After ignoring Russia at the draft table for over 20 years—and then further walking softly for another dozen—the Edmonton Oilers are finally embracing the giant hockey country. In what can only described as a predictable result, they are finding hockey players.
NHL TOTAL PLAYERS/RUSSIAN PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2015 NHL draft—211 total players, 11 from Russia
- 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: 1,686 total players, 57 from Russia
- PERCENTAGE: 3.4%
OILERS TOTAL PLAYERS/RUSSIAN PLAYERS DRAFTED BY YEAR AND TOTAL
- 2015 NHL draft—6 total players, 1 from Russia
- 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: 61 total players, 3 from Russia
- PERCENTAGE: 4.9%
This really is an astounding item. First, Russia is being actively avoided by the NHL now—there are probably 20-25 NHL-calibre players available but teams won’t draft them because of the KHL. Second, Edmonton is now ahead of the NHL in drafting Russians! Whoa Nellie! What is going on????? In the last three drafts, the Oilers have chosen three players. The rest of the NHL, 29 other teams, have taken 23 players. Edmonton has drafted 11.5 percent of the Russians playing in that country since 2013. You have got to be kidding me. And you know what? It’s working! These are good prospects, as reflected by their current rank among Oilers prospects.
- C Bogdan Yakimov. Jumped back to the KHL in mid-season, played the rest of the year in Bakersfield. Ran in place during his second AHL season, had some injury issues and looked slower to my eye in this year’s TC. A healthy training camp in 2016 could be vital to his getting a second contract.
- R Anton Slepyshev. One of the early stars of Todd McLellan’s training camp, he has the size and speed McLellan likes in his complementary forwards. He made it into 11 NHL games, meaning Slepyshev is the first Oilers pick (‘drafted out of Russia’ division) to play more than 10 NHL games since Anatoli Semenov in 1989.
- D Ziyat Paigin. Drafted at age 20 (he is just four months younger than Yakimov), Paigin emerged this season as a legit NHL prospect. It looks like he is destined to play another season in the KHL, and after that we may see him. A very encouraging draft pick.
THE TOP RUSSIANS FOR 2016
- C German Rubtsov, Team Russia (MHL). Fine two-way forward.
- R Yegor Korshkov, Yaroslavl (KHL). Brilliant WJs, big and skilled winger.
- L Artur Kayumov, Team Russia (MHL). Fast, skilled, great shot. One dimensional.
- LD Yegor Rykov, St. Petersburg (MHL). Two-way D, good passer, intelligent. Can skate.
- L Roman Krikunenko, Yaroslav (MHL). Scored 32 points in 35 games.
- C Mikhail Maltsev, Team Russia (MHL). Impressive size (6.03, 198) and skill.
- G Mikhail Berdin, Team Russia (MHL). A strong (.929) season, highly regarded.
- C Igor Svyrev, Magnitogorsk (MHL). Skill center, spiked in the second half.
- L Evgeny Mityakin, Yekaterinburg (MHL). A 1997, scored well and has size.
- C Mikhail Meshcheryakov, Team Russia (MHL). Range of skills, spiked offensively.
- G Vladislav Sukhachyov, Team Russia (MHL). The numbers (.930) shine.
- C Andrei Svetlakov, CSKA (KHL). Skilled, gritty forward. Might be a good target.
- RD Nikita Makeyev, Team Russia (MHL). Small skill defender, might be worth a pick.
- L Oleg Susonov, Yaroslav (MHL-B). He is 6.08, 243. Lordy.