Lightning Russian prospects update

By Sergei Balashov

Alexander Polushin, RW
Severstal Cherepovets (RSL)
Lightning’s 2nd choice, 47th overall in 2001 entry draft

It looks like changing teams was very positive for Alexander Polushin, who joined Severstal prior to the start of the season. He got the chance to not only see more ice time after having a hard time making CSKA’s main squad, but also play with Igor Grigorenko (DET) and Yuri Trubachev (CAL), two of the brightest Russian talents.

His team finished the regular season with the 12th overall record and earned a postseason appearance. Polushin spent a good part of the season on the third line with Sergei Soin (NAS) and Sergei Piskunov, but was overshadowed by both of them. He had a sub-par season posting eight goals with two of them coming on power play and four assists in 42 regular season games ranking 10th on the team in scoring. Polushin had five goals and four assists in the first 15 games but posted just two points in the final 23 outings.

He’s shown little progress compared to his previous two seasons, however, he still can be considered a decent power forward for a player of his size.

Dmitri Kazionov, C
Dynamo Moscow (RSL)
Lightning’s 4th choice, 100th overall in 2002 entry draft

Kazionov switched teams middle through the season leaving Lada for a stronger and better-balanced reigning champion Dynamo. He had little hope of making it big on a team filled with high-profile players. Kazionov played in 39 regular season games scoring two goals and five assists which isn’t much worse than his last season’s stats (3 goals and 8 assists in 46 games).

Kazionov is an exceptional defensive forward who possesses very good speed and stickhandling skills. He could be worth using on special teams, especially on a penalty-killing unit. Most importantly, Kazionov has a lot of room for development but it’s highly unlikely that he’ll make progress if he decides to stick with Dynamo for a few more seasons as he’s more of a filler on his current team.

Alexei Glukhov, LW
Khimik (RSL)
Lightning’s 9th choice, 286th overall in 2002 entry draft

Glukhov played in 46 regular season games for Khimik in 2005-06 posting two goals and 14 assists for a total of 16 points. He’s helped his teammates to four power-play goals but didn’t get any of his own. He possesses excellent size (6’3 and 212 lbs) but doesn’t emphasize the physical side of the game. It would probably make sense for him to move to center instead of playing left wing where he’d find a better use of his playmaking skills. His size and his hockey sense could also make him effective on defense.

His team’s success (sixth place in the regular season) was possible due in part to his improved performance. Glukhov is boosting his value and could be high on demand once he becomes a free agent in the RSL.

Albert Vishnyakov, LW
Dynamo Moscow (RSL)
Lightning’s 9th choice, 273rd overall in 2003 entry draft

Dynamo’s coaches started relying on Vishnyakov more than they did last year dressing him for 46 regular season games after last season’s 28. He responded by finishing 12th on the team in scoring with 11 points (9 goals and 2 assists). Vishnyakov participated in the European Champions Cup with Dynamo. He was among the best on his team in the tournament, scoring twice in three games and helping Dynamo to victory.

As for the Russian Super League, Vishnyakov doesn’t have much of an impact on his team’s performance and doesn’t get to see the ice as often as he’d like to.

Vasili Koshechkin, G
Lada Togliatti (RSL)
Lightning’s 8th choice, 233rd overall in 2002 entry draft

No goaltender has seen more improvement than 22-year-old Vasili Koshechkin. After serving as Jussi Markkanen’s backup for 2004-05, Koshechkin took over as starter and emerged as arguably the best goaltender of the league. He finished regular season second overall in save percentage with 93.44 save percentage, second in shutouts (with 10 in 44 games). He also ranked second with 1.62 GAA trailing only Travis Scott who had 1.22. However, Scott, who was the only goaltender to top Koshechkin in save percentage and goals against average plays for Metallurg Mg, the best team of the league that won the regular season by a landslide.

Koshechkin has to play for Lada which saw all of their best players such as Alexander Semin (WAS) depart middle through the season due to financial problems. Everyone expected them to go far down in the standings, but, mostly thanks to Koshechkin, they managed to take the ninth overall spot and eliminate the reigning champion Dynamo in the first round of playoffs.

The young goaltender, who also posted a 203-minute shutout streak, saw his value rise considerably and should be viewed as one of the top Russian goaltending prospects.

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