So much for a 'super' series
Where have the great European defencemen gone?
There's a reason I didn't expect the so-called Super Series (which Canada now leads 2-0) to be much of a competition, and it looks something like this:
Russian NHLers 25-and-under
Forward: Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Frolov, Semin, Radulov, Zherdev
Defence: Volchenkov, Tyutin
The pipeline's been thin coming out of Russia for almost a decade now, with only a handful of elite snipers to show for all that development since 1999 or so.
Barring a big turnaround, I honestly can't see Russia's national team competing for a world title or Olympic gold in the near future, especially given the lack of quality defencemen being produced. (They've always had a hard time developing goaltenders.)
Not that Russia's the only country having that problem, as outside of the U.S., there have been very, very few elite non-forwards coming out of the non-Canadian nations:
American NHLers 25-and-under
Forward: Parise, Higgins, Stafford, Stempniak, Kessel, Gaustad, Kesler, Bochenski, Umberger, Slater, Pavelski, Brown, O'Sullivan, Backes, Booth, Larose, Fritsche, Moss, Shannon, Hollweg, Janssen
Defence: Whitney, Suter, Jack Johnson, Ballard, Carle, Komisarek, Lebda, Gleason, Wisniewski, Greene, Matt Jones
Swedish NHLers 25-and-under
Forward: Sjostrom, Loui Eriksson
Defence: Oduya, Edler
Finnish NHLers 25-and-under
Forward: Mikko Koivu, Jussi Jokinen, Tuomo Ruutu, Filppula
Goal: Lehtonen, Toivonen
Czech NHLers 25-and-under
Forward: Hemsky, Michalek, Olesz, Prucha, Plekanec, Hudler, Novotny, Klepis
Defence: Michalek, Klesla, Krajicek, Smid
Slovak NHLers 25-and-under
Forward: Gaborik, Marcel Hossa, Ruzicka
Defence: Meszaros, Jurcina
Goal: Budaj, Halak
Not a Lidstrom, Zubov or Kaberle among them.
Either these European countries have a lot of talent in their own leagues or elsewhere that will break into the NHL after age 25, or we're looking at a Canada/U.S. dominated international hockey landscape in the next decade.