While the echo of the sensational hat trick by Maxim Kitsyn still goes on, this week let's try and track down Russian players in the CHL. Many players from the Motherland crossed the ocean this summer and it's interesting to see how they are doing.
The WHL counts two players from Russia and one each from Belarus and Latvia. Igor Revenko from Minsk is having a good season in the W so far, and in his third year in the Canadian juniors he's tallied 18 points in 17 games, with seven goals and eleven assists. It's surprising that the dynamic Prince Albert Raiders' winger isn't drafted yet, but that happens with Europeans sometimes. The Russian contingent in the WHL is made up of Mikhail Fisenko and Alex Kuvaev. Kuvaev is having limited success in Lethbridge with four goals and one assist in thirteen games, while Fisenko is a valuable member of the Calgary Hitmen with four points in nine games. Fisenko is another player which I think is good enough to be drafted, even if he doesn't have a star offensive upside. Oilers' prospect Kristians Pelss is struggling to produce for the Edmonton Oil Kings, with only one goal and one assist in thirteen games.
The OHL and QMJHL are traditionally more friendly leagues for Russians due to the less physical and more skilled game. In Ontario there are 10 players from Russia, 11 if we count Alex Galchenyuk, who is still trying to decide if he represents America or Russia on the international stage. Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting is probably the most impressive one so far, topping the OHL with 27 points in 15 games. The exciting 2012 eligible winger is having a very strong season so far and now he looks like the front runner from the first overall pick at the 2012 NHL draft. 2011 eligible Alexander Khokhlachev (Windsor Spitfires) and Vladislav Namestnikov (London Knights) are showing great things as well. Khokhlachev scored 19 points in 15 games, while Namestnikov scored the same amount but skating in only 13 games. Even if different players, Khokhlachev is more complete, Namestnikov is more of a scorer even if he got a good amount of assists so far, both are first round material.