Russia could have as many as four members of the 2013 NHL Draft class on its roster when the World Junior Championship opens Boxing Day.
Nichushkin, widely regarded as the top Russian available in June’s draft, has solidified himself as a KHL regular this season after spending stints in both the MHL and VHL earlier in the year. He has two points in six games for Chelyabinsk after starting the season with four goals and eight points in nine games in Russia’s junior league. Currently ranked 10th in Future Considerations November ranking for the draft, Nichushkin has represented Russia extensively last year with appearances at the World Junior A Challenge, World Under-17 Challenge and the World Under-18 Championship. He also skated in this year’s Subway Super Series against the Canadian Hockey League.
Yakimov also skated in the Subway Super Series and has twice represented Russia at the World Under-18 Championship. The six-foot-five, 202-pound forward had nine points in 19 games with Penza before joining Reaktor Nizhnekamsk in the MHL. In two games, Yakimov has one goal.
The Russians could have a big draft presence on the blueline, too.
Zadorov, who stands a towering six-foot-five and an imposing 225-pounds, has adjusted well to North American hockey after joining the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League this season. The massive Zadorov has managed to chip in at both ends of the ice with 12 points and a plus-26 rating in 31 games. The Moscow product skated in one Subway Super Series game, has previously skated internationally with Russia at the 2012 World Under-17 Challenge and the World Under-18 Championship.
Zadorov could patrol the blueline with Koledov, who has yet to represent Russia internationally.
Anton Slepyshev, who went unselected in the 2012 NHL Draft, could also find himself at the tournament. The 18-year-old has had an impressive start to the season and is a strong candidate to be picked up as an overager in 2013. Slepyshev served as Russia’s captain at the 2012 World Under-18 Championship.