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Author: Yana Romanova (RussianProspects Exclusive)
Translated By: Sergei Chveitser
Date: 11/06/2006
Yana Romanova Corner: Ivan Nepriayev (Washington Capitals) speaks his mind

2007 Russian Super League

Welcome to the first installments of our correspondent Yana Romanov's column. This time our correspondent met up with Washington Capitals prospect Ivan Nepriayev and gave the young talented center a chance to speak his mind. Ivan Nepriayev is one of the most talented young Russian players still skating outside the NHL. He represented his country at the 2006 Winter Olympics and has consistently been a member of Team Russia at the EuroTour and World Championships tournaments. RussianProspects.com correspondent Yana Romanova caught up with Ivan after practice in his hometown of Yaroslavl.

Two goals and an assist, is that the kind of start you expected?
I. Nepriayev: No, of course not and to answer any potential questions, no external factors had any influence on me and everything has to do with myself. There are deficiencies in my game that need to be fixed. Perhaps sometimes I haven't made the best decisions during some offensive rushes. For some reason, a new tendency emerged in my game where I choose to pass the puck rather than shoot it myself. Personal statistics are becoming less and less important to me and instead, I want my team to win in every game.

What is your most memorable goal of the season? The deciding overtime goal against Krylia Sovetov?
I. Nepriayev: If my choice is one of the two goals, then yes (laughs). I haven't been scoring a lot so far so it's not hard to remember that goal and besides, it wasn't that long ago anyway. Most of the work there was done by Sean Bergenheim. He made a great pass, predicted where I will skate in the next moment and sent the puck to that exact spot. It's too bad that things didn't go well for him in Russia and he left.

Are you still improving as a player or did you develop some stability in your game?
I. Nepriayev: There is always something to strive towards and rarely does it happen when at some point in life, a person stops. There is always a road ahead. I can't evaluate at what stage I'm currently at, I think I can probably adjust under any style. I have my strong and weak sides and in the end and after all, I can't boast the kind of stats like Alexei Morozov.

The roster went through some major changes. Do you feel as a veteran at the team?
I. Nepriayev: You know, outside of hockey, the word veteran has a different meaning than what it is used for in the team. The youth are the ones who carry the sticks, the veterans are everyone else. It's been a long time since I gathered the pucks and the sticks so I guess I've been a veteran for a while now. There are usually three-four youngsters and everyone else is a 'veteran'.

What thoughts went through your head when you watched your former teammates Mikhnov and Taratukhin go overseas?
I. Nepriayev: I'll be honest, I had thoughts about the NHL too, but not in the summer. It was last winter and spring when I was getting many offers and held negotiations but I decided not to go.

Why did you decide to stay?
I. Nepriayev: Our situations were totally different. First of all, I made a promise to the club president that I will stay with the team for the next two seasons. Second of all, there is one condition that separates me from these guys. When I was 18, I was picked late in the draft while Mikhnov was chosen in the first round and Taratukhin in the 2nd. Because of this, I won't be able to get the maximum allowed contract in the NHL so even if I improved as a player, they simply aren't allowed to offer me a better contract because of my draft position.

What will happen in two years?
I. Nepriayev: When two years pass, I will think and decide if it's worth going there. For now, it's a good thing that none of these outside things distract me from playing for Lokomotiv.

- Yana Romanova (RussianProspects.com)

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