Ivan Hlinka Gretzky Preview: Russia

A team who has struggled to make it to the finals over the past few years, Russia is going to be hungry as a team looking to prove themselves. They have never won at the Ivan Hlinka’s and only have two final visits. Packed with skill upfront and a deep defensive core, Russia is looking like one of the frontrunners this year to take it all. Most of the players on this year’s team are familiar with each other, as they are bringing a similar team in that played together at the U17 last year. Highlighted by several potential first round prospects in Vasili Podkolzin, Oleg Zaitsev, Artemi Knyazev, and Yegor Spiridonov. Russia should be a front heavy team, they have an abundance of a creative up and down there forward line up. I will be interested to see how players will fit into roles, who is going to be playing down the middle and who will be relied upon in defensive situations. A strong two-way center on this team would really stand out. Defensively Knyazev stands out for me, he’s a big two-way defender who moves well in all three zones. I’d fully expect him to carry him to carry a big load for that defensive core. Outside of him Sedov and Vashchenko are two players who will play supporting roles on d. Russia also brings a top 2020 draft prospect in Daniil Gushchin, he suited up for them last year with U17’s and found success productively. There goalie group will be the most interesting, they bring two goalies eligible for the 2020 draft, neither played a starting role for their U17 team. I think this is where they may struggle. Overall I think they will be a top two team in their division but may struggle to go all the way with potential struggles stopping pucks from going into their own net.

Previous Years Results:

2018: Loss in Secondary Finals

2017: Win in Secondary Finals (Bronze)

2016: Win in Secondary Finals (Bronze)

2015: Win in Placement Game

Notable Alumni’s:

Nail Yakupov (2010)

Mikhail Grigorenko (2011)

Kirill Kaprizov (2014)

Andrei Svechnikov (2016)

Vladimir Tarasenko (2008)

Vladislav Namestnikov (2009)

Alexander Burmistrov (2008)

Yevgeni Kuznetsov (2008)

Pavel Buchnevich (2012)

Alexei Cherepanov (2006)

Dmitri Orlov (2008)

Forwards:

Rodion Amirov

Sergei Alkhimov

Daniil Gutik

Ilya Nikolayev

Oleg Zaitsev

Yaroslav Likhachyov

Vasili Podkolzin

Yegor Spiridonov

Arseni Gritsyuk

Daniil Gushchin

Mikhail Abramov

Yegor Chinakhov

Defense:

Nikolai Burenov

Roman Bychkov

Ilya Mironov

Nikita Vashchenko

Artemi Knyazev

Nikita Sedov

Dmitri Tyuvilin

Semyon Chistyakov

Goalies:

Yaroslav Askarov

Vladimir Sartakov

Notable Players to Watch:

Vasili Podkolzin – DraftGeek’s highest ranked player on this Russian team, Podkolzin has found international success last season at both the U17 and U18. With a point per game average or above at both tournaments last year. Expected to spend this upcoming season with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg of the MHL and potentially getting some KHL time. A slick balanced offensive threat who is deceptive with the puck on his stick and crafty in his zone entries. Expected to make an impact in both the goals and assist department. Could run house and lead the tournament in scoring.

Yegor Spiridonov – Another player who spent time with both the U17 and U18 Russian teams last year, Spiridonov is going to be heavily relied upon in offensive situations. A crafty scoring winger who has a lanky physique and stride. Sort of similar in his skating and puck control to a player like Jesse Puljujarvi. He is able to attack defenseman one on one and make them look silly. Definitely going to be one of the more fun players to watch at this tournament.

Oleg Zaitsev – Recently committed to the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL for next season, Zaitsev is going to have a lot to prove in front of his new home town crowd. He found much MHL success last year with 27 points in 48 games and was a key contributor to his U17 team. A balanced center who can impact the game with his hockey IQ and vision with the puck. Responsible in all three zones and well matured for his age. Might be the biggest standout people are talking about after this tournament.

Artemi Knyazev – Expected to take on a huge minute workload for his team. Knyazev is a strong mobile two-way defender who plays a stay at home game. He has four-way skating abilities and is excellent in transition. Can squeeze plays in on both blue lines and cut off the play. I like his confidence in all three zones and think he could be the most crucial piece to this Russia team’s success.

Daniil Gushchin – The most highly touted 2020 NHL draft prospect on this team, Gushchin is a 2002 born Russian prospect who has already made a name for himself. Playing two years ahead of his age group at last year’s U18 and still playing as an underage this year. An opportunistic scorer who goes to the right areas. Likely the next big Russian prospect, he will go head to head with other highly touted 2020 eligible at this tournament.

Schedule:

August 6th Monday 3:00pm MDT against Finland

August 7th Tuesday 3:00pm MDT against Czech Republic

August 8th Wednesday 3:00pm MDT against USA