COLUMBUS, Ohio - In the wake of the NHL announcing an agreement for its players to take part in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, several national hockey associations are beginning to formulate their rosters.
While Canada and the United States are expected to announce their preliminary rosters in the coming days, Russia released its initial group of 35 this morning. Among the group are four Blue Jackets: Sergei Bobrovsky, Artem Anisimov, Fedor Tyutin and Nikita Nikitin.
Russia also announced it will hold its preliminary Olympic camp on Aug. 23-24 in Sochi.
One of the most notable items on the early Russian roster: the omission of Ilya Bryzgalov, who was the starting netminder for Russia during the World Championship tournament. The complete goaltending roster includes Bobrovsky, Semyon Varlamov of the Colorado Avalanche, Evgeni Nabokov of the New York Islanders and also Vasily Koshechkin.
Bobrovsky, who went 18-3-2 in the KHL during the NHL lockout, is widely considered to be the leading candidate to start for Russia at the Olympics. He went 21-11-6 for the Blue Jackets in 2012-13 with four shutouts and won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender, and was re-signed to a two-year contract just prior to the NHL Draft in New Jersey.
Though he battled injuries during his first season in Columbus, Anisimov showed he's capable of being a reliable two-way presence who can handle big minutes higher in the lineup. Despite playing in 35 of the team's 48 games, Anisimov scored 11 goals - third-most on the club - and if not for injury, may have challenged his 2011-12 total of 18 goals. The 25-year-old signed a three-year extension with the Blue Jackets earlier in the offseason.
Tyutin suited up for his native Russia during the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and along with Anisimov, played for Russia at the 2013 World Championships. He's been a pillar of consistency on the back end for Columbus since arriving via trade in 2008, and logs heavy minutes in all situations. When Nikitin was acquired by the Blue Jackets in November of 2011, the two struck up a friendship as well as on-ice partnership, often playing on the same defensive pair both at even strength and on the power play.
If selected to the national roster for Russia, it would mark for the first-ever Olympics for Niktin, Bobrovsky and Anisimov. Stay tuned to BlueJackets.com for complete coverage of forthcoming announcements on Olympic participation.