While the echo of the sensational hat trick by Maxim Kitsyn still goes on, this week let’s try and track down Russian players in the CHL. Many players from the Motherland crossed the ocean this summer and it’s interesting to see how they are doing.
The WHL counts two players from Russia and one each from Belarus and Latvia. Igor Revenko from Minsk is having a good season in the W so far, and in his third year in the Canadian juniors he’s tallied 18 points in 17 games, with seven goals and eleven assists. It’s surprising that the dynamic Prince Albert Raiders’ winger isn’t drafted yet, but that happens with Europeans sometimes. The Russian contingent in the WHL is made up of Mikhail Fisenko and Alex Kuvaev. Kuvaev is having limited success in Lethbridge with four goals and one assist in thirteen games, while Fisenko is a valuable member of the Calgary Hitmen with four points in nine games. Fisenko is another player which I think is good enough to be drafted, even if he doesn’t have a star offensive upside. Oilers’ prospect Kristians Pelss is struggling to produce for the Edmonton Oil Kings, with only one goal and one assist in thirteen games.
The OHL and QMJHL are traditionally more friendly leagues for Russians due to the less physical and more skilled game. In Ontario there are 10 players from Russia, 11 if we count Alex Galchenyuk, who is still trying to decide if he represents America or Russia on the international stage. Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting is probably the most impressive one so far, topping the OHL with 27 points in 15 games. The exciting 2012 eligible winger is having a very strong season so far and now he looks like the front runner from the first overall pick at the 2012 NHL draft. 2011 eligible Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor Spitfires) and Vladislav Namestnikov (London Knights) are showing great things as well. Khokhlachev scored 19 points in 15 games, while Namestnikov scored the same amount but skating in only 13 games. Even if different players, Khokhlachev is more complete, Namestnikov is more of a scorer even if he got a good amount of assists so far, both are first round material.
Caps’ draftee Ivan Telegin is having a solid season too in Saginaw, while other Russian players are less satisfying: Sudbury’s Andrei Kuchin is yet to score his first OHL goal, Tankeev played only three games for the Erie Otters and Egor Omelyanenko of the SOO Grey Hounds had just a good streak in October, scoring four goals, but that was all. Defenseman Andrei Pedan on the other hand is doing rather well, he did score zero points so far for the Guelph Storm, but he’s playing solidly and is a stay-at-home type of defenseman. Regarding goalies, Igor Bobkov is struggling for the London Knights, while Ramis Sadikov is having a decent season in Erie.
Moving to Quebec we should take into consideration that Kirill Kabanov has been drafted to the Lewiston MAINEiacs some time ago, but he’s yet to play due to some troubles with his visa. Time only will tell if he’s going to change once in Lewiston. Also in the Q some Russians are doing well, while others are struggling. Anton Zlobin of the Shawinigan Chataractes is having a good season with 13 points in 15 games so far, while offensive dman Artem Sergeev scored eight assists and nine points for Val d’Or. Caps’ draftee Stan Galiev scored seven goals in eleven games for St. John and is having another good year after his solid 2009-10 campaign. Igor Levitsky (Gatineau) and Maxim Kazakov (Rouyn-Noranda) are the ones which aren’t doing well. Goalie Andrei Makarov isn’t doing well either for Lewiston as he won only one out of seven games played, with a .873 saves percentage and an unimpressive GAA of 3.88. He also had a shutout. Belarusian defenseman Roman Grabarenko has four assists in 19 games.