Photo: Belleville Bulls defenseman Jordan Subban was one of the top performers for Canada's gold medal team at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Tournament (courtesy of Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
The annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, considered by some to be the most prestigeous international hockey competition of players under eighteen years of age, was held last week in Břeclav, Czech Republic, and Piešťany, Slovakia. And as is usually the case in the world of hockey, some results and statistics were simply surprising.
Photo: Los Angeles Kings draft pick Nikolai Prokhorkin was one of 13 Russians chosen at the 2012 NHL Draft (courtesy of Aaron Bell/CHL Images)
The 2012 NHL Draft was an interesting one for Russia as the first overall pick, for the first time since Alexander Ovechkin's name was called in 2004, was a Russian player, with Nail Yakupov receiving the honor as the choice of the Edmonton Oilers.
Photo: Talented center Mikhail Grigorenko fell out of the 2012 NHL Draft's top 10 and into the laps of the Buffalo Sabres, who snapped Grigorenko up with the 12th pick overall (courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
In the early going of the 2011-12 season, center Mikhail Grigorenko was considered by some to be the top prospect available for the 2012 NHL Draft. By season's end, however, the talented Russian was dropping in the rankings, finally being chosen with the 12th selection overall by the Buffalo Sabres.
Photo: Undersized forward Nikita Gusev is one of the top Russian trained prospects eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft. (Aaron Bell/OHL)
The 2012 NHL Entry Draft class doesn't seem to be a particularly big one for Russia, especially when considering that the top players, Mikhail Grigorenko and Nail Yakupov, left the Mother Land to play in the Canadian junior system. In the last few years more and more players have decided to cross the pond earlier, and even if it didn't pay off in all cases, the CHL is now becoming a good alternative for Russian players who opt for an early transition to North American hockey.
Photo: Goaltender Jordan Binnington had a rough post-season posting an 0-2 record and a 5.00 goals against average. (CHL Images)
Plenty of St. Louis prospects made noise during their team's respective postseason runs with several bringing home league championships. Two prospects were integral to Saint John's run toward their second consecutive QMJHL Championship while a third Quebec League prospect came out on top at the Memorial Cup. The Blues were also represented on the Swedish Elite League champion Brynas team. Several other prospects ranked among their league's top scorers during the playoffs despite falling short of the championship.