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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13 Responses to "Vladimir Zharkov"

  1. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Has golf ever appealed to you LT?

  2. Lowetide says:

    FCM: I golf, but it’s not a game that speaks to me like baseball or hockey. Plus I slice everything.

  3. uni says:

    I’d like to see him in Oil silks or the NHL in general if only for the opportunity to hear a commentator call him Doctor Zharkov. All you Flash Gordon fans out there knew you were thinking it =D.

    Also I love the +/- aberrations as much as the next guy. Anyone remember that one insane season around ’98 when Karpotsev put up a godly +38 in 56 games? The Leafs managed to parlay that and a 4th round pick a season later into McCabe.

  4. Fake Craig McTavish says:

    Lowetide said…
    FCM: I golf, but it’s not a game that speaks to me like baseball or hockey. Plus I slice everything.

    I was just pulling your putter. :)

  5. Quinn says:

    Also I love the +/- aberrations as much as the next guy.

    From the little one can glean from his career to date, that is what this year looks like. I am sure that the Lamoriello gives him another year to see if this is a merely great year for a bad player or the start of a good player’s career (AHL or NHL).

    Either way, a nice diversion on a Monday morning.

  6. Mr. Bugg says:

    Good timing- I just finished writing up Zharkov’s prospect summary for the DobberHockey Fantasy Prospect Report.

    Here’s what I can tell you:

    Vladimir Zharkov, RW
    The New Jersey Devils are so good at finding defensively excellent forwards that they can even find them in Russia! Jingoism aside, Russia is not exactly known as a place for grinding shutdown wingers, but Vladimir Zharkov breaks the mold. Blessed with every gift- terrific skating ability, pro size and a great work ethic- New Jersey’s 3rd round pick in 2006 came over to the AHL this past season and passed with flying colors. The 21 year-old winger finished fourth in team scoring with a paltry 34 points, but it was his plus/minus that stood out. On an impotent squad that saw only six regulars finish even or better, Zharkov registered a team-leading +23- 18 more than next-nearest Rod Pelley. Zharkov’s heart and willingness to compete in every zone should put him at the top of the call-up list for 2009-10. When not on the roster, look for him step up and take more risks offensively.
    Upside – Elite checking forward, 25-25-50, 40 PIM
    Certainty (NHLer; Upside): 65%, 80%
    NHL Debut: 2010-11

  7. bookie says:

    I don’t know anything about Vladimir Zharkov so I don’t feel that it is appropriate for me to comment here.

    Oh wait..I just commented…ack…

  8. Jonathan Willis says:

    From Russian Prospects:Scout 1:handles heavy traffic adequately well and doesn’t back down from physical challenges…returns back to the defensive zone but is raw in his defensive awareness…okay at closing the opposing passing lanes…should stay with his man more often in his own end.

    Scout 2:drives well to the net through traffic and people, which is an impressive quality for a young player…fights hard in the corners and at his age already succeeds at the Super League, as well as the international level…does not play well defensively, though he does come back into his own zone, does not do his job in his zone all the way.

    I did some digging and defensive ability seems to be a consensus knock on Zharkov, which makes me suspect that his +/- has more to do with situational play than defensive ability. Still, it is just a suspicion.

  9. RiversQ says:

    I did some digging and defensive ability seems to be a consensus knock on Zharkov, which makes me suspect that his +/- has more to do with situational play than defensive ability. Still, it is just a suspicion.Situational play is usually the best explanation. In fact, that’s usually what the Selke trophy really is – “Most Effective Use of Continuously Advantageous Situations.”

    Ridiculously absurd SH%/SV% is a really good explanation too.

    However, you can probably take the scouts’ words with a whopping grain of salt. They’re probably talking about one game and all it takes is one shift to be called poor defensively in that sort of evaluation. (People always remember mistakes more than plays when it comes to defense anyway.)

    The other slim possibility is that he’s from the Penner/Laraque school of defense.

    Just throwing stuff against the wall.

  10. Traktor says:

    “People always remember mistakes more than plays when it comes to defense anyway.”

    Yup. It happened with Bergie and now it is happening again with Gilbert.

    Bergeron would have 9 good breakout passes and one that ended up on the oppositions stick and fans would be calling for his head while Gator chipped it off the glass 10 times outta 10 and the fans thought he played defense to a perfection.

    In a 10 man poker tournament you can fold every single hand and would probably finish 4th or 5th just by waiting for others to knock themselves out. Of course you don’t give yourself a chance to win the damn thing either.

    The fact that Gilbert actually has his a sizable amount of critics tells me I give the average fan way, way too much credit.

    Next I’ll be hearing how Brooks’ idea of Penner for Gomez would be a great play.

    Or how Edmonton should bring back Gramps because he was our MVP last year – “Give him two years if that’s what it takes!”

  11. Bruce says:

    The New Jersey Devils are so good at finding defensively excellent forwards that they can even find them in Russia!

    Uh, Sergei Brylin?

    Upside – Elite checking forward, 25-25-50, 40 PIM.

    Sounds like the guy at the bottom of this list.

    Not quite a Russian, but a USSR native. 16-23-39, +18, 44 PIM, led Penguins forwards in +/- with the third toughest QualComp (+0.04). Also led all Penguins (60+ GP) in GF:GA ratio. Doesn’t fit the “impotent squad” description of Zharkov’s current team, more the “Most Effective Use of Continuously Advantageous Situations” that RiversQ references. But he’s a good support player, and guys with that kind of upside (real or imagined) are worth investing time in.

    Fedotenko is a personal favourite cuz of the extremely unusual route he took to the bigs: Finland-2, SJHL, USHL, ECHL, AHL, NHL, and eventually won a Stanley Cup. Good to see him succeeding once again in an advantageous situation.

  12. Jonathan Willis says:

    RiversQ/Traktor: Agreed on all points.

  13. Master Lok says:

    Traktor: Bergeron would have 9 good breakout passes and one that ended up on the oppositions stick and fans would be calling for his head while Gator chipped it off the glass 10 times outta 10 and the fans thought he played defense to a perfection. While I agree with the scenario, I think 9 is an exaggeration. I was calling for Bergie’s head because the number was more like 3 good breakout passes for every one god-awful turnover pass. and that’s just too chaotic for the last man back in my books.

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