The Journey: CIBC Canada-Russia Series and Fastest Rising Prospects

Brayden Olafson


Hello fantasy hockey fans, and welcome to The Journey! If you’ve followed this column for any length of time, chances are you’ve become quite familiar with the great work of Jokke Nevalainen, Brad Phillips, Kevin LeBlanc and some other awesome writers around the site. My name is Brayden Olafson – I’m from a small town in Saskatchewan and have been working with DobberProspects for about two years, and I’ll be taking the reins here going forward. Like much of the staff at Dobber, I consider myself a student of the game at all levels, and love to get involved in discussions with fellow fans and readers. The best way to get a hold of me is through the comments here or on Twitter @olaf1393.

With those pleasantries aside, let’s get into some hockey. Since Dobber has just released his November edition of the Top 200 Fantasy Prospect Forwards, we’re going to have a look at some of the biggest risers and fallers. First though, we’re going to have a quick look at the U20 Canada-Russia series that wrapped up on Thursday night in Drummondville.

The CIBC Canada-Russia series was hosted by six different cities across Canada over the course of the last two weeks. Beginning in Vancouver on November 5, and wrapping up on Thursday in Drummondville. The six-game series in which the Russians challenge each league’s All-Star team twice, is one of the best annual opportunities for scouts to compare the top U20 Russian talents to the top U20 Canadians. The age bracket allows for already drafted players in addition to draft eligible players to get prime exposure leading up to the World Junior Championship roster selections. The WHL’s bench boss Tim Hunter will also head up Canada’s final roster at the holiday classic, so you can be sure that the results of this series will weigh heavily on the selections. It also so happens that the Russians’ will be slotted in Canada’s pool for round-robin play at the WJC, which added an extra element of evaluation to Hunter’s two-week cross-Canada escapade.

Neither the Dub, nor the O tallied a single official powerplay goal in their series, despite a combined 15 opportunities. Coach Hunter admitted that the team showed little to no cohesion on the man advantage, likely as a result of their unfamiliarity with each other. That narrative seemed to carry through the week for the CHL teams, which Hunter also admitted, was a factor in their evaluation. The Russians have provided consistent competition for the seemingly cyclical Canadian squads. This time around, the parity of the series was uncanny. While both of the first two CHL leagues were able to split their respective series with the Red Machine, the QMJHL failed to close in either of their contests. The Russians clinched their first win of the series since 2010 with a regulation goal to send the final game of the series to overtime. The six games had a World Junior-like excitement, despite it being the lowest scoring series in the 16-year history.

The dynamic scene of evaluating young hockey players means that the result