Yakupov, Grigorenko lead Russia's WJC invites

Tuesday, 12.04.2012 / 2:05 PM
By Adam Kimelman

First-round NHL Draft picks Nail Yakupov and Mikhail Grigorenko are two of the 10 players who helped Russia win the silver medal at last year's World Junior Championship and have been invited to try out for the 2013 team.
Russia, hosting this year's event for the first time since 2001, will hold its camp in Novogorsk from Dec. 7-20 before shifting to Ufa for the start of the tournament.
The 2013 WJC runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, and Russia will play in Pool B with Canada, Slovakia, the U.S. and Germany. It opens the tournament Dec. 26 against Slovakia.
Yakupov, taken by the Edmonton Oilers with the first pick of the 2012 NHL Draft, had no goals but nine assists in seven games at last year's tournament. Grigorenko, taken 12th by the Buffalo Sabres, had two goals and three assists in six games, but was at less than 100 percent for most of the tournament due to an ankle injury.
Russia also has invited both goaltenders from last year's tournament to camp -- Buffalo Sabres prospect Andrey Makarov and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Andrey Vasilevskiy. Vasilevskiy, the 19th pick of last year's draft, went 4-1 with a pair of shutouts in five games.
Also returning from last year's team are forwards Nikita Kucherov, Yaroslav Kosov and Alexander Khokhlachev, and defensemen Artem Sergeev, Mikhail Naumenkov and Nikita Nesterov.
A number of top 2013 NHL Draft prospects also earned invitations. Among them are forwards Valeri Nichushkin and Bogdan Yakimov. Nichushkin, a 6-foot-4, 196-pound right wing, has two points in six games with Chelyabinsk in the KHL after starting the season in the minor leagues. NHL Central Scouting rated him No. 1 in its preliminary ranking of Russian skaters for the 2013 draft.
"He's a big, strong two-way winger," Central Scouting Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "He's tough to stop when driving to the net from either wing -- a defenseman's nightmare in one-on-one situations when at top speed. He handles the puck well in traffic, makes god decisions in those situations. Has a high overall skill level and moves well for a big guy. Smooth hands. Good playmaker."
Also invited was Bogdan Yakimov, No. 2 on Central Scouting's list of Russian skaters for the draft. The 6-foot-5, 202-pound center has nine points in 19 games for Penza in the VHL, Russia's top developmental league.
"He's a center with excellent size," Stubb said. "He's physically strong and can use his size, strength and reach without taking unnecessary penalties. He possesses a good shot, moves the puck with ease at the right time. A steady competitor. Very mobile for a player of his size."