Ovechkin, Malkin headline Russian Olympic team; Semin, Gonchar snubbed

22 Comments

The host nation has named its Olympic roster and, as expected, it’s loaded up front.

Led by Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and reigning NHL MVP Alex Ovechkin, Russia trotted out a star-studded group on Tuesday, though there were some omissions that caught the hockey world by surprise.

Carolina’s Alex Semin — playing very well of late, and a member of the ’10 Olympic squad — won’t be playing in Sochi, nor will veteran defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Other notable omissions from the Russian roster include Florida’s Dmitry Kulikov, Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov and New Jersey’s Anton Volchenkov.

As for those that made the team…

Russia embraced its youth by selecting 18-year-old Dallas rookie Valeri Nichushkin and 22-year-old Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko. They’ll be joined by 25-year-old Viktor Tikhonov, a former first-round pick (Phoenix, 2008) that’s currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the KHL.

In goal, the Russians made no surprises by going with Sergei Bobrovsky and Semyon Varlamov. The third spot went to Alexander Yeryomenko, a 33-year-old KHL veteran.

On defense, the team went NHL-heavy with six of eight blueliners coming from North America. They include Edmonton’s Anton Belov, Montreal’s Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov, Columbus’ Nikita Nikitin and Fedor Tyutin, and Los Angeles’ Slava Voynov.

It is at forward, though, where the Russians are most dangerous. In addition to the aforementioned Datsyuk-Malkin-Ovechkin trio, the club also features Nichushkin, Tarasenko, Artem Anisimov, Nikolai Kulemin and Ilya Kovalchuk.

Here is the full roster, per TSN:

Goalkeepers: Sergei Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov, Alexander Yeryomenko.

Defenders: Anton Belov, Alexei Emelin, Andrei Markov, Evgeny Medvedev, Nikita Nikitin, Ilya Nikulin, Fedor Tyutin, Slava Voynov.

Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Pavel Datsyuk, Denis Kokarev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Valeri Nichushkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Sergei Soin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tereshenko, Viktor Tikhonov.

UPDATE: Team Russia lost Denis Kokarev and Sergei Soin and replaced them with forwards Alexander Svitov and Alex Semin.