Russia has had a long history of providing the National Hockey League (NHL) with supremely talented players.
Ask any ice hockey fan to name their favourite Russian stars and names like Sergei Fedorov and Pavel Datsyuk won’t be far from the conversation.
There are a plethora of Russian players currently plying their trade in the NHL, with many of them the standout performers on their respective teams.
Read on as we look at four players who made a big impact in the NHL during the 2018/19 season.
4 Russian NHL Stars of the 2018/19 Season
Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
Kucherov won the Art Ross Trophy for the most points during the regular season with 128 in 2018/19 and he is one of the best NHL bets to repeat the feat next time around.
Only four players have surpassed the 120-point milestone since 2005/06 and no Russian-born NHL player has ever bagged that many.
Lightning’s subsequent failure in the play-offs will only serve to fire up Kucherov and it would be no surprise to see him break through the 130-point barrier next season.
Alexander Ovechkin – Washington Capitals
Fedorov notched 1355 points during his NHL career for the most points all-time by a Russian-born player, but Ovechkin is now just 18 behind him.
Comparing players from different eras is an impossible task, but the 33-year-old would have a strong case to be declared as the best Russian to play in the NHL when he surpasses his compatriot.
Ovechkin’s 89 point tally last season was his best return since the 2009/10 campaign, highlighting that he is still worth his multi-million dollar salary.
Andrei Vasilevskiy – Tampa Bay Lightning
The 24-year-old was awarded the Vezina Trophy after being voted by the league’s general managers as the best goalie in the NHL.
He finished the regular season with 92.5 save percentage but, like Kucherov, will have been left frustrated by his team’s play-off failure.
However, he still has time on his side and is unquestionably one of the best Russian stars playing in the NHL at the moment.
Artemi Panarin – New York Rangers
Panarin has been a standout performer for Columbus Blue Jackets over the past couple of seasons, but he will be expected to take things up a notch now he has signed for New York Rangers.
He will earn more than $80 million over the next seven years and the Rangers will rightly expect a return on their massive investment.
New York have failed to make the play-offs for the last two seasons, but a 100-point season from Panarin could help to revive their fortunes in 2019/20.