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  1. #1

    Russians who never played in the NHL

    By Dennis Gibbons

    When the NHL expanded from six to 12 teams for the 1967-68 season, almost every minor-leaguer was bidding for a shot at the big time. Yet expansion did not tap into the vast pool of European talent, especially in the Soviet Union.

    The Soviet government’s refusal to grant exit visas to its stars from that era prevented them from ever playing in the NHL. In fact, it wasn't until 1989 that Soviet players were allowed to leave.

    The Soviet national team that won nine consecutive World Championship gold medals between 1963 and 1971 might have been the strongest of all-time. NHL scouts scrutinized the players when the Soviet team toured North America and even drafted some stars with the hope one day the government would change its minf, as the Montreal Canadiens did when they selected legendary goalie Vladislav Tretiak in 1983 towards the end of his career.

    As far back as 1964, the Soviets asked New York Rangers GM Muzz Patrick for some exhibition games, but it took eight years before Canada’s best pros and the Soviet Union clashed in the 1972 Summit Series.

    Here are the best 10 Russian players who never played in the NHL.
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  2. #2

    6. Valery Vasiliev
    Vasiliev captained the Soviet team to victory in the 1981 Canada Cup. A hard hitter, he was feared by opponents, but also generated offense with pinpoint breakout passes and had a powerful shot from the point. Extremely strong on his skates, Vasiliev was named best defenseman at the World Championship three times.

    This guy was like Konstantinov on steroids. The very best defenseman I have ever seen play the game after Bobby Orr. Skated like Mark Howe, passed like Adam Oates, hit like Konstantinov and Stevens, and had a shot like MacInnis.

    Vasiliev always was in the background, but really after Kharlamov, he is the best Russian ever to play the game. He dominated his position and was the greatest purveyor of Hip Checks known to the sport.

  3. #3
    Tretiak will always be the greatest Russian to have never played in the NHL in my opinion.

  4. #4

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