On Wednesday, Team Russia announced its tryout camp roster for the 2013 World Junior tournament — a star-studded roster featuring three prized picks from the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Nail Yakupov (1st overall, Edmonton), Mikhail Grigorenko (12th overall, Buffalo) and Andrey Vasilevskiy (19th overall, Tampa Bay) are Russia’s key returnees, looking to win it all after finishing second at the 2012 tourney.
The trio was influential in capturing silver last time out: Yakupov led the tournament in assists, Grigorenko had five points in six games while Vasilevskiy led the tournament in save percentage and shutouts.
All told, the Russians will return 10 players from last year’s squad, which includes Bruins prospect Alexander Khokhlachev. Taken 40th overall by Boston at the 2011 draft, “Koko” was a scoring sensation for OHL Windsor a year ago before jumping to the KHL this season, where he’s been playing with Spartak Moscow.
As for new blood, Team Russia has invited Valeri Nichushkin to camp — the No. 1 Russian prospect for the 2013 draft, according to NHL Central Scouting.
“He’s a big, strong two-way winger,” Central Scouting Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. “He’s tough to stop when driving to the net from either wing — a defenseman’s nightmare in one-on-one situations when at top speed.”
It should be noted that Russia (Ufa) will host the tournament for the first time since 2001, and the team will look to extend its strong showing of recent years — Russia has medaled in four of the last five tournaments, winning gold in 2011.
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two:
Are the Philadelphia Flyers aiming for some sort of record when it comes to expensive (potential) healthy scratches?
While lineups are obviously subject to change, CSNPhilly.com notes that Vincent Lecavalier appears to be among a rather rich group of Flyers who are expected to sit during their season-opener.
Also likely to be in street clothes: Sam Gagner and Luke Schenn.
That’s $11.3 million in cap space rotting on the bench.
“I really don’t know what to say,” Lecavalier said. “I’ll practice hard and be ready when they call me up.”
The CSNPhilly.com quotes from Lecavalier, Gagner and Schenn only get sadder from there, a reminder that there are human beings attached to these numbers – whether you focus on disappointing stats or bloated salaries.
Flyers fans with the urge to reach for an Alka-Setzler can at least take some comfort in knowing that the team will see $6.8 million in savings after this season, as both Gagner and Schenn are on expiring deals.
It could be a long season, though, and this Lecavalier headache may not truly end until his contract expires following the 2017-18 campaign.