Vladimir Zharkov

This is Vladimir Zharkov. He’s just completed what looks to be a terrific season in the American Hockey League.

Zharkov doesn’t have a lot to recommend him, he was not a high pick (77th overall in 2006 to New Jersey–he was taken two spots after Edmonton chose Theo Peckham) and is not mentioned often as a prospect of interest.

Hockey’s Future barely has him ranked (#18) and you have to be a fan of the Devils to even know about him.

I’m aware of him as a player only because of his rookie AHL season. This was a 20-year old who came from Russia after doing the “Rita” (named in honor of Jani Rita, who followed up his draft day by sitting on his ass for two seasons while everyone else got better) for the first two seasons after he was drafted by Lou the Terrible.

Vladimir Zharkov played for a bad hockey club in Lowell. They were 30 below in the GF-GA game and although they were 19 points better than Springfield this club was a mess. One of the things I like to do every summer is look through the minor league stats. It’s an old habit which began in childhood when the Hockey News would arrive at the Rexall Drugstore in Maidstone, Saskatchewan.

I used to look for players who had great success in a specific column. It was always fun and I discovered players like Wayne Schaab and Lyle Bradley and some others. Anyway, this season’s Wayne Schaab is this Zharkov fellow. It started with a quick glance at their team plus/minus numbers (this is for forwards who played more than 50 games):

  1. Vladimir Zharkov +23
  2. Rod Pelley +5
  3. Alexander Vasyunov +3
  4. Michael Swift +2
  5. Stephen Gionta -3
  6. Ryan Murphy -3
  7. Niklas Bergfors -3
  8. PL Letourneau-Leblond -5
  9. Barry Tallackson -7
  10. Pascal Rheaume -9
  11. Brad Mills -12
  12. Jon DiSalvatore -15

I don’t know what the odds are for that kind of number over a full season but they have to be up there. I’m certain this kid wasn’t playing the best opponents from the other side, but that’s a killer number against anyone in the AHL (taken in context). Turns out this Zharkov fellow didn’t get much PP time either (2-1-3) and I don’t think he picked up any PK points. Which means he played 69 AHL games at 20, scored 9-22-31 at EV strength and (I believe) led his team in that department.

Jon DiSalvatore popped a couple of SH goals and went 5-21-26 on the PP, meaning he scored 25 EV points. Niklas Bergfors went 12-9-21 on the PP (and I didn’t check the PK) and that means 30 points is his total before checking the shorthanded situation. Rod Pelley was 3-5-8 with the man advantage and that means his outside total is 30. So, we’ve got a 20-year old Russian kid playing in Lowell and not getting noticed much. He’s 6.01, 195, he plays RW (but shoots left) and we don’t know much else about him.

I’ve never seen him play, but Vladimir Zharkov is an interesting player. I’d bet money they counted on him more at the end of the season than they did in the beginning.

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