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World Juniors 2015: Russia team preview

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Can Russia's KHL-dominated roster make a name for itself on Canadian soil to win a medal for the fifth straight year?

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Russia will seek their fifth-straight Medal at the IIHF's 2015 World Juniors Championships. With only two players, Ivan Barbashev and Pavel Buchnevich, returning from their Bronze medal win in 2014, Russia will look to a new crop of talent to lead the way. Russia will face off against Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic in Group B's Preliminary Round action.

Roster

Player Pos Draft Year* League Current Team
Denis Kostin G 2013 KHL Avangard Omsk
Igor Shestyorkin G 2014 (NYR, 118th) KHL SKA St. Petersburg
Ilya Sorokin G 2014 (NYI, 78th) KHL Metallurg Novokuznetsk
Alexander Bryntsev D 2013 KHL Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk
Nikita Cherepanov D 2014 VHL HK Ryazan
Vladislav Gavrikov D 2014 VHL HK Ryazan
Ziat Paigin D 2013 KHL Ak Bars Kazan
Ivan Provorov D 2015 WHL Brandon Wheat Kings
Rushan Rafikov D 2013 (CGY, 187th) VHL HK Ryazan
Damir Sharipzyanov D 2014 OHL Owen Sound Attack
Rinat Valiev D 2014 (TOR, 68th) WHL Kootenay Ice
Ivan Vereshagin D 2013 KHL Vityaz Podolsk
Dmitri Yudin D 2013 KHL SKA St. Petersburg
Ivan Barbashev F 2014 (STL, 33rd) QMJHL Moncton Wildcats
Vladimir Bryukvin F 2013 VHL Dynamo Balashikha
Pavel Buchnevich F 2013 (NYR, 75th) KHL Severstal Cherepovets
Alexander Dergachyov F 2015 MHL SKA-1946 St. Petersburg
Ivan Fishchenko F 2014 VHL Sokol Krasnoyarsk
Nikolay Goldobin F 2014 (SJ, 27th) Liiga IFK Helsinki
Anatoli Golyshev F 2013 KHL Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg
Vladislav Kamenev F 2014 (NSH, 42nd) KHL Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Ilya Korenev F 2013 KHL Yugra Khanty-Mansisk
Pavel Kraskovski F 2014 MHL Loko Yaroslavl
Vyacheslav Leshenko F 2013 KHL Atlant Mytishi
Maxim Mamin F 2013 KHL CSKA Moscow
Yegor Morozov F 2013 KHL HK Sochi
Konstantin Okulov F 2013 MHL Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk
Alexander Sharov F 2014 KHL Lada Togliatti
Vladimir Tkachyov F 2014 QMJHL Quebec Remparts
Sergei Tolchinski F 2013 OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

*grey text for undrafted players

The roster will be reduced from 30 to 23 after the players are evaluated in pre-tournament games.

Draft Eligible Players

Any player born before September 16, 1997, is eligible for the 2015 NHL draft.

Defenseman Ivan Provorov and forward Alexander Dergachyov are the sole Russian-born players with first year draft eligibility in 2015.

Provorov has garnered considerable attention thus far, picking up a number of first round draft projections. At 17, the offensive defenseman is the youngest player Russia's World Juniors roster. In 35 games with the Brandon Wheat Kings, the WHL rookie has 10 goals and 37 points. Provorov is ranked as high as 16 by the ISS, 20 by Future Considerations, and 22 by McKeen's.

Dergachyov is unranked to date, but has a chance to change that if he cracks the Russian squad this year. The 6'4, 200-pound center certainly has the size to succeed on the smaller North American rinks in Montreal and Toronto, but is among the least experienced players currently on Russia's roster. In 24 games with SKA-1946 St. Petersburg in Russia's MHL (or Junior Hockey League), the 18-year-old has 22 points.

Strengths

During exhibition play last week, Russia's goaltender Ilya Sorokin turned aside 52 shots (52!!!), allowing his team to squeek out a 2-1 overtime win over host Canada. Goaltending will have to be among Russia's strengths to earn a medal this year. It's early, but if Sorokin, a third-round draft pick by the New York Islanders, continues to dominate the crease, Russia will be in a good place to match or best their third place finish last year.

The most notable offensive players are Barbashev and Nikolay Goldobin. Russia will count on these skill players to elevate their game and lead offensively.

Weaknesses

Game breakers among the forward group a few and far between. A first-round pick at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks, Goldobin may be counted on heavily. After putting up many points over the last two years with the OHL's Sarnia Sting, the 19-year-old has been on loan with IFK Helsinki in Finland this season.

With only a handful of players currently on North American rosters, Russia will need to adjust to the smaller ice surface to match Team Canada and Team USA. They will undoubtedly need to incorporate a physical dimension to their game to advance further through the Tournament.

X-Factor

Anonymity is on Russia's side. Opponents will be familiar with their top players, but there is plenty of time for some of the lesser known skaters to make a name for themselves. The majority of the roster will draw from KHL teams. If the group can come together and execute a sound team game, the perennial contenders could prove to be dark horse candidates for Gold.

Poll

Where will Russia finish at the 2015 World Juniors?

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Gold Medal
    (48 votes)
  • 13%
    Silver Medal
    (32 votes)
  • 24%
    Bronze Medal
    (57 votes)
  • 27%
    4th Place
    (64 votes)
  • 13%
    5th or worse
    (32 votes)
233 votes total Vote Now