All Time Russian Born NY Rangers Team
There is a heavy Russian flavor with this current Rangers squad and throughout the prospect pipeline. High draft picks, blockbuster trades, and franchise-altering free agent signings have transformed Rangerstown into Little Odessa. So, grab yourself a plate of borscht, a jug of Stolichnaya and a Russian-to-English dictionary as we profile some of the best Russian born players to ever appear on Broadway.
In goal, number 31 Igor Shesterkin
While it’s true that “The Czar” has suited up for just twelve regular season games in his embryonic Blueshirt career, Igor has accepted the torch from incumbent Henrik Lundqvist. There is not a modicum of doubt that this is Shesterkin’s team moving forward. That beautiful day when this dastardly, insidious Covid-19 virus is under control and the NHL resumes its season will undoubtedly see #31 back between the pipes leading his Ranger team to a multitude of victories.
On defense, number 21 Sergei Zubov
Zubov is the answer to a great trivia question. Who was the Rangers leading scorer on their 1994 Stanley Cup winning team? No, it wasn’t Mark Messier or Adam Graves or Brian Leetch. It was a native of Moscow whose 89 points made him an indispensable cog in the Blueshirts championship machine. Zubov, along with his fellow Hall-Of-Famer Leetch, combined to give the Rangers their most lethal and dynamic power play blue-line pairing in team history.
His defense partner, number 51 Fedor Tyutin
Tyutin’s combination of size, skill, skating ability and toughness were on continuous display throughout his four years patrolling the Blueshirt’s blue-line. Tyutin may have flourished into an All-Star caliber player with the Columbus Blue Jackets. But, the fact remains, the 2001 second round draft pick (40th overall) was a rock solid defender for the Rangers and very much deserving to make the All Russian Team.
On right wing, number 27 Alexei Kovalev
From the moment he was drafted with the 15th pick in the first round of the 1991 NHL draft, Kovalev was a lightning rod for controversy and an enigma on the ice. Kovalev’s skill sets were being compared to the “Great One” Wayne Gretzky of all people at the time of his selection. But, “Kovi’s” reputation for selfishness and lack of coordination with his teammates stunted his growth with the Rangers and eventual led to a trade.
However, Kovalev scored a clutch goal towards the end of the second period in the Mark Messier “guarantee game” in Game 6 of the 1994 Eastern Conference Finals. That paved the way for the Rangers captain to score his legendary third period hat trick staving off elimination in that magical and memorable series.
At center, number 13 Sergei Nemchinov
The man who was affectionately known as “Sarge” is one of the more unheralded members of the 1994 Stanley Cup winning squad. Nemchinov was a 30-goal scorer. Nemchinov was a solid defender. Nemchinov could even drop the gloves as was the case in 1992 when the Moscow native pummeled Chicago Blackhawks tough guy Mike Peluso. Nemchinov, whose daughter currently works as a translator for those Russian Rangers players still learning the English language, was a tremendous all-around hockey player and most deserving of this team. His class and grace on the ice made him beloved by his teammates and he belongs on this list.
On left wing, number 10 Artemi Panarin
The “Bread Man” was nothing short of brilliant in his first year staring on Broadway. Several “Tony Awards” will assuredly be in Panarin’s future throughout the duration of his seven-year contract on Broadway. Panarin, as has been stated by myself and the rest of the Forever Blueshirts staff repeatedly, is the epitome of a revelation. We watch, we marvel, we shake our heads in amazement. Rangerstown is just not use to players with such an extraordinarily high skill level. Panarin is that rare player in which, every time the puck is on his stick, we instinctively move towards the edge of our seats in anticipation of something wondrous and magical to happen.
Honorary mentions: Pavel Bure, Alexander Karpovtsev, Pavel Buchnevich, and Artem Anisimov.