The Edmonton Oilers spent two of their draft picks in 2013 on Russians, giving the club a growing арсенал of youngsters from the Motherland. Bogdan Yakimov in an intriguing selection for several reasons–he’s a big man at 18 (6.04, 201) with skilled hands and that’s a deadly combination. He’s also from Nail Yakupov’s hometown and the Oilers are his favorite team:
- Yakimov: “I’m extremely happy, because I’ve been waiting to be selected. I was already at the edge of my nerves, so this was a huge relief to be selected by anybody, particularly by the Edmonton Oilers. In Nizhnekamsk, the most favourite team of anybody is Edmonton Oilers, because Nail Yakupov is from the same town.”
COREY PRONMAN: #73 OVERALL
- Yakimov had a decent season playing in the second-tier Russian pro league, and he was a final cut from the Russian World Junior squad. He is a big center, measuring in at about 6’5″. He may not have the top-end tools of a typical top Russian prospect, but he is talented and he plays a good power game. His hands are above average, and while he can certainly make some moves and carry the puck into the opposing zone, he is not an overly creative forward. He also has pretty good hockey sense, as he makes quick decisions, sees the ice well, and positions himself effectively. As mentioned, he is a big body player, but he could use some more muscle to fill out and make the most of his frame. Still, he is effective when protecting the puck on the boards, and he will drive the net, making use of his physical assets. His main issue is his skating, as it is below average. His top speed and his first few steps are subpar, and while has shown some improvement, he must continue to progress in that area.
FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS: #102
- “Yakimov is a big, tough center who thrives in the face-off circle where he uses his size and strength to over power opponents… He’s solid at both ends of the ice and gets most of his goals and points by getting his nose dirty around the net.” Roman Solovoev, FC scout
CHRISTIAN ROATIS, FLAMES NATION
- Yakimov is ranked amidst a group of similar “power forward” prospects like John Hayden, Avery Peterson and Nick Moutrey among others. If Calgary is looking to add size with some scoring upside at the 66th pick they’ll have plenty to choose from. Yakimov however stacks up well against his rivals in terms of the complete package he offers and . He’s sufficient in all 3 zones and has shown he can put up offensive consistently – in a second tier league at least. He’s also close to being NHL ready – he’s already there size wise – and if he continues to be stonewalled by his KHL team, he could pull a reverse Radulov and bolt to North America for a shot at the show.
RYAN PIKE, THE HOCKEY WRITERS
- He’s big. He’s physical. He’s willing to battle in the major traffic lanes to score. His game is not without warts, though. He could be a better skater and he lacks elite play-making ability. But he’s arguably more consistent than a lot of players, lacking huge peaks to his game but lacking massive valleys. More from Pike here.
THE DRAFT: #83 OVERALL
- Yakimov on talking to NHL teams about playing in the KHL: “I was constantly asked about the KHL. I want to play over there because it isn’t a bad league and there’s good money.”
- Bruce McCurdy at prospects camp: Huge centre from Yakupov’s home territory of Nizhnekamsk. He was often seen in close proximity to Daniil Zharkov, the other Russian speaker at camp (Sergei Slepyshev was unable to attend due to work visa issues). Yakimov has plenty of work to do on skating and related mobility issues, but was at his most impressive any time he had a puck on his stick. Unfortunately he and Zharkov both missed the final day so we got little chance to see them in a scrimmage situation.
BY THE NUMBERS
- Bogdan Yakimov
- October 4, 1994
- 11, 6-7-13 Reaktor Nizhnekamsk (MHL)
- NHLE: Unavailable
- Acquired: Oilers acquired #83 (Yakimov), #94 (Houck) and #113 (Aidan Muir) from St. Louis for #57 overall (William Carrier).
- Yakimov represented Russia at the 2011 and 2012 Under-18 World Championships.
- Represented Russia during the Subway Super Series in the fall of 2012.
I love the pick after doing a little digging (liked it at first blush but am now very strong on him). Why? Well the words of Ryan Pike above suggest a valuable player and the video evidence above seems to confirm it. This is a kid who can wheel when he gets rolling but he’s going to make his living down low, along the wall and winning puck battles. That’s a skill that is extremely rare in the Oilers prospect group, and he does appear to be quite good at it already.
The one concern I did have is that Yakimov didn’t play in the KHL, however it makes sense that he would have had a difficult time during a lockout year (Nail Yakupov and other NHLers were part of the KHL this past season). This Christian Roatis article fills in the blanks.
MacGregor: “Well with Mac, skill is really important to him. That’s something that he’s looked for. Obviously the other intangibles of character, hard work, quality of people and players who are passionate to play the game are important, but he really has a high regard for skill.”
This pick is about skill and the risk/reward is high on this player. He may play for the Edmonton Oilers for a decade and he may never see the light of day in the NHL. The key–and the major point to make here–is that if he does make the NHL it will be as a skilled center with size. In this way, the selection of Yakimov (and really the entire draft save one) is about grabbing skill and finding a potential difference maker.