Ishmatov: Zherdev could become tournament's MVP

DEC.25 (RHI) -- An obvious attempt by Russia's head coach Rafail Ishmatov to downplay his tense relationship with probable top pick at the upcoming NHL Entry Draft Nikolai Zherdev took place today.

"We (coaching staff) talked to him on several occasions of late and I believe Nikolai understands his role on the team" - stressed Ishmatov to a Russian daily Sport-Express. "Frankly, I think (Zherdev) is the best 84 born player in the country and if he manages to keep within the team concept - tournament's MVP he shall become."

Other points taken by Russian head coach in the interview:

- About Ezhov: "He played for us in Sweden past September and did fairly well. We followed him throughout the season and his level of play satisfies us."

- Teams top five man unit will be composed of Alexander Ovechkin, Yuri Trubachev, Alexander Polushin, Fedor Tyutin and Denis Grebeshkov.

- About disturbing attention on scouts and agents parts: "I told the guys that hockey shall be their main concern at this point. We'll restrict the amount of time our players could spent talking to (scouts and agents)."

-- Russian Hockey Insider