The CIBC Canada Russia Series is the last event as a prelude to the 2018 World Junior Championship and national team evaluation camps in December. Each league in the CHL gathers an all-star team of eligible Canadians and plays a select team from Russia in this final tune-up. The series moves from west to east from November 6th to 16th as they play two games each for team WHL, OHL and QMJHL against Russia.
While the national teams already have a short list of who is truly in consideration for their WJC teams and took a look at those players in the Summer Showcase, a hot start to the season coupled with a strong showing in this event might turn the heads of some decision makers. Team Russia tends to favor a 19 year old roster and those playing in Russia for the WJC but will get a look at a good handful of CHL Russians mixed in with the team that is brought from overseas in this event.
For Avs fans the obvious interest in this event are their two prospects Ty Lewis and Conor Timmins playing for team WHL and OHL respectively. Timmins’ selection was expected as he had been an invite to Hockey Canada’s Summer Showcase. Lewis was certainly not on the radar before his blistering hot start in the WHL and the selection committee couldn’t ignore one of the leading scorers in the WHL. Both are relative newcomers to Hockey Canada as they have never been on one of their national team rosters previously. However, a good showing could lead to a December selection camp invite.
Also of note and disappointment to Avs fans is the absence of Igor Shyvryov from the team Russia roster. It seemed to set up as a perfect opportunity for him to get a few games of high level competition in as he is used very sparingly in the KHL (averaging less than three minutes time on ice, seriously) and is also in his 19 year old season and a familiar face on Russian national team rosters. Hopefully he is still in the mix for the final WJC roster and it begs the question that perhaps someone decided it wasn’t a good idea for a NHL drafted prospect to spend a couple of weeks in North America, especially one who doesn’t have the greatest current situation back home.
Another reason for Avs fans to keep a keen eye on this series is because seven high end draft eligible players will take part. For team Russia, defenseman and a personal favorite of mine Alexander Alexeyev will play against team WHL. In the OHL defenseman Evan Bouchard and Kevin Bahl will take the ice along with goaltender Jacob Ingram. The QMJHL will feature centers Joe Veleno and Benoit-Olivier Groulx plus bruisung defenseman Jared McIsaac. All aim to become first round picks in the 2018 NHL entry draft and with a great showing could sneak on to the WJC roster. The six Canadians have been previous participants for Hockey Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament and Alexeyev has been on several Russian national teams including the Under 18 Championship squad as a 16 year old.
2017 CIBC Canada Russia Series Schedule:
Game 1 (WHL) – Monday, November 6 at 6pm MT in Moose Jaw, SK
Game 2 (WHL) – Tuesday, November 7 at 6pm MT in Swift Current, SK
Game 3 (OHL) – Thursday, November 9 at 5pm MT in Owen Sound, ON
Game 4 (OHL) – Monday, November 13 at 5pm MT in Sudbury, ON
Game 5 (QMJHL) – Tuesday, November 14 at 5pm MT in Charlottetown, PE
Game 6 (QMJHL) – Thursday, November 16 at 5pm MT in Moncton, NB
All games will be shown live on Sportsnet and TVA. The NHL Network will air tape delayed and condensed to two hour versions of each contest on the following day at 8am MT.