The annual series between the top Canadians in the CHL and top Russian-born junior players is once again underway, with Russia beating Team OHL 4-3 in North Bay last night to take a 5-4 lead in the series. While just about every top Canadian you’ve ever watched in the OHL makes the Canadian roster, we opted to highlight the OHLers who have played for the other side. Here is a list of the top Russian OHLers to play for Team Russia in the Super Series in the past five tournaments.
2016 – Mikhail Sergachev (Windsor Spitfires)
In what is a pretty strong year for Russian OHLers, with players like Nikita Korostelev, Dmitry Sokolov and Artur Tyanulin on the roster, Sergachev stands as the most talented of the bunch. The Montreal Canadiens prospect was a +1 in the first game of the series, and there’s a chance that this was the first look at the defenceman since his return to the OHL for some fans. Back in Windsor, Sergachev has already notched two assists in two games. This comes after a rookie season in which he 57 points en route to winning OHL Defenceman of the Year.
2015 – Damir Sharipzyanov (Owen Sound Attack)
With the 2015 group not being quite as strong, Sharipzyanov worked as part of a Russian defence corps that also featured Dmitrii Sergeev and Aleksander Mikulovich from the OHL. It wasn’t his first time playing in the Super Series, as he had been a part of Team Russia the year before as well. Known more for his defence than offence, he was nonetheless a -1 in the only game he played that year (not uncommon because of the travel requirements facing the Russians). The Attack alumni parlayed his play in the series into a spot on the World Junior team for Russia.
2014 – Sergei Tolchinsky (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Only two Russians made the cut for the 2014 team, with the aforementioned Sharipzyanov being joined by the dynamic Tolchinsky. Tolchinsky had played in the tournament the year before, but his game in 2014 set him apart, notching two assists. Scoring is what Tolchinsky does best, as the former 12th pick in the Import Draft was in the midst of what would become his second straight 90+ point season in the OHL for the Greyhounds. Russia would go on to win the Super Series in 2014.
2013 – Nikolay Goldobin (Sarnia Sting)
Another dynamic scorer, Goldobin was joined by Tolchinsky, Mikulovich and Nikita Zadorov as the OHL representatives for Team Russia. Playing in two games for the Russians, Goldobin managed an assist for what was a tightly contested series, with Russia outscoring the CHL teams in the tournament, but ultimately losing the series. Goldobin fould finish his season in Sarnia with 38 goals and 94 points before being drafted in the first round of the following NHL Draft by the San Jose Sharks.
2012 – Nail Yakupov (Sarnia Sting)*
*Was playing for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk at the time of the Super Series.
One of the more interesting circumstances surrounding a player at the tournament involves Yakupov, who was joined by Zadorov and Daniil Zharkov as OHLers on the Russian team. He played in all six games of the series, scoring two goals and two assists. What makes Yakupov’s participation interesting is the fact that he even played at all. After spending two dynamite years in Sarnia, representing Russia in the previous two Super Series tournaments, Yakupov was selected 1st overall by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Draft. However, due to the lockout that took away the first couple months of the season, he played in the KHL, and therefore, was made available for the Super Series. After the lockout ended, Yakupov went on to begin and complete his rookie season in the NHL, scoring 31 points in 48 games.