Last season, Daniil Zharkov began the season fast and stayed hot past Christmas. On New Year’s Eve, he’d scored 15 goals in 18 games.
Zharkov’s season by month perhaps shows just how streaky he was a year ago:
- November: 9, 7-4-11
- December 9, 8-0-8
- January 11, 0-3-3
- February 13, 5-5-10
- March 8, 3-1-4
So far this season, Zharkov is 6, 1-2-3 which is not especially impressive but no reason to panic either. Zharkov is an interesting player because of his size and skill. If he can score goals in junior and then duplicate it at higher levels, this is an extremely valuable hockey player.
Should we be worried about consistency?
My opinion goes like this: until we have an established level of ability–say 3 seasons of 20 or more goals–then we’re not really able to get a feel for a player’s consistency. Put another way, when Ryan Smyth scored 39 NHL goals at age 20 we had some evidence he could score–a junior season of 50 goals and another junior season of 41 goals. Its evidence, good arrows.
In the OHL last season, the following 17-year olds scored 20 or more goals:
- Nail Yakupov 31
- Scott Kosmachuk 30
- Radek Faksa 29
- Reid Boucher 28
- Brendan Gaunce 28
- Alexander Khokhlachev 25
- Connor Brown 25
- Daniil Zharkov 23
- Nathan Pancel 23
- Brady Vail 22
- Andreas Athanasiou 22
- Scott Laughton 21
- Gemel Smith 21
Now, since this is junior hockey and we’ve seen miles and miles of kids over the last 50 years, we can say with some authority that a kid scoring 23 at 17 should hit 30goals at 18 and maybe 35-40 at 19.Right? Progress, good arrows.
I think that’s a stellar list. The OHL is one of the three best junior leagues on the planet, some say it is the best. We don’t know if Zharkov will be a scorer at higher levels, hell we’re not certain he’ll score 23 again. We do know that he’s built a foundation as a scorer, he’s shown signs of being what a scorer looks like at his age.
If he can score, and we factor in Pronman’s scouting report, this is going to be a helluva player.
- Pronman: Zharkov had a pretty impressive first OHL season despite somewhat underwhelming counting numbers. He’s a good skater who hits a desirable top speed, with good first step quickness, showing very good agility and ability to evade defenders. That last part is also due to his puck skills, which are plus, as he can really dangle and has a lot of individual ability. His goal to assist ratio may give the indication of a poor passer or a puck hog, and while he’ll occasionally look like the latter, he does show many instances of being a fine puck distributor. Zharkov is much better, though, at making moves and getting into shooting position where he displays high-end finishing ability. He shows a fine physical game, as while he still needs to put on strength, he has a projectable frame and will work hard on the forecheck and when he has to battle along the boards. Zharkov doesn’t show that same effort in the other end, and will have to address his defensive game significantly going forward. While he still has some holes in his game, he has great upside and is worth the risk.