New York Rangers prospect and top pick of 2007 (17th overall) Alexei Cherepanov collapsed and died on the bench of his Avangard Omsk team in the Russian KHL.
Prior to being drafted, many had Cherepanov as going in the top 5. He slipped to 17, where the Rangers couldn't believe the steal they were allowed to pull.
Cherepanov, playing alongside Jaromir Jagr in Omsk, had 8 goals and 12 assists in the season through 15 games. He was in his third season with the club. He had scored that night.
"We are extremely saddened by the tragic passing of Alexei," said Rangers General Manager Glen Sather. "On behalf of the New York Rangers organization, I would like to extend our deepest sympathies to his family. Alexei was an intelligent, energetic young man, with tremendous talent and an extremely bright future."
Cherepanov was the top-ranked European skater heading into his draft year, and backed up his credentials with 29 points in 47 games with Omsk when it played in the Russian Super League. He had more points than Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin as an RSL rookie, and his 18 goals in 2006-07 broke Pavel Bure's RSL rookie scoring record of 17.
Cherepanov represented Russia at numerous international tournaments. He was named the best forward at the 2007 World Junior Championships after he finished with a tournament-high 5 goals, and his 8 points led the Russian team in scoring and to the silver medal. He had 3 goals and 6 points in six games at the 2008 WJC as Russia won the bronze.
with files from NHL.com's Adam Kimelman.