Russians Invade CHL Subway Super Series

The 2010 CHL Subway Super Series just ended and for the first time ever the team from Russia won the series.

Team Russia showed great puck control, strong offensive ability and was very gritty. Russian players are known for their offensive ability but this year’s team brought a new element to their game, which was playing with tenacity and big hits.

After finishing the 2010 Winter Olympics in sixth place, it was clear that something had to change to bring Russia back up to their former status of one of hockey’s elite. The past few Super Series, team Russia was made up of second tier Russian players due to their teams not letting their top players go play.

This year was different, as Team Russia wanted to make a statement that they are going to be a threat again. The KHL took a 10-day break to allow its top Russian Prospects the chance to go play.

Russia’s best player was Maxim Kitsyn, who was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in the sixth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Kitsyn is 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds and looked a lot bigger on the ice. He has tremendous speed and stick handling skills.

Kitsyn scored four goals and six points in the six game series. Kitsyn showed he can handle the North American style of the game and will be an offensive leader at this year’s WJHC. Take a chance on Kitsyn as he has all the tools to be an offensive star in the NHL but is a couple years away from making the show.

In the final game when his team needed him the most Dmitry Shikin stood on his head. Shikin made 19 saves in the second period and stopped 38 shots in the contest. When Russia was up 4-2 and Team WHL had wave after wave of pressure, Shikin came up with the big stops. Shikin showed great composure after being pulled the night prior after letting in two goals on three shots in the first four minutes.

Keep an eye on Shikin as we approach the WJC, as his play in Game Six may be enough to land him the starting role for Team Russia.

Don’t read too much into the fact that the CHL finally lost to Team Russia, as you have to remember that the Russians have been playing together for the entire series where as the CHL teams dress different rosters in each game. The OHL team kept their unbeaten streak alive, as they are now 16-0 against Russia in this series.

CHL Players to keep an eye on as we head towards the WJHC and the 2011 NHL Entry Draft:

Sean Couturier scored two assists for Team QMJHL. He is a big, skilled playmaking center who at 6’4 could make the jump into the NHL right away. Couturier has 14 goals and 34 points in 26 QMJHL to sit in sixth place for scoring.

Ryan Murphy didn’t score a point for Team OHL but he is scoring a lot of points in the OHL. Murphy has 11 goals and 35 points in 20 OHL games. Murphy is currently fourth overall in scoring amongst ALL skaters. This kid can put up a lot of points from the blueline, as he is only four points off of his season total from last year.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was held of the score sheet for Team WHL but there is no denying his skill level.  He is being called the ‘Pavel Datsyuk’ of the WHL.  Nugent-Hopkins has five goals and 30 points in 22 WHL games this season.

Couturier should make the WJHC team for sure with Murphy and Nugent-Hopkins having an outside shot of playing for Team Canada.

It is not a very deep draft pool this year so if you are going to make a play for a first round draft pick make sure you get a pick in the top five and at the very least top 10. All three of these stars could be gone by the fourth pick.

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