This year’s NHL Entry Draft has a great deal of excellent young Russian prospects who hope to hear their name called on Draft day. The 2021 Draft saw 29 Russian players drafted and we could very well see this year’s draft class beat that mark, though the situation has become complicated by the worldwide criticism of Russia following their invasion of Ukraine.
It is entirely possible that we see Russian prospects fall in the draft due to worries around getting Russian players to North America and the possible backlash that could follow the selection. Another issue for Russian prospects in this year’s draft is the lack of accessibility of Russian hockey this year. Players in the Russian junior league (MHL) have been viewed less frequently this season than in recent years. Regardless, this list is based on the Final Rankings list released by NHL Central Scouting and is focused on talent level regardless of the possible political side effects of this year’s draft.
10) Yaroslav Yapparov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 49th (EU Skaters)
Yaroslav Yapparov is a forward with good size and offensive potential. Yapparov scored an impressive 53 points in 64 MHL games this season. His play was so solid that he earned a brief promotion to the VHL, Russia’s second-tier professional hockey league though he didn’t earn much ice time and was left pointless in two matches.
Yapparov is likely to be an example of a Russian prospect who will suffer due to the lack of viewings by NHL scouts. I would expect him to be selected in one of the later rounds of the 2022 Draft, somewhere from the fifth to seventh rounds.
9) Daniil Orlov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 36th (EU Skaters)
Daniil Orlov is a two-way defender with an above-average defensive game which is enhanced by his impressive skating. Orlov’s best skill is his ability to defend off the rush, both in the neutral zone and his defensive zone. At 6-foot-2 and 181 pounds, Orlov is strong enough to consistently knock his opponents off the puck in rush situations which can often lead to some good breakout passing chances where he turns his defence into offence.
The reason that Orlov is seen by most as a likely candidate to be drafted in the third round rather than going earlier is his tendency to rush while he has possession of the puck. It is quite rare to find him carrying the puck for more than a few seconds as he typically favours making a quick play rather than the best play.
8) Viktor Neuchev
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 34th (EU Skaters)
Viktor Neuchev is one of this draft’s best pure snipers. He scored an impressive 40 goals in 61 games in the MHL this season and was over a point-per-game overall. He has an excellent shot and all the confidence in the world on offense.
The reason that Neuchev will likely not be selected before the third round is that his game is currently quite one-dimensional. When he doesn’t have an open shooting lane, Neuchev can often be found making overly ambitious passes that either turn into highlight-reel plays or turnovers. He is also not a very active defensive player as he often sweeps across the blueline to give his teammates an option for a breakout pass rather than helping to shut down the threat.
7) Artyom Duda
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 28th (EU Skaters)
Artyom Duda is an offensive defenseman who has an excellent shot and an uncanny ability to shoot the puck through traffic. He was second in MHL scoring this past season among defenseman with 41 points, 14 of which were goals.
Duda is a great skater who looks calm and smooth while carrying the puck in transition. He has a solid playmaking foundation to build upon which cements his status as an offensive defenseman. His defensive game leaves plenty of room for improvement, but that is quite common for young defensemen, and it seems likely that an NHL team will take a chance on him in the second round.
6) Kirill Dolzhenkov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 22nd (EU Skaters)
At 6-foot-6 and 236 pounds, Kirill Dolzhenkov is one of the largest players in the 2022 Draft. NHL teams salivate at the thought of adding a big, strong power-forward to their team though currently the only one of those adjectives that describe Dolzhenkov is big.
Dolzhenkov’s draft stock has been heavily influenced by his size and by what scouts could imagine him being able to do someday, despite the questions that many have about his defensive game, skating ability, decision-making and his confidence in using his large frame to assert his will on opponents. Dolzhenkov could very likely be drafted in the third round this year though he will certainly be a pretty significant long-term project.
5) Gleb Trikozov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 15th (EU Skaters)
Gleb Trikozov is a high-end offensive prospect in this year’s draft who is a threat whenever he is in the offensive zone. As a 17-year-old, Trikozov was too good for the MHL but not quite ready for success in the VHL, though he did manage to play 11 games there.
Trikozov has excellent offensive potential with a solid shot, good instincts and decision making, and excellent stickhandling (not to mention he has my favourite name in the draft class). The main thing that he will need to develop is defensive consistency as he can often be a bit passive in the defensive zone. Trikozov is likely to be selected late in the first round or very early in the second round as his offensive potential is sure to excite many NHL teams.
4) Alexander Perevalov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 14th (EU Skaters)
Alexander Perevalov is a two-way forward who broke out this season as a top prospect despite being relatively unknown when the season first began. That’s what 50 points in 42 MHL games will do for you I suppose though it didn’t hurt that he was a dominant two-way force at the 2021-22 Hlinka Gretzky Cup where he scored five points in as many games.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Perevalov is a strong skater and an even better shooter who is incredibly passionate and driven when it comes to hockey and improving his game. He is an excellent forechecker and played a ton of minutes on the penalty kill in the MHL. His play was so good in fact that he earned a five-game stint in the KHL this season, Russia’s top professional league. Perevalov will likely be drafted in the first round of the 2022 Draft, though he may slip to the second round based on his lack of effectiveness while away from the puck on offense.
3) Ivan Miroshnichenko
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 11th (EU Skaters)
Ivan Miroshnichenko will be one of the most fascinating prospects to watch in this year’s draft as most talent evaluators saw him as a near-lock for the top-five of the draft at the beginning of the season, though that seems nearly impossible now. Miroshnichenko was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and the uncertainty that surrounds his recovery will certainly scare off a few teams.
If this weren’t the case, then Miroshnichenko would very likely be a top-10 pick in this year’s draft as his elite shot and NHL-ready skating make him the kind of prospect that any team would love to have. Miroshnichenko played the first half of this season in the WHL where he scored an impressive 10 goals and 16 points in only 31 games as one of the youngest players in the league. Based purely on talent, Miroshnichenko would be a lock for the top-15 though his health problems make him one of the most unpredictable players in this year’s draft. I expect him to be drafted late in the first round by a team that holds multiple first-round picks such as the Montreal Canadiens or the Buffalo Sabres.
2) Danila Yurov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 7th (EU Skaters)
Danila Yurov is the highest-ranked Russian prospect who is playing in Russia. He was dominant this season in the MHL where he scored 36 points in only 23 games. Yurov plays the game several steps ahead of most of his MHL competition and his top-end speed makes him an offensive threat from any spot in the rink.
Yurov played in the KHL for roughly half of this season, though he was victim to a common pattern in the KHL where young prospects are given little to no ice time. It was clear in those games that Yurov has more work to do when it comes to improving his shot and forechecking ability, but he has made it abundantly clear that he is too good for the MHL. Yurov has the potential to be an excellent top-six winger in the NHL someday and is almost certain to be drafted in the top-15 of this year’s first round.
1) Pavel Mintyukov
NHL Central Scouting Final Report: 6th (NA Skaters)
The highest-ranked Russian prospect in the 2022 Draft doesn’t play in Russia, but rather in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Pavel Mintyukov is an offensive defenseman who dominated the OHL in his first season of North American hockey. He was set to join the Saginaw Spirit last season; however, the OHL was eventually cancelled due to COVID-19 and he had to delay his North American premiere until the 2021-22 season. What a premiere it was.
At only 18-years-old Mintyukov finished with 62 points in 67 OHL games, the third-highest total among all OHL defenders. Like many offensive defensemen, MIntyukov has a lot of work ahead of him when it comes to his defensive game, especially when it comes to defensive zone exits. However, his high offensive ceiling makes him an intriguing prospect for NHL teams who want to add a defender who can be a part of leading their team offensively. Mintyukov will likely be drafted in the top-20 of the draft this year and could very well be the third or fourth defenceman selected following the duo of Simon Nemec and David Jiricek.
Plenty of Russian Prospects to Choose From
The 2022 NHL Entry Draft will take place in Montreal on July 7 and 8 and will see many Russian prospects drafted from the first to seventh rounds. A few other prospects to look out for who didn’t quite make this list are defenseman Arseni Koromyslov (NHL CS Rank: 50th among EU Skaters), goaltender Maxim Arefyev (NHL CS Rank: 4th EU Goalies), and winger Nikita Grebenkin (NHL CS Rank: 51st EU Skaters).
Logan is a sports writer for the Detroit Red Wings as a member of The Hockey Writers team. He loves reading about statistics and advanced analytics, and discovering how they can enrich his hockey analysis and writing. Logan also writes about more general hockey topics on his blog https://www.crashthecrease.blog.