding his vision on the ice. Overall, Schvalev does not particularly stand out in any category, but he is developing into a reliable defenseman and we believe is one of the top eligible Russian blueliners eligible for the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
19 12 Ketov, Evgeny LW 5'10" 176 1986-01-17 Lada (Togliatti)
Evgeny Ketov really came on out of virtually nowhere this season. The product of the Lada hockey system has really impressed when given additional opportunity after Lada's financial crisis that thrust the junior players into the forefront. He has a great sense for the net and also shoots the puck very well. While not a top line sniper, Ketov has something special about him. He doesn't hesitate to crash the net and fights hard in the corners. While not one of the impact scorers on Russia's squad at the U20 WJC, Ketov's presence on the team is a strong indicator of the kind of success he has enjoyed during the 2005-06 season. This young prospect is most definitely a sleeper pick, but considering is maturity and rapid growth, he deserves attention.
20 NR Zachupeiko, Sergei LW 6'1" 180 1988-01-05 HC Orsk
An aggressive power forward, Zachupeyko is a newcomer to the ratings and closes out the top 20 list. The young forward sees the ice well, capable of making a nice feed, as well as drive to the net and attempt to score himself. He works hard and possesses an above average top speed. Zachupeyko enjoyed a strong performance at the U18 WJC, being one of the few Russian players to deliver an even performance throughout the tournament.
21 13 Golubtsov, Vadim RW 6'0" 176 1988-01-02 Lipetsk, Russia
Golubtsov delivered a solid performance at the U18 WJC. The young forward has good character, but is unfortunately is not naturally gifted, though he possesses a strong work ethic and has developed significantly due his own drive. He has also become one of the Team Russia coach's trusted players, with the coach spending individual time with Golubtsov. Still, despite his significant development this season, Golubtsov's upside is not very high, but like Nikolai Kulemin, he can develop into a reliable checking line, working forward.
22 NR Tulupov, Kirill D 6'3" 220 1988-04-23 Spartak (Moscow)
Tulupov should be familiar to the fans of the Canadian junior leagues, as he has returned to Russia after spending some time in North America. Tulupov stands out with his impressive size and the physical presence he brings to the ice. He skates well and works hard on the ice, but had some difficulties adjusting positionally to the bigger North American ice surface. Tulupov made the most of his U18 WJC opportunity and despite a mediocre performance showed off his size and significant potential.
23 19 Kablukov, Ilya C 6'3" 183 1988-01-18 CSKA (Moscow)
Kablukov mostly played well at the U18 WJC, but his lack of production at the tournament is a significant concern. 0 goals and 0 assists, despite his defensive role, is a poor result by any standards. Kablukov does work hard and is capable of making a nice feed, though he does need to improve his puckhandling skills. Some of the lack of Kablukov's success could be attributed to him primarily working ont he same line with Vladimir Zharkov, who did not have a very good U18 WJC tournament.
24 3 Kalyanin, Alexander RW 6'1" 198 1987-09-24 Traktor (Chelyabinsk)
25 -9 Kalimulin, Marat D 6'0" 169 1988-01-08 Lada (Togliatti)
26 -9 Belov, Anton D 6'3" 189 1986-07-26 CSKA Moscow
27 -6 Glebov, Oleg LW 6'1" 198 1988-08-19 CSKA (Moscow)
28 16 Kucheryavenko, Alex C 6'0" 180 1987-08-27 Rus (Moscow)
29 -10 Zyuzin, Dmitri RW 6'0" 176 1987-10-21 Salavat Yulayev (Ufa)
30 -8 Skorykh, Anton C 6'4" 185 1987-02-23 Lada Togliatti
31 NR Belokon, Sergei LW 5'11" 176 1988-08-25 Soviet Wings (Moscow)
32 -4 Zhukov, Valeri D 6'1" 180 1988-02-08 Torpedo (Nizhni Novgorod)
33 12 Glovatsky, Anton RW NA NA 1988 Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
34 NR Galimov, Stanislav G 6'2" 176 1988-02-12 Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
35 -10 Panin, Grigory D 6'0" 167 1985-11-24 Lada Togliatti
36 -7 Mamin, Maxim RW 6'0" 176 1988-05-17 Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
37 -13 Ryabev, Alexander RW 6'0" 165 1988-08-24 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
38 -15 Kiryukhin, Andrey RW 6'0" 196 1987-08-04 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
39 -13 Maximkin, Ivan D 6'3" 183 1988-03-05 Lada (Togliatti)
40 -10 Mayorov, Konstantin C 6'2" 180 1988-05-25 Lada (Togliatti)
42 -9 Voronkov, Vladimir C 6'1" 183 1988-02-15 HC Lipetsk
43 -8 Vinogradov, Vasily D 6'1" 183 1988-05-12 Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
44 -8 Davydov, Denis D 6'0" 180 1988-08-27 CSKA (Moscow)
45 -8 Gordeev, Artem C 6'2" 202 1988-09-15 Salavat Yulayev (Ufa)
46 -8 Doronin, Pavel D 6'1" 187 1988-08-21 Salavat Yulayev (Ufa)
47 -8 Orlenko, Kirill C 5'11" 156 1988-03-22 Lada (Togliatti)
48 -8 Boldyrev, Ivan D 6'4" 198 1988 Lokomotiv (Yaroslavl)
49 -8 Mereskin, Alexander RW 6'3" 183 1987-12-03 Spartak (Moscow)
50 -7 Ishmametyev, Alexei D 6'0" 172 1988-06-17 Metallurg (Magnitogorsk)
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