Team Russia at the 2017 Men’s Worlds
Friday marks the beginning of the 2017 IIHF Men’s World Championship, the tournament being jointly hosted this time around by France and Germany. Russia is coming off a bronze-medal performance at home at last year’s Worlds, and last won gold in 2014 in Minsk. Read on, for a look at the roster that will try to recreate that year’s success in 2017!
Team Russia head coach Oleg Znarok, fresh off leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to their second Gagarin Cup title, has named 22 players to his roster for this tournament. That still leaves three open slots, and Znarok and Co. will be keeping a close eye on the Stanley Cup playoffs to see who might become available when the second round ends. If the current NHL series standings hold up, players such as Alexander Ovechkin, Yevgeny Kuznetsov, and Vladimir Tarasenko might be getting the call in the next week or so, although journalist Igor Eronko tweeted earlier this evening that Ovechkin might take a pass on this year’s Worlds whatever happens with his Washington Capitals team.
In case Russia is unable to fill all of its extra slots with recently-freed NHL reinforcements, the team has three extra players on hand, who could be added to the roster at any point during the Worlds. I will mention them below, under their respective positions. Not making the trip to Germany & France for the tournament are CSKA Moscow forwards Kirill Kaprizov and Andrei Svetlakov, plus defenceman Alexei Bereglazov of the New York Rangers. Those three were the last cuts from the original, preliminary, roster of 28. I confess to some disappointment that we will not get to see Kaprizov, one of the most exciting young players in Russian hockey at the moment, but as he only just turned 20, there will certainly be other opportunities.
Without further ado, the roster:
- Igor Shestyorkin (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Ilya Sorokin (CSKA Moscow
- Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning)
The future is now for Russian national team goaltending. With Vezina-nominated Sergei Bobrovsky of the Columbus Blue Jackets taking a well-deserved rest this year from World Championship action, Vasilevskiy is the greybeard of this group at the ripe old age of 22. The Tampa Bay netminder, coming off his first-ever 50-game NHL season, should get most of the starts at these Worlds (and will officially start against Sweden in Russia’s opener), with Sorokin his likely back-up. Shestyorkin, who had a splendid breakout season for SKA in 2016-17, is on the roster for the second time at the World Championships, although he did not see any action in last year’s edition of the tournament. So, while Vasilevskiy is expected to be Znarok’s first-choice starter, the possibility exists that we will see all three goalies at some point. And with the likes of Ilya Samsonov and Andrei Kareyev waiting in the wings, the Team Russia goal crease could become a very competitive place very soon!
- Viktor Antipin (Free Agent/Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
- Anton Belov (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Vladislav Gavrikov (Free Agent/Lokomotiv Yaroslavl)
- Bogdan Kiselevich (CSKA Moscow)
- Andrei Mironov (Dynamo Moscow)
- Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia Flyers)
- Artyom Zub (SKA St. Petersburg)
Nikita Zaitsev (Toronto Maple Leafs) and Vyacheslav Voinov (SKA St. Petersburg) are absent through injury, and that means opportunity knocks for Provorov, Zub, and Gavrikov, all of whom are making their senior Worlds debuts this year. Anton Belov, coming off his tremendous playoff performance for SKA (18 gp, 3-11-14), will be one of Team Russia’s assistant captains at these Worlds, and, if we can trust the practice pairings, will line line up alongside presumed future Buffalo Sabre Viktor Antipin. The other pairings from practice this week have been: Provorov with Mironov and Gavrikov with Kiselevich, leaving Zub to do spot duty as the seventh blueliner.
CSKA’s Mikhail Naumenkov, while not currently on the roster, is with the team, and could be added later depending on what happens with Russian players currently involved in the Stanley Cup quarterfinals. Should he be added, Naumenkov will be another first-timer at the senior Worlds.
- Sergei Andronov (CSKA Moscow)
- Alexander Barabanov (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Yevgeny Dadonov (Free Agent/SKA St. Petersburg)
- Nikita Gusev (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Nikita Kucherov (Tampa Bay Lightning)
- Sergei Mozyakin (Metallurg Magnitogorsk)
- Vladislav Namestnikov (Tampa Bay Lightning)
- Artemy Panarin (Chicago Blackhawks)
- Sergei Plotnikov (SKA St. Petersburg)
- Vadim Shipachyov (Las Vegas Golden Knights)
- Ivan Telegin (CSKA Moscow)
- Vladimir Tkachyov (Ak Bars Kazan)
Familiar names such as Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk, both out with injuries, are missing from this Russian roster, as is Alexander Radulov due to his being out of contract at the moment. Fully six members of the Team Russia forward group — Andronov, Barabanov, Gusev, Kucherov, Namestnikov, and Tkachyov — will be taking part in their first senior worlds. After his recording-breaking scoring season for Metallurg, Sergei Mozyakin has been deservedly don the captain’s letter, while Shipachyov will join defenceman Belov in wearing an ‘A.’
Coach Znarok has taken the opportunity of reuniting the old SKA line of Shipachyov, Panarin, and Dadonov, at least in practice so far. Gusev, who has taken Panarin’s spot on that line in St. Petersburg the last couple of seasons, is thus freed up to join the two Lightning forwards, Kucherov and Namestnikov, giving Team Russia two very powerful trios up front. And that’s even before we get to Mozyakin, who has been lining up alongside Barabanov and Tkachyov. The final line, therefore, and likely to be used more in a defensive capacity, features Telegin, Andronov, and Plotnikov.
(Incidentally, when I started writing this post, Shipachyov was a free agent coming off an excellent season with SKA. It has just been announced that he has signed with the NHL’s new Las Vegas franchise, the Golden Knights.)
The two extra non-roster forwards with the team are Roman Lyubimov of the Philadelphia Flyers and CSKA Moscow’s Valery Nichushkin. As with defenceman Naumenkov, both or either could be added to the active roster later on.
Russia is in Group A, based in Köln, and their group stage schedule is as follows:
- May 5th vs. Sweden
- May 7th vs. Italy
- May 8th vs. Germany
- May 11th vs. Denmark
- May 13th vs. Slovakia
- May 15th vs. Latvia
- May 16th vs. U.S.A.
The medal round will follow thereafter; the top four teams in each group make the quarterfinals, and the tournament will wrap up with the gold and bronze medal games on May 21st. The other group, incidentally, includes Canada, Belarus, Czechia, Slovenia, France, Switzerland, Norway, and Finland, and will play their games in Paris.
We will have an update on the tournament at some point next week during the group stage (possibly when we know more about arriving NHLers). In the meantime, thank you for reading!