On Day Two of the entry draft, I have paper all over hell’s half acre. There are usually several players I like in a range and the second round pick is the major deal of the day. Edmonton didn’t have one this year, meaning a lot of great prospects passed before the Oilers got to pick on Saturday.
By the time the Oilers drafted Samorukov No. 84 overall, the list of players I was staring at as reasonable to excellent options were:
- No. 29 RC Scott Reedy, USNDTP (USHL). Center with speed, range of skills, dynamic.
- No. 32 C Mason Shaw, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL). Small skill C, terrific skills.
- No. 33 R Nicholas Henry, Regina Pats (WHL). Emerging scorer. 35 goals.
- No. 35 L Nikita Popugaev, Prince George (WHL). Big, good skater, plus shot.
- No. 40 LD Noel Hoefenmeyer, Ottawa 67s (OHL). Range of skills.
- No. 43 LC Evan Barratt, USNDTP (USHL). Small finesse center with skill.
- No. 52 L Ostap Safin, Sparta Praha (Cze). Big forward, good skater, has plus skills.
At that point, I was wondering if the skill we talked about heading into the weekend (discussed here, on the Saturday) began and ended with the Friday night choice (Kailer Yamamoto).
Oilers take another favourite of mine in Dmitri Samorukov. A massive enigma, but he's got fantastic potential. Very high upside.
— OHL Prospects (@BrockOtten) June 24, 2017
With Samorukov chosen, it gave me a chance to look around at the player (I had him in Round 5) and why he landed in the third round. My list favors undersized skill, Edmonton took my top guy in the category with their first-round selection, so names like Shaw and Barratt getting passed over were predictable. I know why I had Samorukov ranked No. 133, but why did the Oilers have him inside their (probably) second round? And where did the services have him?
- Bob McKenzie: No. 76
- Craig Button: No. 53
- Corey Pronman: No. 76
- Hockey Prospect: No. 65
- The Draft Analyst: No. 65
That puts him at No. 67 on average, early third round. As mentioned, my list is heavy on skill, so right away we know that Samorukov delivers significant value on the defensive side of the puck. Here is what I wrote on draft evening in the Harvest Moon post:
- No. 12 (NR) LD Dmitri Samorukov. Two-way defender with good speed, mobility and he can move the puck. Improved over the course of the season as a defender but some chaos remains in his game. Has a hard shot, not yet the sum of his parts. Has a risk-reward resume somewhat similar to Safin.
Here are some words from the scouting services:
- Corey Pronman: Samorukov is mobile. His skill level isn’t elite, but he’s a smart puck-mover. On defense, he’s not afraid to get involved in the physical play and can win battles. I see solid hockey IQ in his game. Source
- ISS: Two-way defenceman who possesses a very good skill-set and skating ability.
- Black Book: Dmitri has good size on the back end and plays an offensively minded game.
Interesting. Offense gets mentioned, referred to as a two-way type by three sources. Whenever an OHL player is drafted, I check out Brock Otten:
- No. 17. Up and down year for Samorukov. Started off the year very well, but really hit a wall through the middle of the season, up until the final couple of months. Then he finished the year exceptionally well, including a very strong performance for Russia at the U18’s. This is the type of inconsistency I was talking about in Adam Ruzicka’s write up. When he’s off, Samorukov looks lost on the ice. Turnovers a plenty and a lot of puck chasing defensively. A lot of that can be attributed to the team he played on this year in Guelph though, who struggled as a team with turnovers and consistency in effort. But when he was on, which was the vast majority of the second half, he looked like a legitimate NHL prospect. Samorukov is an excellent skater who showcases a great ability as a puck rusher. But he also has a big point shot, which he was able to really improve the accuracy of later in the year. Defensively, I really like his intensity. Sure, he runs around a little too much sometimes. And sure, his reads could use some work. But, he plays the game hard in his own end and really makes opposing forwards keep their heads up. There’s a lot of potential to develop into a quality two-way defender with Samorukov IMO, and as such I think he’s really worked himself back into the conversation as a 2nd round pick come June. Source
I reached out to Brock about an expanded role for Samorukov in Guelph, but the young defender was already playing a feature role this past season. Expect more of the same, and an increase in points is likely on an improving Guelph Storm team. I’ll update at Christmas.