In surprising news this morning, Lightning 2011 first rounder Vladislav Namestnikov was cut from Russiaâ€™s representation for the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships.
The news was reported by respected Russian hockey journalist Dmitry Chesnokov, who is based in the U.S.
Chesnokov (@dchesnokov) called the move a â€œsurprise,â€ saying he was told Namestnikov was viewed as a first/second line forward and â€œthere are players on those lines better than he is.â€
Namestnikov was originally practicing on Russiaâ€™s top line. He had a penalty in Russiaâ€™s first pre-tournament game and was not on the scoresheet in their second contest.
"Back to London," Namestnikov tweeted after the news was released.
Namestnikov returns to the London Knights of the OHL where he has 40 points in 33 games.
Canada 7 vs. Switzerland 1
RW Brett Connolly, CAN: 0-0-0, 0 PIM
Canada earned their second pre-tournament win in two games before the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships in Alberta. Connolly did not register a point, but as one of the teamâ€™s alternate captains was entrusted with penalty kill duty â€“ a sign of respect from legendary junior coach Don Hay.
Russia 5 vs. Czech Republic 3
These totals are very unofficial as no score was listed on the tournamentâ€™s official site and the boxscore was posted on a message board. If it helps, one of the comments from someone at the game said Kucherov looked good. Letâ€™s just assume itâ€™s true. Namestnikov and Nesterov werenâ€™t on the scoresheet, so they could have been scoreless or they may not have played. In fact, respected Russian reporter Dmitry Chesnokov is reporting Namestnikov was cut from the team. Nesterov and Kucherov made the team. (Photo of Kucherov's celebration is from the USA game earlier this week)
Slovakia 0 vs. Finland 3
D Adam Janosik, SVK: 0-0-0, 0 PIM
Finland topped Slovakia in pre-tournament action Wednesday.
Russia 6 vs. USA 3 (Pre-tournament match)
Russia beat the U.S. 6-3 in Red Deer, Alberta, Tuesday night in pre-World Junior Championship exhibition play. The stats listed above are unofficial and based off comments from reporters at the game. Kucherovâ€™s first goal was on the power play and his second was scored into an empty net. Russia still has to cut six players, but all Lightning prospects should be safe. The â€œrealâ€ games start the day after Christmas. (Pictured: Kucherov scoring on Stars first rounder Jack Campbell)
Five Tampa Bay Lightning prospects will proudly don their home countryâ€™s sweater this holiday season to compete in the Under-20 World Junior Championships. The WJCs are arguably the most exciting international hockey tournament outside of the Olympics and playing for oneâ€™s country during this event is a career builder.
Last year Carter Ashton, Brett Connolly, and Canada came up short in the finals, allowing five third period goals to Russia in the gold medal game to lose, 5-3. Host team USA beat Sweden for the bronze in Buffalo, New York.
The last Lightning prospect to win a gold medal was Dustin Tokarski for Canada in 2009 when â€œThe Tikâ€ was player of the game in the championship game â€“ a win over Victor Hedman and Sweden. Dana Tyrell was also a part of that Canadian team, but was injured in pre-tournament action and missed the tournament.
Hereâ€™s a look at each Lightning prospect participating in this yearâ€™s event, to be held December 26 through January 5 in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta. Check NHL Network listings for broadcasts.
Halifax Mooseheads 2 @ Moncton Wildcats 0
D Daniel Milan, MON: 0-0-0, -1, 0 PIM, 2 SOG, 0 Hits
Season Totals: 29 GP, 0-4-4, -9, 27 PIM
Milanâ€™s scoreless streak hit 11 games in the loss.
QMJHL Note: Lightning prospect Adam Janosik of Gatineau has joined Team Slovakia in preparation for the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships.
Guelph Storm 1 @ London Knights 3
C Vladislav Namestnikov, LDN: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 33 GP, 17-23-40, +10, 28 PIM
Former Lightning camper Seth Griffith scored an empty net goal for his 26th goal of the season as London topped division rival Guelph, 3-1. The undrafted Griffith has 46 points in 33 games to go with a plus-17 rating. He has a 12 game point streak going and has had at least a point in 24 of his last 26 games. He was passed over in last yearâ€™s draft and camped with the Lightning before being sent back to the OHL without a contract. He sits in sixth in the OHL in points and is second in goals.
Owen Sound Attack 3 @ Sarnia Sting 5
D Geoffrey Schemitsch, OS: 0-0-0, E, 0 PIM
Season Totals: 22 GP, 0-7-7, -1, 16 PIM
Likely 2012 top-3 pick Nail Yakupov had a goal and an assist in Sarniaâ€™s win over Geoffrey Schemitsch and Owen Sound. The Russian has 51 points in 25 games. Yakupov, Lightning prospect Nikita Kucherov, and Quebec Rempart Mikhail Grigorenko are expected to be the offensive leaders for Russia in the upcoming U20 World Junior Championships.