2006 WJC: Kirill Lyamin for Team Russia

By Sean Keogh

Kirill Lyamin’s career has been on a rollercoaster ride since the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. He was projected to go in the first round that year, after playing regularly as a 17-year-old in the Super League. The young Russian fell to the Senators late in the second round, and subsequently struggled for most of the 2004-05 season.

Injuries and the NHL lockout hurt Lyamin, as he failed to play a single game in the Super League. Perhaps most disappointing was his exclusion from the 2005 Russian World Junior team.

The 2005-06 season has started off much better, as Lyamin has re-established himself in the Super League with CSKA Moscow. After 18 games with the club, he was rewarded by being chosen for the 2006 World Junior team in his final season of eligibility. Lyamin is one of four members of CSKA Moscow playing at the WJC, the others being Sergei Ogorodnikov (NYI), Nikolai Lemtyugov (STL) and free agent Sergei Shirokov.

Although it is his first appearance at the tournament, he has taken a leadership position with the club.

“I’m one of the oldest on the team, I am trying to be a leader, to fill this role,” he said. “But there is no special thing that I am doing or saying.”

He points out how strong the team chemistry has become since the group arrived in Canada. Lyamin is quick to give credit to his teammates though, particularly the youngsters on the squad.

“On this great team, everybody knows why we are here, even the younger guys are doing their best to help the older guys when they can,” said Lyamin, who turns 20 just over a week after the tournament ends. “It is a team effort and everybody here is helping each other.”

Russia is part of Group B, which boasts three other strong teams in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Sweden, along with Latvia. Lyamin’s debut came on Monday against the Swedes, a contest his squad won comfortably. Although Sweden scored first, the Russians scored five unanswered to win 5-1. Lyamin attributed the slow start to a lack of discipline.

“We were playing shorthanded a lot, which was the reason for our struggles early. It was difficult for us to find our game,” said the blueliner. “But after we capitalized on a power play it was easier. Some of the mistakes the Swedes made helped us, but overall I think we played average.”

As a result of the penalties, Lyamin saw plenty of ice time against the Swedes. His primary partner has been Andrei Zubarev (ATL). When asked whether he’d played with Zubarev before, Lyamin said the two had no history, “but it’s a great team, and because he is a great player, it is easier to get used to.”

After topping the Swedes, the Russians moved on to Slovakia. This time there was no slow start for Lyamin’s squad. The score at the end of the first period was already 5-1 in favor of the Russians, with fellow Senators prospect Ilya Zubov leading the way with a goal and an assist in the first period alone.

A strong showing for Lyamin in Vancouver would help the blueliner improve his standing in the organization. Although he does not have to be signed within the new two-year period instituted for European-based players, he is still working towards a contract.

“No I haven’t heard anything during the first part of this season,” said Lyamin when asked whether he had spoken with the Senators organization. “But I am proud to have been drafted and I am very excited to attend the training camp.”

Although Lyamin is the only Senators 2004 draft pick playing in the tournament this year, four players selected in the 2005 draft by the organization are in Vancouver. Shawn Weller, a 2004 selection, was not named to the American roster despite representing them at the tournament last year.

The other four Senators prospects at the tournament are Brian Lee of the United States, the aforementioned Zubov of Russia, Janne Kolehmainen of Finland and Tomas Kudelka of the Czech Republic. Both Lee and Kolehmainen represented their countries last year as well.

Glen Erickson contributed to this article. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.