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Ilya Kovalchuk, Pavel Datsyuk headline Russian men’s hockey team for 2018 Olympics

This is clearly the most talented team heading to Pyeongchang.

Kontinental Hockey League: SKA St Petersburg vs Salavat Yulaev Ufa Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images

Former NHL stars Ilya Kovalchuk and Pavel Datsyuk lead the roster for the Russian men’s hockey team at the 2018 Winter Olympics. All 25 players announced Thursday hail from the KHL, the Russia-based league that’s widely considered second-best in the world behind the NHL.

The team will be officially competing under the Olympic Athletes from Russia designation after the country’s national team was banned from the 2018 Olympics for doping. Individual athletes have needed to receive approval on a case-by-case basis, and those who make it to Pyeongchang won’t be allowed to wear Russia’s flag or colors.

Five potential members of the Russian men’s hockey team, including former Dallas Stars forward Valeri Nichushkin, did not receive IOC approval to make the team. The Russian hockey federation said in a statement the decisions weren’t related to the doping ban, but they won’t be playing all the same.

Here’s the full Olympic Athletes from Russia roster announced Thursday.

Forwards: Sergei Andronov, Alexander Barabanov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Gusev, Pavel Datsyuk, Ilya Kablukov, Sergei Kalinin, Kirill Kaprizov, Ilya Kovalchuk, Sergei Mozyakin, Nikolai Prokhorkin, Ivan Telegin, Vadim Shipachyov, Sergei Shirokov.

Defensemen: Slava Voynov, Vladislav Gavrikov, Artyom Zub, Andrei Zubarev, Bogdan Kiselevich, Alexei Marchenko, Nikita Nesterov, Dinar Khafizullin.

Goaltenders: Vasily Koshechkin, Ilya Sorokin, Igor Shestyorkin.

The presence of names like Kovalchuk and Datsyuk is big part of why the Russians are considered heavy favorites for the upcoming tournament. Other countries won’t be able to match that star power without NHL players, as we saw with the announcement of the teams from the United States and Canada.

Other familiar names to NHL fans include Voynov, Grigorenko, Shipachyov, and Nesterov. Voynov was a key defenseman for the Kings until he left the NHL in 2015 following an indefinite suspension stemming from an arrest on domestic violence charges. Grigorenko was a 2012 NHL first-round pick who played five seasons for the Sabres and Avalanche. Shipachyov had his recent foray with the Golden Knights, and Nesterov spent three seasons with the Lightning.

There are also some notable top prospects, similar to the Finnish team. Forward Kirill Kaprizov won’t be coming to the NHL anytime soon as a result of his KHL contract, but he’s still part of a bright future for the Wild. Igor Shestyorkin (Rangers) and Ilya Sorokin (Islanders) are considered two of the best young goaltenders in the world.

Russia may not have the likes of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin, Vladimir Tarasenko, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and Dmitry Orlov, but it’s still by far the most talented team heading to Pyeongchang.