by Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com
Russia became the fourth of the "Big Six" countries to name its full Olympic roster with today's selection of the remaining 15 players to fill out the 23-man roster that will compete in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
Team Russia GM and coach Slava Fetisov made the announcement at the Russian consulate in Manhattan.
Rangers defenseman Vladimir Malakhov
was one of the 15 players named to the team. This will mark Malakhov's second trip to the Olympics. The Ekaterinberg, Russia native represented Russia in 1992, tallying three goals and four penalty minutes in eight matches.
Malakhov currently ranks second on the Rangers among defensemen with 16 points (five goals, 11 assists) through 37 games this season. The 6-5, 230-pounder also leads the NHL with a plus-24 rating.
Fetisov also named Maxim Afinogenov of the Buffalo Sabres, Valeri Bure and Viktor Kozlov of the Florida Panthers, Sergei Fedorov of the Detroit Red Wings, Ilya Kovalchuk of the Atlanta Thrashers, Oleg Kvasha of the Islanders, Igor Larionov of the Red Wings, Andrei Nikolishin of the Washington Capitals, Sergei Samsonov of the Boston Bruins, and Alexei Zhamnov, Chicago Blackhawks.
Defensemen selected were Malakhov, Danny Markov of Phoenix and Boris Mironov of Chicago.
The goalies selected were Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks and Yegor Podamatsky of Lokomotiv in the Russian League.
Those players joined the original eight selections, named to the team last spring. Goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin of Tampa Bay is the No. 1 goalie. Florida's Pavel Bure, Pittsburgh's Alexei Kovavlev, and the Islanders' Alexei Yashin were the first three forwards named.
The orginal four defensemen were Pittsburgh's Darius Kasparaitis, Washington's Sergei Gonchar, Anaheim's Oleg Tverdovsky and Toronto's Dmitry Yushkevich.
The Czech Republic also named the remaining players to its team Friday. The Canadians made their selections on Dec. 15, and the Finns named their full team Dec. 13.
Sweden and the United States are waiting until Saturday -- the IIHF-mandated deadline for final rosters -- to announce their final selections.
The Russians, who finished second to the Czechs in the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, have a chance to medal again as their team is loaded with speed and skill, two key assets on the larger international ice surface.
Russia plays its first game in Salt Lake City, against a qualifier to be determined, Feb. 15. The tournament runs from Feb. 9 to Feb. 24. The NHL will suspend its schedule to accommodate the games, going dark on Feb. 14 for 12 days.
"It looks pretty good on paper," Fetisov said of his roster. "This team is designed to be competitive. We're going to try to win every game."
Friday's additions just strengthen the core of speed and skill that were introduced with the last spring's selections.
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