Russia will look for a five-peat of its own as it tries to earn a medal at a fifth-straight World Junior Championship when the 2009 tournament is held Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ottawa.
After winning three-straight silver medals, the Russians beat the U.S. to claim the bronze at the 2008 WJC in the Czech Republic.
Among the players returning for Russia is star forward Nikita Filatov
, whose 9 points were second in the tournament. Filatov, taken by the Columbus Blue Jackets
with the sixth pick of the 2008 Entry Draft, has spent most of the season with the team's American Hockey League affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. In 23 AHL games, he has 7 goals and 17 points; in four NHL games, he has 1 goal and a plus-1 rating.
Also returning for the '09 is forward Dmitri Kugryshev
, a 2008 second-round pick of the Capitals. He had 4 points in last year's tournament, and currently has 38 points in 30 games with the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
The other returning players are defenseman Vjateslav Voinov
, a 2008 second-round pick by the Kings currently playing for Manchester in the AHL; undrafted defenseman Maxim Chudinov
; and forward Evgeni Dadonov, a 2007 third-round pick by the Panthers currently playing in Russia.
Notable first-timers on the roster include defenseman Dmitry Kulikov
, NHL Central Scouting's No. 2-ranked skater for the 2009 Entry Draft from the QMJHL, currently playing for the Drummondville Voltigeurs; and forward Evgeny Grachev
, a 2008 second-round pick by the Rangers, currently playing with the Ontario Hockey League's Brampton Battalion.
The Czech team could have a familiar look to Canadian hockey fans, as 17 players on its 41-man preliminary roster play for Canadian Hockey League teams.
Among the familiar names are defenseman Tomas Kundratek
, a 2008 third-round pick by the Rangers playing for Medicine Hat in the WHL; defenseman Michal Jordan
, a 2008 fourth-round pick by the Hurricanes now with Plymouth of the OHL; and right wing Tomas Vincour
, who plays for Edmonton in the WHL and is considered a 2009 Draft prospect.
The Latvia roster features 13 players who arfe from the team that won the 2008 Division I B World Juniors to earn promotion to the top level for 2009.