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2020 World Junior Hockey Championship: Team Russia preview & roster

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Russia brings top-end talent at each position, but the depth of the squad may be the biggest issue.

Russia v Sweden Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

The 2020 Russian team will stand and fall with its goalkeeper, top 2020 NHL Draft prospect Yaroslav Askarov. Russia plays a much better defensive game with him in net rather that any of the other options, as was evidenced in the Four Nations tournament in November where the netminder kept the score down in the games for which he got the start. Askarov is very good — so good that he has already guarded the goal for SKA Saint Petersburg in KHL. A hot goalie can take a team far in a short tournament, and while Lucas Raymond got all the headlines in last year’s World Under-18 Championship, Askarov was the standout goalie of the event.

In regards to the defence in front of him, it will be up to Montreal Canadiens prospect Alexander Romanov to anchor it. Sweden’s coach, Tomas Montén, had nothing but praise for the prospect when asked about him.

“He is so good, strong, fast, and he can deliver hits. It feels like he plays all the time when you face Russia, but in reality it’s only around 25 minutes. I voted for him as the best defender in last year’s [World Juniors].”

Can Romanov repeat the performance that earned him Top Defenceman honours a year ago? That is the main question at the moment.

Team Russia final roster

# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
30 Yaroslav Askarov G VHL SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (2020 draft)
20 Daniil Isayev G MHL Loko Yaroslavl
1 Amir Miftakhov G VHL Bars Kazan
3 Danila Galenyuk D MHL SKA-1946 St. Petersburg
5 Anton Malyshev D MHL Loko Yaroslavl
25 Daniil Misyul D KHL Loko Yaroslavl (NJD)
6 Daniil Pylenkov D KHL Vityaz Podolsk
26 Alexander Romanov D KHL CSKA Moscow (MTL)
4 Yegor Zamula D WHL Calgary Hitmen (PHI)
2 Daniil Zhuravlyov D KHL AK Bars Kazan (COL)
24 Nikita Alexandrov F QMJHL Charlottetown Islanders (STL)
14 Grigori Denisenko F MHL Loko Yaroslavl (FLO)
27 Pavel Dorofeyev F MHL Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (VGK)
28 Maxim Groshev F KHL Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (2020 Draft)
7 Alexander Khovanov F QMJHL Moncton Wildcats (MIN)
12 Ilya Kruglov F KHL Dynamo Moscow
9 Kirill Marchenko F KHL SKA St Petersburg (CBJ)
8 Ivan D. Morozov F MHL SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (VGK)
11 Vasili Podkolzin F KHL SKA St Petersburg (VAN)
19 Nikita Rtishchev F MHL Zvezda Moskva
13 Yegor Sokolov F QMJHL Cape Breton Eagles
17 Maxim Sorkin F VHL Zvezda Moskva
10 Dmitri Voronkov F KHL AK Bars Kazan (CBJ)

Daniil Zhuravlyov and Daniil Pylenkov are two other KHL players, but the rest of the defence is made up of MHL and VHL players, with the exception of Yegor Zamula who plays in North America with the Calgary Hitmen.

The spotlight will be on SKA Saint Petersburg and Vancouver Canucks prospect Vasili Podkolzin to contribute the offence. Personally, I have a favourite in Maxim Groshev. The Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk player and 2020 NHL Draft prospect is big, but has skill in the areas around the net.

Strengths

The goaltending will be what decides how far this team will go. Can Askarov hold up for a full tournament, and if he doesn’t, can Daniil Isayev step in and fill that position? You would have to think so. Both of them have played in the KHL this season, and they are used to the angles and bigger ice in Europe.

Weaknesses

While the the top defenders are strong, the uncertainty of the depth players is the biggest conern. The same goes for the forwards. The top lines are interesting and can probably outscore many teams, but what about the next two lines? Can they play to a draw when they are on the ice?

X-Factor

Can Vasili Podkolzin lead from the front and score at will as he did in the international games leading up to WU18C last year? He may need to if the Russians are going to keep advancing through the tournament, regardless of how well Askarov limits offence for the opposition.

Prediction

The spine of the team will be Askarov-Romanov-Podkolzin. If it works, Russia can go deep into the medal rounds. The Red Machine can perhaps challenge for the gold medal if Askarov plays well, Romanov is the rock that the defence is built upon, and Podkolzin scores at will.