Believe it or not, the Winter Olympics are less than seven months from getting under way in Sochi, Russia and now that the NHL has come to an agreement to send its players to the Games, national hockey organizations are preparing to build their teams by figuring out who will be invited to camps later this summer.
The first of the gold-medal contenders to unveil their 35-man camp list was Russia on Monday. They will have five goaltenders in camp, 12 defensemen and 18 forwards. That list will have to be cut down to 25 players for the Olympics as the rosters for these Games will be allowed to have 22 skaters and three goalies.
So here are the names on Russia's camp list with some translation help via Google.
Forwards: Artem Anisimov, Michael Varnakov, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kovalchuk, Denis Kokarev, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nikolai Kulemin, Evgeni Malkin, Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Perezhogin, Alexander Popov, Alexander Radulov, Alexander Semin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexei Tarashchenko, Viktor Tikhonov, Vadim Shipachev, Nail Yakupov
It goes largely as you would expect to see; however, you will notice one omission from the goaltenders: Ilya Bryzgalov. Not to say that is too surprising, but it is notable. Bryzgalov was just the No. 1 goalie for Russia in the World Championships earlier this summer and, like his past two seasons in Philadelphia, he wasn't that great. Either way it shouldn't be a huge deal, as the Russians have the reigning Vezina Trophy winner in Sergei Bobrovsky among the other names there.
The forwards boast some incredible skill, the same group of guys we've seen leading the Russian team for a few years now with some young blood added in. Russia will have the capability to run out some crazy power-play units with guys like Datsyuk, Malkin, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk, Semin and Radulov. Add in exciting young players like Yakupov, Tarasenko and Kuznetsov -- whom the Capitals are eagerly awaiting to come over from the KHL -- and the Russians have loads of talent.
The defense doesn't seem to be as deep, but a bit of caution: Just because a guy isn't playing in the NHL doesn't mean he's not good. The Russian defense won't have the same name recognition as the other positions, but they still have talent back there and some guys who can score in Voynov and Markov, should he remain healthy. Still, this is very obviously the weak link for the Russian team at this point.