Slava Voynov’s selection to Team Russia for the World Cup of Hockey was certainly controversial. He was suspended indefinitely by the NHL after a domestic abuse incident and has since returned to Russia to play in the KHL. While Team Russia tried their best to get him eligible to play, Team Russia has decided to not press the issue further.
Instead Team Russia has added Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Nikita Nesterov. He will join fellow Bolts Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, and Andrei Vasilevskiy in representing Russia.
Team Russia could have looked to another player from the KHL to fill the spot. With the conflict of KHL teams already starting training camp by the time the World Cup of Hockey happens, Team Russia instead turned to one of the few remaining NHL defensemen they hadn’t already tapped in Nesterov. Fedor Tyutin was likely the only other NHL defensemen that was an option for Team Russia and the only other Russian defenseman not on the team with more games than Nesterov last season.
Nesterov has not played internationally for Russia since the 2012-13 U20 World Junior Championships. He has had a history of success in those tournaments however. He 9 points in 14 games in the U20 WJCs and 6 points in 14 games in the U18 WJCs. He won 1 silver and 1 bronze medal in the U20s and 1 bronze medal in the U18s.
Besides his Tampa Bay teammates, Nesterov has also played with fellow World Cup of Hockey teammates Evgeni Kuznetsov and Ivan Telegin.