2019-20 Team: Barz Kazan
Date of Birth: April 26, 2000
Place of Birth: Kazan, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-0 Wt: 165 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 NHL Draft Eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 5th (Among EU Goaltenders)
- Larry Fisher’s Top 500 Final Rankings: 129th
- Future Considerations: 122nd
For 2020 NHL Draft hopeful Amir Miftakhov, third time should be the charm. Despite being draft-eligible in both 2018 and 2019, he was passed over in both years, failing to draw enough interest for a late-round selection.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
In 2020, however, things appear to be different for Miftakhov. While playing for the Bars Kazan of the VHL, he posted a consistent .913 save percentage (SV%), which on its own is solid, but in line for what he did in 2018-19.
Where Miftakhov made a name for himself this year was at the 2020 World Juniors Championship (WJC). Despite being seen as Team Russia’s clear number two behind Yaroslav Askarov heading into the tournament, Askarov struggled to establish play. By the end of the tournament, Miftakhov had pushed him out of the starting role, posting a solid .919 SV%.
While Russia came up just short of the gold medal, eventually falling to Team Canada in a thrilling game, at no point did Miftakhov look outmatched against some of the top talents in the world. His strong play kept Russia in contention, and he was one of the best goalies at the entire tournament.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Amir Miftakhov– NHL Draft Projection
With his incredible performance at the 2020 WJC, it appears that Miftakhov has finally built a strong enough resume to convince a franchise to call his name at the 2020 NHL Draft.
Where he could be drafted is another question. Looking at current rankings, he should be selected somewhere around the fifth-round, but if there is a run on goaltenders, he could go as soon at the early-fourth. While he could slip to the sixth, as projecting goaltenders is impossible, it feels unlikely that he would fall much farther than that.
…Miftakhov outperformed Askarov at the World Juniors, which should ensure the elder Russian gets drafted in 2020 after getting passed over in 2018 and 2019. For the record, I had Miftakhov mocked for both those years, so I’ve always been a fan of him and hopefully the third time will be the charm for his sake.Larry Fisher – thehockeywriters.com
He is an outstanding focused athlete that anticipates and tracks ensuing looks. Patient and will wait out puck carrying attackers forcing them to make the first move… Was outstanding at the Under 18 Five Nations. Put his name in the conservation as a possible second rounder.Bill Placzek – draftsite.com
- Plays well with traffic in front of net
- Great side-to-side movement that can limit attackers
- Outplayed Yaroslav Askarov at the World Juniors
- Smaller frame
- Likely needs a few years to develop an NHL-caliber toolkit.
By all accounts, Miftakhov has the toolkit of an NHL starter, even if he is a touch small by modern standards. His movement, puck tracking and raw ability are all top-notch, and he has the potential to fight for an AHL starting role in just a few years at the very least.
Also of note is that Miftakhov is in-line to take on a playing role in the KHL with the Ak Bars Kazan. If he can develop his game against men for the next two to four seasons, he could be NHL ready by the time he is 25 years old, making him the perfect long-term investment for a franchise with stable goaltending right now.
Risk 1/5, Reward 5/5
While this is likely an unfair association, it’s impossible to look at Miftakhov right now and not think of someone like Illya Sorokin. While he may not have the ceiling of Sorokin, he has the potential to be that next great goaltender to take over a role in the NHL after spending years in the KHL honing his craft.
Given that he will likely be selected in the fifth-round or later, there really isn’t much risk involved for a franchise as long as they realize he won’t be a starter right now. In four to five years, however, there is a possibility that he could develop into a competent back-up with starter potential, making him an incredible value add for the right team.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.