Vladislav Namestnikov – Alexei Yashin – Alexei Kovalev
As I alluded to before, one team wasn’t able to put together a full roster. That would be Russia as the Ottawa Senators have never had a Russian goalie. That said, there’s plenty of talent on this roster, so let’s run through that before deciding how to deal with the opening in goal.
Upfront Russia has one of the top snipers in franchise history in Alexei Yashin. While he’s now best remembered for his disputes with coaching and management, his hold-out for the entire 1999-2000 season, his trade that brought the team Jason Spezza and Zdeno Chara, or his steep decline and buyout with the Islanders, he topped 40 goals twice with Ottawa and was the lone bright spot on some abysmal expansion teams. He’s joined by Alexei Kovalev, who was far removed from his best days when he came to Ottawa, but he skill showed occasional flashes and was a decent offensive contributor. Namestnikov rounds out the forward group as there isn’t much left to choose from, but his two-way play for the team in 54 games this year could compliment Yashin and Kovalev nicely.
Once again, we go with two different styles on the blueline. Sergei Gonchar was one of the league’s top offensive defencemen before coming to Ottawa, while his production did drop sharply after joining the team, he was still able to make plays at both ends of the ice and help keep the team in playoff contention in years when they probably shouldn’t have been. Lining up next to him is hitting and blocking machine in Volchenkov, who benefits from the focus solely on their time in Ottawa as he largely fell off the map after signing with New Jersey in 2010.
While I was originally going to disqualify this team for not having a goaltender, the mix of players is too inviting to ignore, so I’m going to let them play with an empty net. That means the current defensive centre Artem Anisimov will join the forward group. The question now is can this team beat the Finnish team? Finland lacks offence, but that is mostly negated by the lack of a goaltender. Does Anton Volchenkov simply stand in the crease all game, or does Russia use their superior numbers and skill to keep the puck as much as possible? Either way, I think Finland still wins in this scenario, but the close nature of the matchup speaks to how devoid the franchise is of Finnish talent.