Friday, June 18, 2010

Russian Ranger Draft Picks

With Gordie Clark telling all of the beat writers that he thinks quite highly of Vladimir Tarasenko as a possible selection next week at the NHL Draft, I figured I would go through the Rangers' history of Russian draft picks. I think I covered pretty much every one and ran it through Russian hockey writer Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy/Sovetsky Sport just to be sure I got things right. As with picks from any country, it is a mixed bag at best. Of the 29 players, 20 have yet to play in the NHL and only five (of the other nine) have played more than six games for the Rangers.

7th round, 141st overall: Sergei Kapustin (LW): At 29 years old, Kapustin was in the prime of his career but never made it to North America. A shame, as he was a true winner with the USSR dynasty of the 70s.

10th round, 202nd overall: Roman Oksiuta (RW): Had not made it to North America before he was traded to Edmonton in 1992 as part of the Kevin Lowe deal.

5th Round, 85th overall: Sergei Zubov (D):Perhaps the most underrated Ranger ever, Zubov averaged nearly a point per game over his time on Broadway before being unceremoniously dealt with Petr Nedved to Pittsburgh for over-the-hill Luc Robitaille and Ulf Samuelsson. After going on to win a second Cup with Dallas in '99, Zubov left the NHL in 2009 and racked up 42 points in 53 games over the KHL last season. He played 1,232 NHL games including playoffs - over a 1,000 of them after leaving the Rangers (1,035 to be precise).

12th round, 244th overall: Sergei Nemchinov (C): Sarge was a rock solid center who could be counted on defensively while adding a little bit of offense. He lasted nearly six seasons on Broadway before going to Vancouver with Brian Noonan for Esa Tikkanen's second Ranger stint and Russ Courtnall.

1st round, 15th overall: Alexei Kovalev (LW): Speaking of two stints, Kovalev played 536 games in all as a Ranger tantalizing and frustrating us fans. Kovy was the first-ever Russian selected in the first round of the NHL draft and he showed why with stellar play in 1994. Eventually, however, his inconsistency sent him packing. Twice. The second being one of Sather's worse trades, dealing him for Josef Balej and a second round pick (that never panned out). He is still playing and pissing off fans, just up in Ottawa.

9th round, 191st overall: Vjateslav Uvaev (G): Uvaev never made it to North America, spending most of his career in Russia before a span in Italy.

11th round, 235th overall: Vitali Chinakhov (C): Never a big point scorer, Chinakhov spent his career in Russia.

5th round, 120th overall: Dimitri Starostenko (W): Two seasons after Starostenko was drafted, he came to the States and gave the NHL a shot. He never made it. The Belarussian (close enough) spent parts of three seasons in Binghamton - and 11 ECHL games (where he had nine goals and two assists) - before giving up and going home. Having lived there, I don't blame him.

10th round, 240th overall: Vladimir Vorobiev (W): When I was in Binghamton I covered Vlad, and saw firsthand his size and ability. At 6'3. 200, Vorobiev had a nice package of skills and some good hands. He just didn't have that x-factor, the push to make himself great. He would get to the show - 31 games over two seasons with the Rangers - but was eventually dealt to Edmonton for Kevin Brown (who?). Vlad was still playing in Russia last year.

3rd round, 61st overall: Maxim Galanov (D): Another guy I would later see in Binghamton, Galanov spent three seasons in the A. He got a six game stint in the show, which was enough for Pittsburgh to decide they wanted him when the Rangers put him on waivers; he went on to play 122 games in the NHL in all and is still playing in Russia. Galanov had good size and skated well but wasn't gritty enough

4th round, 86th overall: Sergei Olumpijev (C): Six-foot-four, 220 pound winger was drafted and came to North America to play in the O. After two seasons of juniors, he started on a minor league career that saw him play on seven teams in four leagues over five seasons. I had to have seen him when he was with Muskegon of the UHL but don't remember; I do recall seeing him with the RHI Sacramento River Rats, where he had just 19 points in 27 games (by comparison his teammate Gerry St. Cyr had 89 points in just one more game).

7th round, 162nd overall: Sergei Kondrashkin (RW): Never came to North America and was out of hockey five seasons after being drafted.

10th round, 242nd overall: Andrei Kudinov (C): Like Starostenko, Kudinov came over to play in Binghamton for a few seasons before going home. He scored 76 points for the baby Rangers in 155 games but, back in Russia would play his final season alongside Oksiuta of all people (kinda interesting coincidence).

11th round, 261st overall: Pavel Komarov (D): Komarov played four games over three seasons for the Binghamton Rangers. The only mention I could find of him with the Blueshirts was getting cut during training camp one season. Judging by his numbers, he was a defensive defenseman who wasn't a fighter but took a lot of bad penalties.

11th round, 268th overall: Maxim Smelnitski (C): Like the last five Russian Ranger draft picks, Smelinitski came over, saw Binghamton and left for home. His tenure was the shortest - just one game.

4th round, 100th overall: Alexander Korobolin (D): At 6'4, 225 you had to think he had some grit but he managed to make it through 21 games in Hartford before running home to Russia. He had one point (a goal!) and 22 PIM.

6th round, 135th overall: Yuri Litvinov (C): Litvinov never played on this side of the world and didn't play much on the other side either; he managed just 133 games over six seasons in Russia before quitting.

9th round, 209th overall: Vitali Yeremeyev (G): Ok, he is really from Kazakhstan but I had to include him. Yeremeyev was the first pick of the 9th round; following him in the same round were Tim Thomas, Johan Hedberg, Evgeni Nabokov, Tomas Vokoun and John Grahame. Yeah. Four games as a Ranger, four losses. He returned to Russia after that and became a cult hero for Dynamo Moscow fans (according to Dmitry, himself a diehard Dynamo fan). Yeremeyev won the championship in 2005 alongside some guy named Ovechkin and is still playing at a good level - 16-11-2, 2.37 and .920 last season for the 10th place team.

5th round, 110th overall: Alexei Vasiliev (D): Like Yeremeyev, Vasiliev is still contributing in the KHL. Before going back there, he played 171 games for the Wolf Pack and helped Hartford win the Calder Cup in 2000. Unfortunately he didn't show he could help the big boys, going pointless with one minor penalty in his one game on Broadway.

8th round, 195th overall: Ilja Gorohov (D): Gorohov played one game here in America, and it was with the Las Vegas Thunder in 96-97. The defenseman returned to Russia and has steadily played there ever since. He played last season with Salavat alongside Vorobiev, Max Kondratiev and Dmitri Kalinin (as well as other familiars NHL renegade Alex Radulov, Viktor Kozlov and Oleg Tverdovsky).

3rd round, 76th overall: Dmitry Subbotin (F): A career Russian-leaguer, Subbotin never came to play for the Rangers or their affiliates and was actually selected off our roster by Columbus in the 2000 expansion draft. He didn't play for them either.

8th round, 226th overall: Evgeny Gusakov (LW): Gusakov is a curious case. He showed up to camp in '99, showed off his massive frame (6'6, 210 lbs) and was promptly sent to Baie-Comeau of the QMJHL. He had a decent time (53 points in 67 games) and would get one scoreless game in Hartford before the end of the season. Gusakov went back to the Q the next season, had 31 points in 32 games and then essentially fell off the map. He went to Belarus in 2001 and played 44 games, then managed 15 games over the next two seasons in Russia. Injuries maybe?

9th round, 254th overall: Alexei Bulatov (LW): Bulatov was on the '99 training camp roster as well but I guess he didn't like it here and the team had no qualms with letting him go home afterwards. He played 21 games for three different teams that season in Russia.

2nd round, 40th overall: Fedor Tyutin (D): Oh Toots. Dealt to Columbus for flash-with-no-substance Nik Zherdev, Tyutin was a strong defensive player and he complimented Dan Girardi well. He actually hit players around the Ranger net and was smart on both sides of the ice. And Glen, in his wisdom, replaced the youngster with Kalinin a day later. Ugh.

8th round, 230th overall: Leonid Zhvachkin (D): Selected right after Aaron Voros of all people, Zhvatchkin went to training camp and was assigned to Hartford but never played in the A. He ended up with Guelph in the OHL alongside Tyutin. Where Toots was gone the next season, Zhvachkin or Zvachkin or Zhvachin (depending on where you look) stayed another year, was traded and went home in the offseason not to return to North America.

2nd round, 54th overall: Artem Anisimov (C): It is fair to say that the jury is still out. After pathetically tepid play for much of this season, Anisimov found his game with Prust and Shelley during the stretch run. Arty said he felt more comfortable on the ice with them there, so of course John Tortorella has already said he will break up that line this fall.

1st round, 17th overall: Alexei Cherepanov (RW): RIP. Cherry dropped down the draft board for some reason and everyone was happy to see a Jagr replacement. But whether it was heart problems (myocarditis) that killed him or alleged steroids, we'll never know if he would have come over here to play and if he would have been any good.

3rd round, 75th overall: Evgeny Grachev (C): After being hailed as another big Russian who will swoop in and save us, Grachev made the jump to the AHL last season and was underwhelming by all accounts. He managed 28 points in 80 games and was accused of disappearing many nights. Whether we chalk it up to a transition season or his true colours has yet to be seen.

7th round, 200th overall: Mikhail Pashnin (D): Pashnin was also drafted first overall by CSKA Moscow and went on to collect five points in 44 games with them. He is signed through next season but will come to the summer prospect camp and the Rangers are still quite high on him.



Dennis said...

I don't know why the Rangers have had such a boner for Russian players in recent years, but they hardly ever pan out (as Scotty has demonstrated). Many Russian players seem to be unable to take it up a notch and succeed in the NHL like Anisimov, Grachev, who both seem lazy or uninspired to me. And you always question whether they desire the Cup or just a nice paycheck and whether they will just leave for the KHL if the Russian paycheck turns out to be bigger. Do the Rangers think they will land the next Ovechkin or Bure or something? How inconceivable is that?

Even the Swedes and other Europeans have been better suited to the NHL of late.

Instead of always over-reaching for Russians and other Europeans who have to transition to North American hockey, why don't the Rangers focus on Canadians and Americans who already know the system?

Jesse said...

At first I disagreed with Torts' decision to break up the 4th line, but heard his comments on why, and I warmed up to the idea. Torts said "We want him (Anisimov) to be a scorer. He can't stay on the 4th line." As good Arty has been on the 4th line, he won't get a lot of minutes there, and if he's on the 3rd or 2nd line, he'll get more, not much more, but more playing time and more scoring chances.

mike said...

When you see something like this you realize one thing--why the hell am I a Ranger fan? Is our management EVER good? We are right there with the Maple Leafs in terms of pathetic management for an Original Six team.

If Messier is our next GM, the specter of the Zubov trade will haunt us again.....

Scotty Hockey said...

Jesse - so you stop calling them the fourth line and bump them up to the third. They were the first line over the last few games of last season ... Make Drury the fourth line center he plays like and give the minutes to the JAB line.