Three players to watch for Team Russia at the 2021 WJC
Yaroslav Askarov, G: Last year’s experience at the WJC has been the only valley in his game over the last two-plus seasons. Reluctant to play younger players, last year’s coach Valery Bragin has been replaced by Igor Larionov. Add to that another year of growth both mentally and physically and the added bonus of continued KHL play, and Askarov projects to be one of the top goalies of the event. Through seven KHL games, Askarov has a .962 save percentage and a 0.96 GAA.
Vasily Podkolzin, RW: A rarity in that he will participate in his third WJC. At his best, Podkolzin plays a physical, straight line game, using his size and power to get to the net, where his hands take over. He hasn’t had a breakout to this point in the KHL, but is poised to flourish under Larionov.
Yegor Chinakhov, RW: The surprise pick of the 2020 NHL Draft lit up the first part of his KHL season in Omsk. Through 27 KHL games, Chinakov has eight goals and 15 points. He caught fire in late September, recording five goals and six points in the five games before being taken 21st overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets.