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.