With the 2013-14 season now completed, and as the 2014 NHL Draft draws closer, the list of Russian prospects who are on the radar of the NHL scouting staffs gets thinner. The list of potential draftees playing in Russia is always somewhat difficult to gauge due to the infamous “Russian Factor” hanging over the heads of any player that chooses to stay in Russia to continue their development.
In spite of producing great defensemen like Sergei Gonchar, Vyacheslav Fetisov, and Sergei Zubov, Russia has a better reputation for developing forwards. This is well reflected in the NHL prospect situation in the KHL, where there are a number of intriguing offensive prospects, but only a few defenders with solid NHL potential.
For the second year in a row, Team Russia came back home from the World Junior Championship with a bronze medal, once again beating Canada to earn that medal. If this can’t be considered a disaster, it cannot be considered a great success, either.
Each year, Russia is usually among the contenders for the U20 World Junior Championship gold medal, with this year being no different as head coach Mikhail Varnakov will have at his disposal a very good team. Last month's Subway Super Series showed that Russia would ice a very competitive team as, with 14 players busy in the KHL, Team Russia still skated on a par with the CHL all-star teams that they faced.