For anyone who is wondering, the Russian Superleague got underway yesterday with a full slate of games. Bolt Prospects will post game results when they become available on the league's official statistics site.
Unofficial scores and stats from the Dynamo website:
SKA defeated Chelyabinsk 3-2. No boxscore available. Anton But continues with St. Petersburg this season.
Dynamo defeated Omsk 3-1. Evgeny Artyukhin had 4 PIMs for Omsk.
Tver defeated Spartak 6-3. Albert Vishnyakov was scoreless for Spartak.
Amur defeated Kazan 3-2. Dimitri Kazionov had 1 assist and 2 penalty minutes in the match for Ak Bars. Goaltender Vasily Koshechkin loses his first start for Kazan to begin the season 0-1-0. Former Lightning player Nikita Alexeev also had an assist for Kazan.
Long time readers of the website know that the staff here at Bolt Prospects has a bit of a chequered past with that other hockey prospects website, Hockeysfuture. Without getting to deep into the specifics, after years of myself, Chad and Tim working the Lightning page on that website we as a group had a falling out with management over what seemed to us to be obvious bias in their decision making process against us and the Lightning's prospects. It wasn't something that happened overnight and we didn't leave all at once but eventually Tim had the idea to start a blog and we seized on it and started making plans. The rest, as they say, is history.
Long time readers of this website also know that we've never been afraid to call out Hockeysfuture for what we've seen as continuing bias in the product over at that website. One of the most obvious points of contention we had with HF was their refusal for almost two years to assign a writer to cover the Lightning's prospects. It wasn't until shortly after the Lightning internet community responded strongly to an incident in which a high ranking HF writer called prospects Blair Jones and Justin Keller trash and Bolt Prospects' subsequent smackdown of said writer that HF finally conceded and assigned longtime writer and all around standup guy Phil Laugher to cover the team's prospects. Laugher earned his street cred with the Lightning fan base when he apologized publicly to Lightning fans about a year prior when HF released a set of rankings that had NHL regular Paul Ranger 9th in the organization, soon-to-be NHL regular Nick Tarnasky 19th in the organization, and Keller and Russian superprospect Vasily Koshechkin out of the rankings altogether.
Under Laugher, it has been our website's opinion that the product on HF has improved by leaps and bounds. Considering he's been struggling upstream against an online editor who clearly has ulterior motives, their site has actually become tolerable over the last year. As such, we've had an unofficial truce with HockeysFuture over the past 14 or so months. Unfortunately, Phil didn't write the horribly divorced from reality draft review HF just put out for the Lightning, a piece so bad I got multiple e-mails from the Bolt Prospects staff within moments of their reading it. Considering their strong negative reaction to the article, I'm afraid we as a site have to respond.
Now, admittedly I have no idea who Elisa Hatch is. And let me just say ahead of time, it's not her fault Hockeysfuture's editors and management decided to put her in a difficult situation and its not her fault they offered her so little editorial support in the course of writing this article. Nearest as I can tell this is Hatch's first solo article at HF and unfortunately, without knowledgable editors who actually care about the subject matter, the quality of the work suffered.
Bottom line: several of the contentions of the article are diametrically opposed to the professional opinions of several reputable scouting outlets including the Lightning's scouting staff, THN, Red Line Report and the NHL Central Scouting Service. You don't have to take it from us that the article is flawed. Take it from those other professionals.
Russian Hockey Digest's Yura Zyuzin has released his site's Top-20 Most NHL Ready Russian Prospects. Checking in at 9th on the list is Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin while in 18th is hulking winger Evgeny Artyukhin.
Kudos to Zyuzin for using Artyukhin's Bolt Prospects administered "R2" nickname in his report.
Damian Cristodero of the St. Pete Times is reporting on his blog goaltender Vasily Koshechkin will stay in Russia this season. Crisdotero cites a conversation with Koshechkin's agent Jay Grossman in which the netminder expressed a sense of obligation to honor the final year of his Superleague contract. Koshechkin's contract was recent sold from Lada Togliatti to Ak Bars Kazan of the Russian Superleague. Early reports from this summer that had Koshechkin on the way to CSKA turned out to be unsubstantiated.
UPDATE: (May 30) In the Russian newspaper, "Soviet Sport," another version of why Koshechkin's contract with the Lightning is unsigned was published.
It is rumored that Koshechkin wants to test himself at the training camp and sign the contract only after the camp if he will see by the results of the camp "enough possibilities for the career growth." As it was reported he wants to go to the camp without a contract with any team and after the camp he plans to sign a contract with Tampa or CSKA.
Anyway, those reports, no matter what is the truth if there is a truth in both newspaper notes, say that Koshechkin plans to try himself at least at the Lightning camp.
While Sport-Express in Russia is reporting Lightning goaltending prospect Vasily Koshechkin plans to continue his career next year in the NHL and is "close" to signing a contract with Tampa Bay, the Lightning is saying not so fast.
Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster confirmed to Bolt Prospects (BP) the clubâ€™s strong interest to sign Koshechkin, but referred to the two sides even being in negotiations as â€œa bit of a stretch.â€
Here's what we learned this week in communication with the Lightning:
2006 first round draft pick Riku Helenius made a successful return from major shoulder surgery when he suited up for Finland at an Under-19 tournament in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. The Lightning was in attendance when the goaltender played his first game since early autumn, but Finland was on their heels all night and Russia scored two power play goals to beat Helenius and Finland 4-0. Finland didn't fare much better in Helenius' second game, a 5-1 loss to Sweden.
While the GAA may not look ideal for the first rounder, the Lightning said he played well. The important thing to look at here is he's playing again and is in good health. In fact, after missing nearly all the 2006-2007 season, a healthy Helenius is now working out twice a day.
Team Russia defeated Sweden 3-1 today to take home the bronze medal at the World Championships. Starter Alexander Eremenko made 32 stops on 33 shots faced for the win. Lightning prospect netminder Vasily Koshechkin again served the role of backup. The young goaltender finished the tournament 3-0 with a 2.67 GAA and .879 save percentage.
In the gold medal match, Canada defeated Finland 4-2. Columbus forward Rick Nash was named tournament MVP.
Russia was defeated 2-1 today in their semifinal matchup against Finland, meaning the Russians will now play Sweden on Sunday in the bronze medal match. Goaltender Alexander Eremenko allowed 2 goals on 19 shots in the game to take the loss. Eremenko, who is a long time veteran of the Russian national team in international teams, entered the tournament as backup to Lightning prospect Vasily Koshechkin but outplayed the young netminder to take his starting job for the medal round.
The numbers haven't necessarily been pretty, but Lightning prospect netminder Vasily Koshechkin is now 3-0 for Russia at the ongoing World Championships. Koshechkin and the Russians defeated Switzerland today 6-3 today in their qualifying round matchup. Koshechkin stopped 13 shots in the game and also recorded an assist on a first period Ilya Kovalchuk goal. Russia and Sweden, both 4-0 in Group E, will square off tomorrow in their final game of the qualifying round.