By any measure, Bogdan Yakimov is tracking very well for a third-round selection. The big center—he is 6.05, 232—had a good season in Oklahoma City and finished up well (12 points in his final 13 games) before losing his year to injury. He also played a game in the NHL, something he obviously enjoyed even though it happened quickly:
- Yakimov: “It was a game in Los Angeles. The plane landed and it looks like it’s summer there, beaches, palms, Beverly Hills. It was really incredible. We got to the hotel and everything was great. You can feel the high level of organization. At the arena everything was so great that my head was going around in circles. However, I was feeling normal, and everyone around me started saying “come on, come on, congrats. Your first game, don’t worry, all will be great.” But as they tried to get myself comfortable, I started worrying (laughs). Then they announced the game, and they started broadcasting a video where they pictured center forwards, and who will play against who in the faceoff circles. And there appeared Kopitar, Richards, Carter, and some one else. I was so happy! Before the game I didn’t realize that I would be playing against such stars. I never had such emotions in my life.” Source
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/RUSSIAN PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2014 NHL draft—210 total players, 7 from Russia
- 2013 NHL draft—211 total players, 8 from Russia
- 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: 1475 total players, 46 from Russia
- PERCENTAGE: 3%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/RUSSIAN PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2014 NHL draft—6 total players, 0 from Russia
- 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: 55 total players, 2 from Russia
- PERCENTAGE: 3.6%
The KHL has impacted Russian Russians at the NHL draft. I can’t imagine there’s a place on earth where the odds of getting an actual NHL player with (say) a fourth-round pick could be higher. If you can draft him and get him to North America, the chances you’re getting a quality player are extremely high. Right?
TOP RUSSIANS IN RUSSIA, 2015
- L Denis Gurianov, Lada (MHL). Smooth offensive player, good size. Emerging PF. Quality U18.
- G Ilya Samsonov, Magnitogorsk (Rus Jr) Big goalie, good numbers, quality U18’s.
- C Alexander Dergachyov, St. Petersburg (Rus Jr). Giant skill C, attractive range of skills.
- L Mihkail Vorobyov, Ufa, Rus Jr. Big winger with some offense. 6.02, 198. Impressed U18’s.
- D Vladislav Gavrikov, Yaroslavl (KHL). Two-way defender with size and skill. He’s a 1995.
- L Kirill Kaprizov, Novokuznetsk (KHL). Small skill winger.
- D Dmitri Yudin, St. Petersburg (KHL). 6.02 D, shutdown type plays in the KHL.
- D Artem Volkov, HK MVD (MHL). Good speed, quality passer. Likes to engage physically.
- L Andrei Kuzmenko, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL). Skill winger, 5.11 181 and had an impressive season.
- D Yegor Rykov, St. Petersburg (MHL). Effective two-way D, good passer, intelligent.
Based on recent history, not all of these kids will be chosen and even fewer will make the trip over to North America. The KHL may not be all that was hoped for, but they consistently deal the NHL a body blow when it comes to the best young talent available in Russia. The Russian kids who come over are fair game, but there are genuine talents here and the Oilers should consider drafting one or two of these prospects in the hopes of getting another Yakimov or Slepyshev.