Three Russians Drafted in First Round of 2012 NHL Draft

(courtesy of Getty)

For the first time since 2004, three Russians were selected in the first round of Friday’s NHL Draft in Pittsburgh. Much speculation was made beforehand as to whether the Edmonton Oilers would trade their first pick having picked first the past two years. Any suspicion was quickly put to rest when GM Steve Tambellini announced 18-year-old Nail Yakupov’s name making him the third Russian to ever be picked first overall in draft history.
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The Russians are Coming

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Sound the sirens!  Run to your shelters!  The Russians are invading!  No, seriously.  In the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, 8 Russians were taken.  You look at that number and think, “Hey.  That really isn’t that many.”  And you’d be right in that regard.  However, this is the first time in four years that the number of Russians has increased.  Dont believe me?  Refer to the chart below:

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Dueling Russians

This year’s NHL draft brings about a lot of talent, as it does year after year.  However, the crop of Russian players is not as copious as years past (most noticeably the 2010 NHL Entry Draft).  You will not find the likes of a Burmistrov, Tarasenko, Kuznetsov, Kabanov, Galiev, or Kitsyn.  But a new breed of Russian hockey player is quickly coming into the fold.  The two notables in this year’s draft are, the OHL’s, Vladislav Namestnikov and Alexander Khokhlachev.  Most likely first or second round draft picks, these two Russians have taken the next step in achieving their dreams of playing in the NHL by coming across the ocean from Russia to play in the top junior league in the world.

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