After the WJC triumph, as we already pointed out two weeks ago, Russian juniors' popularity in the KHL is raising. Teams are now more likely to ice young players and some players now get some deserved attention. Let's take a look at some more examples.
Obviously we are talking about Evgeny Kuznetsov. The Caps’ blue chip prospect has been on fire recently, as he scored in each of the last five games he played. He recently added two more against Dynamo Moscow in what was an unlucky game: in spite of winning 4-1, Traktor was automatically eliminated from a playoff spot.
Considering that, many top KHL teams were interested in his services for the playoff as trade deadline reinforcement, but it didn’t work out. Russian powerhouses SKA St. Petersburg and Metallurg Magnitogorsk tried acquiring the talented forward, but Traktor resisted all the pressure and decided not to give away their golden boy, as per explicitly requested by their head coach Valery Belousov.
Kuznetsov most likely knew that, and he recently stated that he’s most likely going to spend the remainder of the season with Traktor’s junior team in the KHL in their Kharlamov Cup hunt. Moreover, Kuznetsov has been included in the long list for Team Russia’s participation to the next stage of the Euro Hockey Tour, certainly a good achievement.
For another player who decided to stay in Russia – at least for now – we’ve got one who wants to cross the pond as soon as possible. As posted by Roman Piontovsky, Dmitry Orlov decided to cross the pond as soon as February’s end. After his excellent WJC campaign, in which he was named to the tournament’s All-Star team, also Orlov was targeted by top teams, but in spite of offers, Metallurg Novokuznetsk decided not to trade him. Most likely because he’d go to America anyway and they want to keep the rights on their home grown defenseman, should something go wrong in his North American tenure.
The third big player who has been excellent at the WJC was Vladimir Tarasenko. The 19-year-old winger will most likely cross the pond this summer, but for now his season might be over. As I posted here one week ago, the Russian tank will be forced to miss one month due to a separated shoulder. The problem is that Sibir might be not playing anymore at that point.
In any case the Motherland seems to getting back in talents producing, not only due to the Gold Medal. The team which recently won the WJC did feature some stars, like the aforementioned players, but also something relatively new to Team Russia, at least in their junior flavor: role players able to adapt to the different contexts of a game.
If the KHL teams will manage to ice more junior players this Gold Medal might be repeated in the next few years.