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UPDATED with denial: Nikita Zaitsev and Alexander Radulov to join Team Russia for World Championships

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The Russian Hockey Federation is denying a report from the Russian news that Zaitsev and Radulov are joining the team for the World Championship

Montreal Canadiens v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

UPDATED: This report has been denied by the Russian Hockey Federation. In a report on their official site in Russian, they say the following (translated by Google):

Nikita Zaitsev in a match of the regular season NHL injured - concussion. Nikita has played in the playoffs, but his current state of health does not allow to speak for the national team at the world championships. "Toronto" did not let the counsel to the location of our team. Forward Alexander Radulov has refused to participate in the World Cup in the absence of the current contract with the club.

Until they put up the official English post, I can only assume that means that the Leafs said he should not play. The official English version is now available and does indeed say, “Toronto did not let him go.”

Always beware of Russian news reports! Keep that in mind when you see news that Ilya Kovalchuk has signed with the Martian Ice Farmers.

According to the Russian site R-Sport, three players are coming to Europe now to join the Russian National Team for the World Championships in Cologne, Germany on May 5.

Alexander Radulov of the Montréal Canadiens, Nikita Zaitsev of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Anton Belov of SKA St. Petersburg (this year’s Gagarin Cup champions) are the three players named.

All three players should be expected to be part of the team if they are healthy, so there are no surprises here beyond the timing. Although usually a player has to have a medical and get cleared by his team before this becomes official, and this doesn’t seem very official yet.

I’ll have a look at who else on the Leafs is likely to go to Worlds soon.