A bit late to the party this time, but let's start the yearly thread, just because. A bit of an input from me: Top 20 + 18 other interesting names + 12 overagers, that's 50 total, looks fine for a start.
1. RW/LW Vasiliy Podkolzin (6'1", 190 lbs; SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, MHL)
Not sure if I need to comment a lot here — Podkolzin has been showing some great things for quite some time now. And not just some flashy highlight reel stuff, but also quite an impressive 200ft game.
2. LHD Artemiy Knyazev (5'11", 170 lbs; Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL)
Knyazev had been getting quite a hype for some years now and when you see his skating technique, puck skills and creativity you can easily understand why. However, things haven't been going too good for him recently, but I really hope that the jump to the QMJHL can "restart" him.
3. LHD Nikita Okhotyuk (6'1", 195 lbs; Ottawa 67's, OHL)
At the beginning of the last season I thought that we might have a new Sergachev here. Things didn't go too well after that, but I still haven't given up on my hopes .
4. RW Pavel Dorofeyev (6'1", 168 lbs; Stalnie Lisy Magnitogorsk, MHL)
Looks like there might be something similar to what I usually call "game-changing talent" here, I certainly value that kind of things.
5. C/LW Yegor Spiridonov (6'2", 179 lbs; Stalnie Lisy Magnitogorsk, MHL)
Two-way game, a lot of that. Level of the offensive upside remains to be determined though.
6. C Matvei Guskov (6'1", 172 lbs; London Knights, OHL)
"All-around" is the first thing that I think when hearing his name. Made a name for himself with that kind of a game at the Hlinka's last year, so now we need to see if he can step it up to the next level (and he definitely has the talent for that).
7. C Oleg Zaitsev (6'1", 185 lbs; Red Deer Rebels, WHL)
Zaitsev is a talented playmaking center with some typical Dynamo Moscow hockey school's two-way ability.
8. LW Yaroslav Likhachyov (5'10", 160 lbs; Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL)
A lot of skill, creativity and other flashy stuff can be found in Likhachyov, let's see if he will be able to translate it to the QMJHL successfully.
9. LW Daniil Gutik (6'3", 176 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL)
Gutik can really make some 'wow' stuff with his hands: dangles, passes, shots. Skating is the part that most complain about though.
10. C Vladislav Mikhailov (6'2", 194 lbs; Dynamo Moscow, MHL)
Similarly to Zaitsev, Mikhailov is a center from Dynamo Moscow hockey school and the two-way ability is here too. Offensive upside and consistency are most noticeable unknowns here.
11. RHD Andrei Pribylskiy (5'10", 185 lbs; Dynamo Moscow, KHL)
Pribylskiy is not a highly talented kid, but he was placed on the KHL team's line-up and suddenly felt quite comfortable there. Looks pretty reliable so far, let's see if there is something more than that.
12. LHD Daniil Misyul (6'3", 179 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL)
Can't say I'm a big fan of Misyul, as he was annoying me all season long last year, although I must admit that he was showing some progress and, if that doesn't stop, we might get something good from his natural size, skating and puck skill talents.
13. LHD Ilya Mironov (6'3", 201 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL)
Mironov is a big D with good skating and heavy shot, willing to support the offense. But so far I kind of get a feeling that he can't exactly get into his stride for some reason.
14. W Yegor Chinakhov (5'11", 157 lbs; Yastreby Omsk, MHL)
So far I've seen some nice heads-up plays from Chinakhov combined with a good ovarall skillset. Unfortunately he got injured in pre-season and has just got back from that.
15. W Danil Zinovyev (6'1", 187 lbs; Belie Medvedi Chelyabinsk, MHL)
For now Zinovyev is best known as Yevgeni Kuznetsov's brother-in-law, but he has also been acknowledged as a talented prospect with some nice skill and skating and haircut. Unfortunately he also got to deal with injuries recently and is just on the way to get his form back.
16. C Mikhail Abramov (5'10", 160 lbs; Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL)
Playmaking at its best. No, really, Abramov really can set up those plays, but the obvious question is if he can still be a successful center at his modest size?
17. C Ilya Nikolayev (6'0", 185 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL)
Nikolayev is a bit enigmatic for me so far: often he looks rather, let's say, boring with his decent, but not remarkable game, but then he does some 'wow' stuff and you understand that it might be not that simple. Wonder if he could do things like that more often.
18. RW/C Maxim Shabanov (5'8", 157 lbs; Belie Medvedi Chelyabinsk, MHL)
A smallish playmaking center, who had been placed to wing and is finding another level in his game after that, I think I've seen this thing before...
19. LHD Roman Bychkov (5'11" 163 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL)
I can't say I have a very high opinion of Bychkov's natural talents, but I really like how he thinks the game, I hope there can be something out of that in the end.
20. LHD Dmitri Tyuvilin (6'2", 170 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL)
And with Tyuvilin we are talking about those natural talents: he can skate, he can carry the puck, he has got the size... let's see if all of that can be put in a proper toolbox.
Some other interesting names here, more or less ranked, but I don't think it would be a good idea for me to write descriptions here at this point, not to mention that some of the names here are just to follow them in the future.
21. LW Ilya Altybarmakyan (6'0", 185 lbs; SKA-Varyagi, MHL)
22. RW Alexander Gordin (6'1", 174 lbs; SKA-Varyagi, MHL)
23. RW Yegor Afanasyev (6'3" 203 lbs; Muskegon Lumberjacks, USHL)
24. LHD Nikita Sedov (6'1", 187 lbs; Regina Pats, WHL)
25. LHD Daniil Zaruba (6'0", 172 lbs; Krasnaya Armiya Moscow, MHL)
26. LW Alexander Cherniy (5'11", 165 lbs; Krasnaya Armiya Moscow, MHL)
27. C Alexei Tsyplakov (6'2", 176 lbs; SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, MHL)
28. LW Dmitriy Sheshin (5'8", 143 lbs; Stalnie Lisy Magnitogorsk, MHL)
29. LHD Lev Starikov (6'7", 200 lbs; Windsor Spitfires, OHL)
30. W Yegor Serdyuk (5'11", 165 lbs; Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL)
31. LW Ivan Manin (6'1", 198 lbs; SKA-1946 St. Petersburg, MHL)
32. W Amir Garayev (6'0", 172 lbs; Kapitan Stupino, MHL)
33. RW Danil Bashkirov (6'2", 163 lbs; Tolpar Ufa, MHL)
34. LHD Mikhail Stikhanovskiy (5'10, 187 lbs; Mamonty Yugry Khanty-Mansiysk, MHL)
35. GK Daniil Chechelev (6'3", 176 lbs; Russkie Vityazi Chekhov, MHL)
36. W Vladislav Firstov (6'0", 180 lbs; Waterloo Black Hawks, USHL)
37. GK Alexei Shchetilin (6'3", 181 lbs; Stalnie Lisy Magnitogorsk, MHL)
38. LHD Yegor Bryutov (6'1", 205 lbs; Rubin Tyumen, VHL)
1. C Nikita Anokhovskiy (6'0", 201 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL; 2 years overage)
I really think that Anokhovskiy with all of his hard work can be the answer to a 3rd line center role at the WJC, it's a pretty good position to make a name for himself.
2. LHD Grigoriy Dronov (6'3", 201 lbs; Metallurg Magnitogorsk, KHL; 3 years overage)
Well, in the summer I thought that Dronov can eventually become a Russia NT caliber player by the end of the season, but then his ankle issue stroke again and he is out until December. Those hopes didn't die yet though.
3. LHD Ilya Morozov (6'3", 207 lbs; Sibir Novosibirsk, KHL; 2 years overage)
Already last season Morozov showed that you can easily throw big minutes of KHL icetime at him. His game is far from refined, but hopefully pro experience can be useful at the WJC.
4. G Ilya Konovalov (6'0", 181 lbs; Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL; 3 years overage)
For some years now Konovalov was showing signs that there might be some talent, but in the end something wasn't clicking. Looking at him in the KHL at this point and something tells me that it finally might have clicked.
5. LW/RW Artyom Nikolayev (6'0", 190 lbs; SKA-Neva St Petersburg, VHL; 2 years overage)
Nikolayev was never considered as a high-end talent, but suddenly he was pretty solid at the Sochi tournament and now is tearing it up in the VHL.
6. W/C Alexander Yaremchuk (5'11", 174 lbs; Avangard Omsk, KHL; 2 years overage)
Yaremchuk couldn't show much long-term consistency despite being pretty gifted in terms of talent, but his NT performance is hinting that we can hope for a breakout this year.
7. C/W Georgi Ivanov (6'0", 194 lbs; Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL; 2 years overage)
He always wasn't afraid to get his nose dirty, but suddenly at the start of this season it looks like Ivanov has shown some notable progress in his offensive game.
8. RW Nikita Rtishchev (6'1", 192 lbs; Zvezda Moscow, VHL; 1 year overage)
Rtishchev has shown a lot of flashes of talent, but couldn't be consistent enough even on MHL level. So far this season it looks like he might've found that part of his game, but on the VHL level.
9. RW Yegor Filin (5'8", 152 lbs; Zvezda Moscow, VHL; 2 years overage)
So far Filin has shown himself as a real energizer on ice in U20 NT games, looking forward to seeing him at least in the CAN/RUS Series games.
10. RHD Alexander Lyakhov (6'3", 181 lbs; Salavat Yulaev Ufa, KHL; 2 years overage)
There's not much right-handed options aside from Lyakhov on Russia U20 WJC team this year, so that's a good position for him to succeed.
11. LHD Maxim Afanasyev (6'0", 170 lbs; Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL; 3 years overage)
And again we are talking about the situation when a player was on the radar for quite some time and showed quite some good stuff pretty frequently, but eventually something didn't go right. This season things looks to have gone the right way for Afanasyev, as he is having an important role in Lokomotiv's KHL team.
12. RHD Anton Malyshev (6'0", 183 lbs; Loko Yaroslavl, MHL; 1 year overage)
Despite that I had a very good impression of Malyshev from the last season, initially I wasn't going to add him here, but recently he has been adding some decent offensive component to his game, so I thought that I should place him here just in case.