Alexei Cherepanov collapsed on Monday on the substitutes' bench after falling on the ice during a Continental Hockey League game in the Moscow Region town of Chekov. He was then taken to a local hospital, where he died later that evening. He was 19.
The Russian sports daily Sport Express said that Cherepanov had collapsed in the 57th minute of a match between his Avangard side, from the West Siberian city of Omsk, and the Moscow Region club, Vityaz Chekhov.
Nicknamed the Siberian Express, Cherepanov was born in Russia's Altai Territory, in the city of Barnaul, on January 15, 1989. He had played two seasons as a professional, beating in March 2007 the Russia league goal-scoring record for rookies previously held by the legendary Pavel Bure.
Cherepanov had also been picked by U.S. ice hockey side the New York Rangers in a first round draft in June, 2007. At the time of his death there was no indication however of when he might leave Omsk to begin playing in the U.S. National Hockey League.
"The death of Russia and Avangard's brightest young player, Alexei Cherepanov, has affected us all deeply. Our grief is immeasurable," the Avangard club said on its website, offering its "deep and sincere condolences" to his family.
"We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei," New York Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a statement. "On behalf of the New York Rangers organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family."
Russian sports papers recalled with grim irony the young player's words after Russia lost in the semifinals at this year's World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in the Czech Republic.
Cherepanov had not played quite as well as was expected of him, but told journalists, "I've got my whole career ahead of me. You have unsuccessful tournaments, and you have successful ones."
Initial reports indicate heart failure as the cause of death.
Before the tragic events of Monday, the last high-profile death in Russian sport came in August, 2001, when the CSKA Moscow soccer club's goalkeeper, Serhiy Perkhun, was injured in a collision during a game against Anzhi in the southern Russian republic of Daghestan. He was substituted and later released by doctors after being diagnosed with a broken nose. However, on the way to the airport for the flight back to Moscow he passed out and slipped into a coma. He died nine days later.