The Oilers began using Russia as a resource about 100 years after everyone else. Among a generation of poor decisions, this would have to rank up there. Oh well, at least they changed their crazy ways in time to become permanent residents of Yak City.
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/RUSSIAN PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 8 from the Q
- 2012 NHL draft–211 total players, 6 from Russia
- 2011 NHL draft, 211 total players, 6 from Russia
- 2010 NHL draft 210 total players, 4 from Russia
- 2009 NHL draft, 211 total players, 6 from Russia
- 2008 NHL draft, 211 total players, 9 from Russia
- FINAL TALLY: 1265 total players, 39 from the Q
- PERCENTAGE: 3%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/RUSSIAN PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2013 NHL draft—10 total players, 2 from Russia
- 2012 NHL draft–7 total players, 0 from Russia
- 2011 NHL draft–9 total players, 0 from Russia
- 2010 NHL draft–11 total players, 0 from Russia
- 2009 NHL draft–7 total players, 0 from Russia
- 2008 NHL draft–5 total players, 0 from Russia
- FINAL TALLY: 49 total players, 2 from Russia
- PERCENTAGE: 4%
It’s shocking to see how much the KHL has impacted Russians in Russia at the NHL draft. If you’re an agent, and your kid is good enough, you have to get him to North America at 15 or 16. The Oilers covered the average and exceeded it with two picks in the third round last season. I can’t imagine there’s a place on earth where the value is higher—there must be NHL players in Russian junior and pro leagues. The worry? Signing them and bringing these kids over. Putin is a factor in most world events, he and Medvedev are certainly influencing NHL teams.
I’m hesitant to give credit to Craig MacTavish for this, although he is the executive who is responsible for the 2013 selections. It’s my opinion the credit for Edmonton’s new view on Russia comes from their decision to draft Nail Yakupov. I also believe we’re seeing immediate positive results, Yakimov coming to North America being evidence.
I didn’t have a Russia-Oilers post last spring—why would anyone have believed it?—but the two prospects chosen were well known.
- Corey Pronman on Slepyshev: Passed over in last year’s draft, mostly due to signability concerns. Despite being ranked 17th in last year’s Hockey Prospectus draft rankings, he falls to 45th this season, simply due to the depth of the draft class. He is an above-average skater, with agility and free movement, as his shiftiness makes him hard to check. He has a plus shot and he knows it, as his mentality is often shoot-first, even from distance. He can still make plays, and he does not have tunnel vision, but his playmaking skills are not his best element. His physical game has progressed, and he has added strength since last season. He can protect pucks moderately well. He will display physical effort, although it could be better at times. He also needs to work on his defensive game.
- Pronman on 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.
TOP DRAFT ELIGIBLES 2014, Russia
- L Vladislav Kamenev, Magnitogorsk 2: Impressive skill player with size, lit U-18′s on fire. 6.02, 176.
- G Ilya Sorokin, Metallurg: Young goalie has been impressive—in the KHL.
- L Semyon Koshalev, Kazzinc-Torpedo: Skill player of note, he has value among KHL teams.
- L Andrei Kuzmenko, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva: Skill winger, 5.11 168 and one of the smaller forward on the list.
- L Alexander Sharov, CSKA 2: Impressive scorer is 6.01, 180 and has been quality for two seasons.
- D Nikita Cherepanov, Yaroslavl: 6.01, 180, went 54gp, 4-11-15 and +27 this season.
- D Vladislav Gavrikov, Magnitogorsk 2: 6.02, 190 and posted solid numbers across the board.
- L Artur Boltanov, Magnitogorsk 2: 6.01, 163, he was part of the Russian tour of juniors and scored well.
- R Yegor Korshkov, Yaroslavl 2: Tall, lanky scoring winger who has played on some National teams.
- D Yevgeni Voronkov, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva: Big, lanky kid who looks like he could be from around here.
It’s anyone’s guess where these kids go, chances are fewer than 10 will be selected during the entire 2014 draft. I’m very interested in that Kamenev fellow, and can’t help but be impressed with the career progress of Sorokin. Will the Oilers take another Russian? There’s value here, suspect they will proceed based on getting diamonds where others dare not roam. Funny to be in this situation after so many years in the wilderness.
LOWDOWN WITH LOWETIDE
Friday! Busy show with interesting guests! TSN 1260 beginning at 10. Scheduled to appear:
- Steve Lansky, Big Mouth Sports. Bob Cole, Habs out, NHL combine.
- Alanna Phillips, CFL is for Girls. Impressive blog, interesting opinions.
- Corey Pronman, ESPN. Draft, focusing on Euro’s like Kamenev, your questions welcome.
- Paul Almeida, Saturday Sports Extra. Previewing tomorrow’s show guests, which include Magnus Paajarvi’s Dad. !!!!.
10-1260 via text, @Lowetide_ on twitter. If you have a question for Pronman or any of our guests, twitter is the best way to get them through.