How Many Russian Hockey Players In The Nhl? [Answered!]

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What were the chances that the first game between the NHL and the KHL would feature so many high profile players from both sides? With many stars on the ice, the game was surely a memorable one. But who are the stars that shined under the Russian flag? Here is a look at how many Russian players are currently in the NHL and how many Russian players have played in the NHL previously.

How Many Russian NHL Players?

Although the KHL didn’t officially start until 1992, the Russians have been competing in ice hockey since the early 1900s. With the nation owning the world’s fourth-largest ice surface, surely many great hockey players have been born and raised there. Indeed, over the years, many stars have played for the Russian national team and gained international acclaim. There is also a possibility that many of the current NHL stars played for the Russian national team in the past and have been carrying the flag ever since.

The below list is a collection of the top stars that have represented Russia in international play. The list also includes players that have dual Russian-Canadian citizenship. The players are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Alexei Emelin

One of the most decorated Russian athletes of all time, Alexei Emelin has three Olympic gold medals, two silver medals, and one bronze medal from Sochi. In addition to his athletic accomplishments, Emelin also found time to captain the country’s national hockey team. Even at age 36, the defenseman is still viewed as one of the best in his position.

Emin’s skating ability and puck-handling are unquestioned, and his excellent leadership qualities saw him named as an alternate captain for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. However, Emelin’s time in the NHL has been marred by injury: he missed the entire 2012-13 season due to a heart injury, and didn’t play professionally until April of 2014. Prior to his injury, Emelin was the longest-serving current member of the Montreal Canadiens and led the team in ice time. He also played for the New York Rangers, where he was a member of their 2011 Stanley Cup championship team. Emelin was also selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game in 2011 and 2013.

Alexander Ovechkin

Considered by many to be the greatest hockey player of all time, Russian phenom Alexander Ovechkin burst onto the scene as a teenager in the 2005-06 season. Ovechkin currently plays for the NHL’s Washington Capitals, and is the all-time leading scorer in the history of the franchise. He is also the fastest player in history to reach 100 goals in a season. Since turning professional in 2004, Ovechkin has played in seven All-Star Games, won eight Golden Gloves, and been named to the NHL All-Star Game eight times.

Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 2005-06, and was subsequently named to the NHL All-Rookie Team. He continued to impress in his sophomore season, and was named to the All-Star Game as an injury replacement. Ovechkin helped lead the Capitals to the 2006-07 Stanley Cup title, appearing in six games as a healthy replacement in the playoffs.

Ovechkin became a restricted free agent after the 2007-08 season, and the Capitals decided to keep him with an affordable 10-year contract. However, Ovechkin was sidelined for the entire 2008-09 season due to a knee injury. He returned to the hockey rink in mid-2009 and continued to put up impressive numbers. Ovechkin helped the Capitals to the 2010-11 title, and was named to the All-Star Game for the ninth time in his career.

Alexander Ovechkin has established himself as one of the greatest hockey players of all time, and with many stars set to join the NHL in the near future, it’s sure to be a competitive league.

Dmitry Kulikov

Another young phenom making his presence felt in the NHL, Dmitry Kulikov burst onto the scene with the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2013-14 season. Kulikov currently serves as an alternate captain for the team alongside Steven Stamkos, and was also named to the All-Star Game for the first time in his career. Though still young, Kulikov already has an impressive list of acheivements to his name: in addition to his work with the Lightning, he has played in five All-Star games, won three Stanley Cups with the Russian national team, and been named to the Olympic Games in 2014.

Like Ovechkin, Kulikov made his NHL debut in the 2005-06 season, appearing in 28 games as a rookie, registering four goals and 16 points. He continued to impress in his sophomore season, leading all Lightning rookies in scoring and earning MVP honors at the 2008 NHL All-Star Game. In addition to his on-ice play, Kulikov also brings a wealth of international experience to the table. He has represented Russia in four World Championships, and won a gold medal with the squad at the 2007 IIHF World Junior Championships. Kulikov also won a gold medal for the Unified Team at the inaugural Winter Olympics in 1998.

Pavel Datsyuk

A six-time NHL All-Star, Pavel Datsyuk currently plays for the Detroit Red Wings. Datsyuk won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie in 2006-07 and was named to the All-Star Game in his first season, earning MVP honours. Injuries have plagued Datsyuk throughout his career, however: he has played in just 58% of the Red Wings’ games over the last two seasons, and was even out of the lineup for the entire 2013-14 season.

Datsyuk has consistently been among the league’s best players since turning pro in 2004, and was a driving force behind Detroit’s 2006-07 championship run. Datsyuk was also a key part of the Red Wings’ 2007-08 championship run as well, appearing in all but one game as a member of that squad.

Sergei Bobrovsky

A six-time NHL All-Star, Sergei Bobrovsky has been one of the best goalies in the league for many years, winning an Olympic gold medal with Russia in 2014. With his superb reflexes and steady hand, it’s no wonder why Bobrovsky has been so successful in net.

Bobrovsky has also represented Russia in several international tournaments, and put up excellent numbers. He has played in five All-Star Games, won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best goalie in 2014, and was named to the All-Star Game for the fourth consecutive season. Even at age 33, Bobrovsky is considered among the best at his position.

The above list of stars who played for the Russian national team includes some of the greatest to have ever played the game. There are undoubtedly more Russian hockey players that deserve to be on this list, and with the KHL set to begin play in the near future, the stars may very well continue to shine for the Russian hockey teams.

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