The 10 Best Russian Forwards in Hockey
When this topic comes to mind, Alex Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin are two glaringly obvious names. But to have a top 10 list, there must be more than that.
Russia is a country that lives for it's hockey and despite sending the majority of it's best to the NHL every year, the Kontinental Hockey League thrives on native players.
Although Canada is the unofficial founder, Mother Russia has certainly made it's case for best hockey nation in the world.
Now, for a couple honorable mention awards, and mind that this is only commemorating those players who still lace up the skates today.
Vyacheslav Kozlov, Atlanta Thrashers
Sergei Samsonov, Carolina Hurricanes
Alexander Frolov, Los Angeles Kings
Aleksay Morozov, Ak Bars Kazan HC
No. 10: Alexander Radulov, Salavat Yulaev Ufa
PT/G: 0.736, CSP: 15.8%
The former Nashville Predator has helped Salavat to the best record in the KHL this season. He was also a member of the 2008 World Hockey Champion team for Russia.
Radulov was said to have a bright NHL future when he made the decision to return home to Russia, where he has teamed with Alexei Tereschenko and Alexander Perezhogin to form the most productive line in the league.
No. 9: Sergei Mozyakin, HC Atlant Moscow
PT/G: 0.965, CSP: 16.3%
Mozyakin is again the KHL's leading scorer, and he was drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2002. Although he never played a game in the NHL, he has been an incredibly productive player in his home land. Mozyakin is a little guy (5'10", 160 lbs.) with a big motor and a major scoring touch.
He was in a fierce competition with Metallurg Magnitogorsk's Evgeni Malkin in 2005 for the scoring title and also was a contributor for Team Russia, finishing the tournament with seven points.
No. 8: Nikolai Zherdev, New York Rangers
PT/G: 0.663, CSP: 10.0%
Well, OK. Zherdev is actually Ukrainian, but he is worth mentioning on this list. He might have not been as well known with the Blue Jackets but he has made a major contribution to the Rangers this season.
A wonderfully gifted shootout player, his stats never seem to indicate his true value. He has not yet reached the 100-goal plateau, but he could possibly reach it by the end of the year.
No. 7: Alexei Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens
PT/G: 0.811, CSP: 12.0%
Kaptain Kovalev never seems to disappoint (or show his true age). The 35-year-old wonder has done it all in his career. He delivered one of his best seasons in 2007-'08 finishing with 84 points, and he recently was named MVP of the NHL All-Star Game.
No. 6: Sergei Fedorov, Washington Capitals
PT/G: 0.953, CSP: 12.2%
For Fedorov, it is clear that his best days are over. He was widely considered one of the best in the game during the '90s, when he was a member of the Detroit Red Wings.
His career body of work is incredible, registering over a thousand points. He is currently 27 goals shy of 500 and he will turn 40 this coming December.
No. 5: Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
PT/G: 0.801, CSP: 15.0%
A second Capital on this list, and he isn't even the good one yet. But Semin has consistently played excellent hockey in the shadow of No. 8. He started out the 2008-'09 season on an absolute scoring spree and has continued it while he has been on the ice.
He is seven goals shy of the century mark for his career.
No. 4: Ilya Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers
PT/G: 0.996, CSP: 14.5%
Kovalchuk is one of the best natural goal scorers in the NHL, and he has yet to play with a high-quality linemate. He has scored 40 or more goals in four consecutive seasons, averaging nearly a point per game throughout his career.
A major force on the Russian National Team, Kovalchuk is also a fierce competitor.
No. 3: Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings
PT/G: 0.980, CSP: 15.0%
Datsyuk is one of the best two-way players in the league, right on par with fellow Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg. But he is a tremendous offensive force as well.
Utilizing a whip-flex stick, he can create movement with his shots that not many others can. It also allows for great puck control.
Datsyuk may be most renown for his unreal moves in the shootout. He is a goalies worst nightmare one-on-one. Don't believe it? Check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJXwO7jEpa0
No. 2: Alexander Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
PT/G: 1.278, CSP: 12.5%
Ovechkin is the best scorer the NHL has seen since the likes of Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky. He shoots pucks on net like he'll never get the chance again, which was a big reason why he scored 60 goals for the first time since Lemieux.
He brings so much fire to a game and he is also a physical force. There is really a monstrous gap between No. 3 and No. 2 on this list.
No. 1: Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins
PT/G: 1.257, CSP: 14.6%
Malkin gains this spot, but by the slimmest of margins. He too, produces points like a boardwalk skee-ball game spits out prize tickets. The special part of Malkin is that he has a second notch to take his game up to when needed.
Hyper-Malkin indeed. His slap shot is wicked and he's learning every game how to play defense. He is the next wave of two-way players.