Photo: Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin was named the KHL’s Rookie of the Year for the 2012-13 season and is likely to be a high pick at the NHL Draft (courtesy of Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)
While he doesn't qualify as a sleeper for the 2013 NHL Draft, Russian forward Valeri Nichushkin presents a tantalizing selection of skills wrapped in a mildly mysterious identity.
Photo: Forward Vladimir Tkachev has been the scoring star so far for Russia at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship (courtesy of Derek Leung/Getty Images)
The preliminary round has come and gone at the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, and Groups A and B each featured one fairly dominant team.
Photo: Soo Greyhounds forward Sergei Tolchinsky adjusted well to the North American during his OHL rookie season (courtesy of Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
The host country for the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship, Russia, completed the preliminary round with a perfect 4-0 record after defeating the Czech Republic, 5-2, in their final match of the opening round.
Photo: Latvian forward Haralds Egle is one of four team members to have played in North America in the 2012-13 season (courtesy of Chapin Landvogt)
Latvia came into the 2013 U18 World Junior Championship hoping to at least equal that country's performance at the 2012 version of this tournament.
Terry Wilson / OHL Images
As the hosts of this 2013 Under-18 World Junior Championship, the Russians would love to prove that they are the best hockey country of the world. They won their last gold from this event in 2007, but last year failed to reach a medal position. As you know, hockey always carries a huge importance in Russia, but now, with the tournament on their own soil, they will probably make an even bigger deal out of this tournament. Unfortunately, the Russian Hockey Federation hasn't released the final roster as of this writing, but there are some names that should be in the mix once the WJC gets underway.