CHL Power Rankings: Top 10 Russians to play in the Canada-Russia Series

Daren Millard, Jeff Marek and Sam Cosentino break down some top prospects, including Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads.

The newly named CIBC Canada-Russia Series begins Monday. It is one of the final times that Canadians and Russians get an opportunity to impress their respective national hockey execs before world junior camp invitations are handed out.

There is a long list of illustrious Canadians to have played in the event, but Russia has been known to send some less than stellar squads over the years. Sometimes it was because the Russian Federation didn’t want to tip their hand a couple months prior to the world juniors, other times it was because top players had big roles in the KHL. But that problem has been resolved in recent years, and fans can expect to get a healthy dose of players who will suit up for Team Russia at the 2017 world juniors.

Despite a somewhat spotty history in the event, there have been some outstanding Russians who’ve skated for the team as it’s barnstormed across Canada and have gone on to good pro careers.

10. Vladislav Namestnikov (2010, ’11: 1A in 2 GP)
Born in Russia, but groomed mostly in North America, Namestnikov spent two years in London, another two years playing for Syracuse in the AHL before becoming an NHL regular. The Tampa Bay Lightning winger who is approaching the 150 game plateau, had his best season in 2015-16, putting up 14 goals and 35 points in 80 games played. In 2010, Namestnikov was part of the only Russian to win the series.

CIBC Canada-Russia Series

9. Nikita Nesterov (2011, ’12: 2A in 11 GP)
About as big a character and personality as you’ll find, the fun-loving Russian left his mark on several CHL players during two years playing in the Canada-Russia Series. Nesterov played big minutes in all situations, showing great physical presence, throwing massive hits all over the ice, while also keying Russia’s penalty kill. He helped Russia to a silver medal at the 2013 world juniors and is just coming into his own in his third year with the Lightning.

8. Valeri Nichushkin (2012: 0 Pts in 5 GP)
Came over as an underage player amidst plenty of hype about his NHL future. While he didn’t put up any points in the series, it was easy to see Nichuskin’s immense talent. He ended up winning a bronze as an underager before being selected 10th overall by Dallas in 2013. After a couple of promising years with the Stars he has returned to Russia to play in the KHL.

7. Andrei Vasilevskiy (2012: 1-2, 3.01, .904)
One of a handful of Russians to have played in three world junior tournaments, winning a silver in 2012 and consecutive bronzes in ’13 and ’14. His story took an interesting turn last season after replacing Ben Bishop to help Tampa Bay to an Eastern Conference final appearance.


Team Russia 2016              
Name Pos Team Height Weight DOB Hometown NHL Draft
Roman Krikunenko C HK Ryazan (VHL) 5.08 159 97-12-27 Yaroslavl, Rus,  
Kiril Urakov LW Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL) 6 187 97-12-21 Izhevsk, Rus,  
Danila Kvartalnov LW CSKA Moscow (KHL) 6.01 183 97-07-07 Voskresensk, Rus,  
Nikita Korostelev RW Sarnia Sting (OHL) 6.01 201 97-02-08 Moscow, Rus,  
Klim Kostin RW Dynamo Moscow (KHL) 5.09 189 99-05-05 Penza, Rus,  
Alexander Volkov LW SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL) 6 192 97-08-02 Moscow, Rus,  
Nikita Dynyak RW Dynamo St. Petersburg (VHL) 6 207 97-08-06 St. Petersburg, Rus,  
Kirill Belyaev LW Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk (KHL) 6.01 218 97-07-18 Surgut, Rus,  
Pavel Karnaukhov LW Zvezda Chekhov (VHL) 6.02 211 97-03-15 Moscow, Rus,  
Nikita Li RW Spartak Moscow (KHL) 6 176 97-04-26 Moscow, Rus,  
German Rubtsov C Vityaz Podolsk (KHL) 6 185 98-06-27 Chekhov, Rus, PHI, 22nd, 2016
Yakov Trenin C Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) 6.02 193 97-01-13 Chelyabinsk NSH, 55th, 2015
Denis Alexeyev C HK Ryazan (VHL) 6 183 97-10-01 Gubkin, Rus,  
Danil Yurtaikin LW HK Ryazan (VHL) 5.09 170 97-07-01 Belovo, Rus,  
Vitalii Abramov RW Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL) 5.09 172 98-05-08 Chelyabinsk CLB, 65th, 2016
Dmitry Sokolov RW Sudbury Wolves (OHL) 6 208 98-04-14 Omsk, Rus, MIN, 196th, 2016
Nikita Popugaev LW Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 6.05 202 98-11-20 Moscow, Rus, 2017
Artur Tyanulin RW Ottawa 67’s (OHL) 5.1 173 97-01-20 Kazan, Rus,  
Dmitry Zaitsev D Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL) 6.01 186 98-01-18 Togliatti, Rus, WSH, 207th, 2016
Sergey Zborovskiy D Regina Pats (WHL) 6.04 195 97-02-21 Moscow NYR, 79th, 2015
Artem Chmykhov D CSKA Moscow (KHL) 6.02 198 97-11-28 Kostroma, Rus,  
Kamil Fazylzyanov D Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (KHL) 6 198 97-10-31 Kazan, Rus,  
Egor Zaitsev D Dynamo Balashikha (VHL) 6.01 194 98-05-03 Moscow, Rus,  
Grigory Dronov D Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL) 6.02 207 98-01-10 Magnitogorsk, Rus,  
Alexander Shchemerov D Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg (KHL) 6 196 97-06-02 Ekaterinburg  
Ruslan Petrishchev D Toros Neftekamsk (VHL) 6.03 189 97-08-22 Raduzhny, Rus,  
Timur Fatkullin D Metallurg Novokuznetsk (KHL) 6.02 203 97-02-10 Chelyabinsk, Rus,  
Artem Volkov D Dynamo Balashikha (VHL) 6.01 183 97-04-25 Tver, Rus,  
Artem Minulin D Swift Current Broncos (WHL) 6.02 202 98-10-01 Tyumen, Rus, 2017
Mikhail Sergachev D Windsor Spitfired (OHL) 6.03 212 98-06-25 Nizhnekamsk MTL, 9th, 2016
Anton Krasotkin G HK Ryazan (VHL) 6 178 97-05-20 Yaroslavl, Rus,  
Vladislav Sukhachev G Chelmet Chelyabinsk (VHL) 5.09 181 98-05-14 Chelyabinsk, Rus,  
Konstantin Volkov G SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL) 6.03 211 97-09-20 Murmansk, Rus, NSH, 168th, 2016
*Teams listed are those they’ve played most games with this season            

6. Dmitry Kulikov (2008: 1A in 1 GP)
Kulikov spent his draft year in Drummondville before being selected 14th overall by Florida in 2009. His one CHL season included a game in the Canada-Russia Series, a trip to the Top Prospects game and a spirited effort at the 2009 MasterCard Memorial Cup. He has become a stalwart NHL defenceman on pace to pass the 500 games played plateau this season.

5. Alexander Radulov (2004: ’05: 3G, 4A in 3GP)
Radulov’s hockey career has been well documented dating back to his 2006 Memorial Cup title with the Quebec Remparts. There was plenty of consternation over his participation. Patrick Roy, who coached Radulov in Quebec, felt his star player was playing too many games in too short a span and held him out of the second game in Moncton. The Montreal Canadiens star was part of back-to-back losses to Canada in the 2005 and 2006 world juniors.

MasterCard Memorial Cup; Quebec Remparts; 2006
Alexander Radulov and the Quebec Remparts won the 2006 Memorial Cup. Radulov was named tournament MVP.

4. Semyon Valramov (2005: 0-2, 5.28, .881)
The Russians were overmatched in the 2005 series, and Varlamov was victimized for 11 goals on 85 shots through one game each against the QMJHL and OHL. But he was given a half game in the final contest of the series against Team WHL and stopped 15 of 16 shots in what turned out to be the closest game of the series, a 3-1 win for Team WHL. Varlamov ended up going 23rd overall to Washington in the 2006 NHL draft. He is now in his sixth season as Colorado’s No. 1 netminder.

3. Nikolai Kulemin (2004: 2A in 6GP)
In just the second year of the series, Kulemin showed his abilities by putting up two assists on the three goals Team Russia scored against the OHL in their two meetings. A second round pick to Toronto in 2006, Kulemin came over to play with the Leafs in the 2008-09 season and has never looked back. He is approaching 600 NHL games and has been a part of Russia’s national program in just about every international event there is.

2. Artemi Panarin (2010: 2G, 1A in 6GP)
Panarin looked to be too slight of frame to ever compete in the NHL, but he did show glimpses of high-end skill in the 2010 series. He scored the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over Team QMJHL to complete a sweep of the Q and scored again in a thrilling 7-6 win over Team WHL to seal the first ever series win for the Russians. And, of course, he won the Calder Trophy with Chicago last season after putting up 77 points.

2017 NHL Draft; prospects; rankings; Top 31; Jeff Marek; mock draft; Sportsnet
Look for Sportsnet’s 2017 NHL Draft Rankings all season long.

1. Nikita Kucherov (2011: 4G, 3A in 6GP)
Kucherov would eventually wind up in Rouyn-Noranda after a pit-stop through Quebec with the Remparts. He was brilliant in the 2011 world U-18 tourney, putting up 21 points in just 7 games. He followed that up with a strong showing in the 2011 Canada-Russia Series—his four goals and seven points are still Russian series records. Kucherov has since become one of the top forwards in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.

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