Yeah, yeah... I know they're not the Soviets anymore, I just love the iconic jersey they wore back in the day. Anyway, here is Nitzy's Hockey Den's choices for the 2010 Rusian Olympic squad. Click the chart below to open it larger.
I tried to use guys who are eligible for the Russians (pretty sure Antropov, Ponikarovsky and others are ineligible), and I "e-scouted" the Kontinental League to see who may help round out the squad. Feel free to add or argue any picks I have made.
Anyway you look at it, it's quite a team. They will definitely be one of the favourites (along with Canada) going into the games. The Russians are absolutely stacked on Left Wing but not so much at the other forward spots. At center, after Malkin and Datsyuk are slotted one and two, the quality drops off. I went to the KHL for enigmatic Alexei Yashin who is having a fine season for St.Petersburg. Sergei Fedorov, playing for Magnitogorsk likewise would make a nice fourth-line center. I have added New York Ranger Artem Anisimov as the thirteenth forward over the likes of Maxim Afinogenov and Stanislav Chistov who has 19 points in 20 games for the Mettalurg.
The right side is the weakest of the Russians forward positions with Alexei Kovalev leading the way. Alexander Radulov of Ufa Salavat is battling Yashin for second place in KHL scoring (behind Swede Mattias Weinhandl, who should make Team Sweden) and slots in as number two right winger. Another ex-NHLer Alexei Morozov who is having a fine year with Kazan Ak-Bars should make Team Russia. The fourth RW went to hulking Evgeny Artukhin of Anahiem which gives the Russians some much needed size.
The defense is definitely hurt by the loss of Andrei Markov who for my purposes I will assume is not going to be ready for the Olympics. If he is back in time, this team obviously gets much improved. Often injured Sergei Gonchar will lead the offense from the back end along with Sergei Zubov who is having a great year with KHL's St.Petersburg. Two other KHLers, Dmitri Kalinin and Anton Babchuk round out a rather non-descript defense core, although Edmonton's Denis Grebeshkov seems to be having a breakout year.
In goal the Russians have their pick of three Western Conference tenders in Nabokov, Khabibulin and the surprising Bryzgalov. They may opt to take Semyon Varlamov as well.
All in all, this is one fine offensive machine. A powerplay with Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk and the likes will be the most frightening of the Olympics. If this team gets the goaltending, it very well could walk away with a gold medal.