CHL Import Draft - Russian review
During the 2010 CHL Import Draft the different CHL teams picked up 18 players from Russia and a total of 23 from the former Soviet Union.
RussianProspect.com offers you a pick-by-pick review.
#2 Overall pick: Nail Yakupov, RW (Sarnia Sting)
The Sarnia Sting easily picked up probably one of the best 93 year born right now. Nail Yakupov is a crystalline talent with great stickhandling and skating. A classic Russian player, Yakupov is one of those forwards who can get the puck at one end of the ice and getting to the opposite end still with the puck on the blade. He already played first line hockey with team Russia 92 in Canada and thus he has some experience of playing against bigger players. He has a great hockey QI and it reflects in his decision making, he knows when to pass and when to shoot. Overall he is a great prospect and he should be a factor for the Sting in the 10-11 season, but he needs to work on his size, being only 5'11", 168 lbs, and defensive play. He can score highlight reel goals.
#15 Overall pick: Anton Zlobin, RW (Shawinigan Cataractes)
Considering Russian players' good fit in the QMJHL, Shawinigan could have found a great player in Anton Zlobin, a natural goal scorer from Spartak Moscow. Only next year we'll know if he'll be another Kugryshev or another Bashkirov, but he has surely all the tools to succeed in the Q thanks to his high technique level and very good skating. He is a good finisher even if he doesn't have a top notch shot. He can serve both as sniper and playmaker and is a very good prospect. He likes to play with an edge and can deliver good hits, even if in North America he might not be so effective in this due to the more physical North American game. He should also try to get less penalty minutes.
#16 Overall pick: Nikita Nesterov, D (Tri-City Americans)
The WHL might serve very well for the development of this young blue liner who did very well in the recent U18s in Belarus. Nikita Nesterov has a very good shot and a good skating and likes playing a direct style. His game can suit well the more demanding North American hockey with the small ice surface, but he needs to grow and mature as player. He can play physically and isn't intimidated by the physical play and this surely plays in his favor. Considering Alexander Pechursky's departure to Russia, the Amerks have a free slot for him in the lineup.
#17 Overall pick: Maxim Kitsyn, LW (Mississauga St. Michael Majors)
Drafted in the NHL less than one week ago, Maxim Kitsyn is a power forward in the making that might have a very good season in the OHL, should he report, thanks to his excellent technique joined with a very good size. His biggest flaw is inconsistency, but at junior level it might be not such a major problem considering the lower level of play compared to pro hockey. Kitsyn is a versatile player with good hands and if he will report he might become one of the top imports in the OHL.
#20 Overall pick: Vladislav Namestnikov, C (London Knights)
One of the top CHL teams picked up one of the finest available players. Vladislav Namestnikov is a very good center who can put the biscuit in the basket with a certain consistency, without forgetting how to be a good playmaker. He played against men last season in the Russian second tier league, and this was a good experience for him. He absolutely needs to bulk up, but a year in America would surely make him working on his frame. He is a very good skater and has a very good coordination too. Definitely a solid pick by the Knights.
#21 Overall pick: Igor Levitsky, LW (Gatineau Olympiques)
The Olympiques of the QMJHL made the first surprise pick among Russians selecting the relatively unknown Igor Levitsky. The left winger from Moscow is a gifted goal scorer who never got called to team Russia and struggled a bit at the MHL level, also due to his very young age. He did rather well in the Moscow Open Championship, scoring many goals, but he needs to be tested against better opposition in order to know what's his real skills level.
#23 Overall pick: Alexander Khokhlachev, C (Windsor Spitfires)
Yet another good player from the good crop of 93-born from Russia, Alexander Khokhlachev is a center with an excellent hockey sense and is versatile enough to be useful in all situations. He likes looking around for open partners and can rack up assists with relative ease. He is a good scorer too even if he needs to work on his finishing skills. One of his problem is that sometimes he tries overdoing in the passing area and thus his passes aren't always 100% accurate, but he can overcome this problem. Another problem that he can fix rather easily is his small frame. He is NHL first round material, but it's hard to anticipate if he's going to report or not as he is in a good situation with Spartak Moscow and might even get some KHL ice time next season.
#27 overall pick: Maxim Kazakov, RW (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)
An excellent skater, Maxim Kazakov is an interesting player to watch as he makes things happen with his great skating and well above average technique. His playing style can suit very well the Q as he is a very gifted winger who doesn't play physically. He plays very well on the off wing and can distribute the puck well even if he's primarily a goal scorer. His down sides, other than physical play, are defensive coverage and consistency throughout the game. He is one of such players who can have a shift off even now and then and isn't ready for pro hockey right now. Kazakov should report with the Huskies.
#29 Overall pick: Timofei Tankeev, C (Erie Otters)
Timofei Tankeev has already NA experience as he spent the 09-10 season in the CSHL with the St. Louis Jr Blues, being one of the team's top scorers playing with and against players 1-2 years older. He's a gifted center with a very good vision of the ice who likes to feed the open man for an easy goal. Like many other Russian players he prefers passing over shooting and this aspect is further stressed because he's a center. He's the kind of playmaking center that any team wants to play on the powerplay and key offensive situations. Most likely he'll report with the Otters considering that he already spent one year in NA.
#32 Overall pick: Andrei Pedan, D (Guelph Storm)
Andrei Pedan is a sized defenseman (6'3", 190) who can be very effective at both ends of the ice and likes to play aggressively. In spite of these valuable features he never represented Russia on the international stage and considering his status within the Dynamo Moscow organization it's hard to think that he'll report, but with the Import Draft is really hard to guess correctly and thus he might well join the Storm in September. He has all the tools to be a high draft pick coming next June, but he needs to be tested against better competition.
#38 Overall pick: Egor Omelyanenko, W (Sault S.te Marie Grey Hounds)
Egor Omelyanenko is a winger who plays with lots of energy. He has very good offensive skills as well as skating and has enough stamina to play such a style throughout the whole game. He's not a prototypical Russian player as he doesn't have such technique that you might expect from a player coming from Russia, but he has lots of dedications and likes to play hard, even along the boards and in the corners. He might need some more creativity, but his playing style can fit very well in North America, should he decide to report.
#42 Overall pick: Andrei Makarov, G (Lewiston Maineiacs)
The top 93-born goalie from Russia, Andrei Makarov has already declared that he's going to report to his CHL team before the draft. Lewiston fans can expect a very athletic netminder who can cover big parts of the net with his good frame. He needs to work pretty much on everything, but he has good potential for sure, especially considering his agility, mobility and reflexes.
#47 Overall pick: Andrei Kuchin, LW (Sudbury Wolves)
Andrei Kuchin definitely rebounded back after his year in the USHL even if he ended up undrafted after the 2010 NHL selections. He is a very talented players and he might help struggling Wolves in getting back on track on 2010-11 season. Most likely Kuchin, who has technique, stickhandling, skating and vision in his strong points, will report for the Wolves and won't be back for another year in the USHL with the Chicago Steel.
#53 Overall pick: Igor Bobkov, G (London Knights)
Once again the Knights picked up a very good player. As showed at both U18 and U20 WJCs, Igor Bobkov is a big, talented goalie with very good athletic abilities and a fast glove hand. He has a very good positional play and made great things with the national teams playing with a defense which wasn't really the best. The downside is that he didn't play a lot in the last two years, but should he cross the pond he might find the ideal space for his development. And add to this the fact that the Ducks would surely be happier to have him in North America.
#63 Overall pick: Dmitry Yashkin, RW (Calgary Hitmen)
Dmitry Yashkin, who plays in the Czech Republic and was grown there, was the first overall pick of the recent KHL junior draft. The right winger, who plays a physical style of hockey, has recently stated that he wants to spend a further year in Prague and thus hardly he will report to Calgary for the next WHL season. Sibir Novosibirsk holds his KHL rights.
#67 Overall pick: Alexander Kuvaev, RW (Lethbridge Hurricanes)
A player with a good frame, Alexander Kuvaev is a natural goal scorer who had a not bad season in the MHL as underager. He is more a goal scorer than a playmaker and he definitely has a good touch around the net as well as good mobility for his size, but he doesn't have that kind of pure talent that other Russian players have. But considering his 6'3", 190 lbs body he can become a very useful player in the physical WHL.
#72 Overall pick: Artem Sergeev, D (Val D'Or Foreurs)
Similarly to Timofei Tankeev, Artem Sergeev is another player with one year in North America already under his belt and thus he will most likely report. Artem Sergeev is a well rounded defenseman with a big shot from the point who can be very useful on the powerplay. He has only an average skating and this is certainly one area that he has to work on.
#99 Overall pick: Alexander Nikulnikov, LW (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies)
The last Russian player drafted, Nikulnikov was another surprise pick by the Huskies as he didn't play with the national team nor in the MHL, but did very well in the Open Moscow Championship. He is a gifted player who can both pass and score, but he needs to fill up his frame as he's not even 150 lbs and play better defense. He also doesn't have top end talent owned by other Russian players picked up this year.