The Bruins are getting a well-deserved bye week. We here at Bruins Daily, however, don’t have that luxury. So, to make the most of the next few days, your’s truly and Tim Rosenthal came up with an idea to project the men’s hockey rosters for this year’s Winter Olympics if they included the talented players from the National Hockey League.
To say 2014 was a disappointment for Russia is a major understatement. Loaded with talent combined with the games being hosted in Sochi, Alex Ovechkin and company were deemed as one of the favorites during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
After winning two of their three games in the preliminary round, the Russians had no problem with a weak Norway squad, sending them home in the opening round of the medal round. The win set up a quarterfinal date with Team Finland. Thanks to a 3-1 upset, the Russians run for a gold medal came to a screeching halt. Finland went on to win the bronze medal after defeating Team USA in the consolation game.
The returning World Cup of Hockey in 2016 didn’t produce much better results for Russia. After another 2-1 round robin record, Russia took on the host country of Canada in the semifinal round. The eventual champions proved too much for Russia, beating them 5-3.
Here’s what a potential roster would look like with the Olympic Athletes from Russia if NHLers were allowed to participate in the 2018 winter games.
Forwards: Alexander Ovechkin, Alexander Radulov, Artemi Panarin, Evgeni Malkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nikita Kucherov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Vladislav Namestnikov, Artem Anisimov, Alexander Burmistrov Illya Kovalchuk (KHL), Pavel Datsyuk (KHL) Nikita Gusev (KHL) and Dmitry Kagarlitsky (KHL)
Rationale: With the emergence of guys like Panarian, Kuznetsov, Kucherov and Tarasenko to name a few, Team Russia would have had one of its best groups of forwards in recent memory. With a lethal combination of speed and hockey smarts, opposing defenses would have their hands full with the talented group of Russian forwards.
One interesting name on the list? Pavel Datsyuk. The future hall of famer has 33 points (8 goals, 25 assists) in 31 games for SKA of the KHL. Not bad stats by any means, but with a younger, more speedy group of Russians waiting for their chance at a gold medal, Datsyuk wouldn’t see much playing time in what will likely be his last Olympic go-around.
Defensemen: Ivan Provorov, Alexei Emelin, Dmitry Orlov, Nikita Zaitsev, Slava Voynov (KHL), Mikhail Sergachev, Viktor Antipin and Dmitry Kulikov.
Rationale: Nobody on this blue line scares you. As has been the case in years past, Russia is very top heavy offensively, but not as strong on the defensive end. The Russians would have no problems scoring goals, but they would have trouble keeping the puck out of their own net despite a solid trio of goalies.
Goalies: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Sergei Bobrovsky and Semyon Varlamov.
Rationale: This goaltending core is another bright spot. One can argue that Vasilevskiy would be the starter over fellow early-season Vezina candidate Bobrovsky. The Russians could easily split time between the two and wouldn’t miss a beat between the pipes.