The No. 1 selection at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft will lead Russia into next month’s Canada-Russia Challenge, as Nail Yakupov was among the 29 players named to the Russian roster this week.
The Edmonton Oilers’ pick is one of three Russian first-round selections from the 2012 draft who will take part in the four-game series, along with forward Mikhail Grigorenko (12th overall to Buffalo) and goaltender Andrei Vasilevski (19th overall to Tampa Bay).
In addition, Yakupov, Grigorenko and Vasilevski are among 11 players on the roster who helped Russia to a silver medal at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Alberta, beating Canada in the semifinals before losing a 1-0 overtime decision to Sweden in the gold medal game.
The Russians also have a CHL presence – six players spent last season in the Canadian Hockey League: Grigorenko (Quebec, QMJHL), Andrei Makarov (Saskatoon, WHL), Andrei Pedan (Guelph, OHL), Artyom Sergeyev (Val-d’Or, QMJHL), Yakupov (Sarnia, OHL) and Anton Zlobin (Val-d’Or, QMJHL), who scored the overtime winner for Shawinigan in the MasterCard Memorial Cup final before being dealt to the Foreurs.
The 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge is a collaboration between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Hockey League and Halifax Trade Centre Limited, which will see Canada and Russia’s national junior programs face off in two games in Russia (Aug. 9-10 in Yaroslavl) and two in Canada (Aug. 13-14 in Halifax, N.S.), to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Summit Series.