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.
As if Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final couldn’t get any more dramatic, it has — Tampa Bay captain Steve Stamkos, who hasn’t played since Mar. 31, will make his playoff debut against the Penguins tonight.
Stamkos underwent vascular surgery in early April to correct a blood clotting issue, and has remained on blood thinners ever since. While there’s been no confirmation he’s off medication, he did tell Sportsnet he’d be able to return to the lineup once he was.
Stamkos reiterated that he’s still on the same prescription of blood thinners he was given earlier this month. He takes a 12-hour dosage, twice a day, and it has been suggested to him that once he is cleared to stop taking the medication, Stamkos conceivably could return to the Lightning lineup almost immediately.
That’s why I’m trying to stay in shape,” he said.
Per NHL.com, Stamkos took the warmup and participated in line rushes centering Ondrej Palat and Ryan Callahan.
It’s been exactly eight weeks since Stamkos played his last game. At the time of his diagnosis, the Lightning said his timetable for recovery was 1-3 months.
To say his return will be a boost is a major understatement. Aside from the emotional factor, Stamkos led the Bolts in goals this year, with 36, and would presumably spark a power play that’s gone just 2-for-12 in the series.
Steve Stamkos took the team bus to tonight’s Eastern Conference Game 7 in Pittsburgh. As TVA noted, it was the first time he’s arrived early for a game in these playoffs.
In his pregame presser, Bolts head coach Jon Cooper refused to answer any questions about Stamkos’ availability.
And then Stamkos took the warmup.
As such, the drama surrounding Tampa Bay’s captain has reached an all-time high. Stamkos, who’s been out of the lineup since early April due to blood clots, looks as though he’s on the verge of an emotional comeback as the Lightning try to win an ECF Game 7 — on the road — for a second consecutive season.
“If Stamkos is in the lineup, it’s our best foot forward,” Cooper said. “If he’s not in the lineup, it’s because he wasn’t eligible to play.”
No word if No. 91 is still on the blood thinning medication he’s been taking since undergoing vascular surgery on Apr. 4.
EDINA, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Wild left wing Zach Parise has been rehabilitating his back injury without surgery, putting him on track to be at full strength by September.
Parise said Thursday he’s “happy with the way everything’s going.” He said he’s been able to work out as he normally does during the summer, despite missing the playoffs because of the injury.
Parise said there’s “no question” he’ll be ready to play for Team USA in the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
Parise joined teammates Erik Haula, Jason Pominville, Nate Prosser, Jared Spurgeon and Jason Zucker at an autograph signing to raise money for people affected by the wildfires in Alberta. The parents of Spurgeon’s wife, Danielle, lost their home to a fire in the Edmonton area.