Bogdan Yakimov plays less than 10 minutes a night, has been moved to the wing and has 10 points in 27 KHL games—these are good signs. It’s early, but Yakimov might be the first Russian trained Oiler NHLer since Anatoli Semenov.
PREVIOUSLY NUMBER SIX ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: R Colin McDonald
- December 2005: D Matt Greene
- December 2006: D Tom Gilbert
- December 2007: C Kyle Brodziak
- December 2008: L Liam Reddox
- December 2009: L Linus Omark
- December 2010: L Curtis Hamilton
- December 2011: G Tyler Bunz
- December 2012: D Martin Gernat
This has been very productive spot over the decade, with Gilbert, Brodziak and Greene established NHLers and Colin McDonald on his way to being one (a decade after he was drafted in 2003). Later years have been mostly miss, but there story has yet to be written on some of these players and as McDonald shows it can take time. It’s interesting to note that the players who succeed from here are not the first round selections, but rather college men and slow developing juniors.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Pronman: 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.
- Bogdan 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.”
POINTS BY DISCIPLINE, 2013-14
|YAKIMOV 2013-14 KHL
||27, 5-5-10||27, 0-0-0||27, 0-0-0||27, 5-5-5|
|YAKIMOV 2013-14 NHLE||82, 12-12-24||82, 12-12-24|
Yakimov’s KHL numbers come via 9:32 TOI and from the looks of things there’s no powerplay time involved (we could probably gather that from the description above). A year ago, Nail Yakupov went 22, 9-9-18 in the same league with 6 goals at evens and 3 on the power play (can’t find assists by discipline) and 14:24 TOI. We know Yakimov isn’t close to Yakupov as an offensive player, but 10 points in 27 games with 9:32 TOI looks good—especially considering he’s 6.05 and over 200 pounds at 19 years old.
PREVIOUS TOP 20 RANKING
- Summer 2013: 8
- Winter 2013: 6
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING THIS SEASON
- 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
- Corey Pronman: Edmonton’s Bogdan Yakimov and Anton Slepyshev will not make the trip (for the Subway Series), but very likely will be at the WJC.
When discussing the possible arrival of a Russian player, there are more than the usual number of factors. The KHL is likely to be more attractive financially for Yakimov, as he’s unlikely to emerge as an impact player. His chances of being a top 6F for the Oilers in the next three seasons (through 2017 summer) are not high, and that may impact his arrival in North America (likely to play in Oklahoma City). There are two things in his favor. Yakimov’s size is a strong area of need throughout the organization, and the fact that he plays center (at least some of the time) also makes him a player of interest.
In ranking Yakimov #6 overall, I’m putting a player with less range (he’s not a creative forward with high skills) ahead of a number of prospects who have more to offer. Yakimov’s position, size and early returns from the KHL (he’s posting offense, suggesting he can handle a top 9 role) put him ahead of an impressive group of amateur forwards.
He’ll need to continue posting offensive numbers consistently, but this appears to be a quality NHL prospect.