Artyom Grushnikov – 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Artyom Grushnikov

2020-21 Team: Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL), CSKA Moskva (U17, U18)
Date of Birth: March 20, 2003
Place of Birth: Yegoryevsk, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 174 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: Defense
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible

Rankings

A defensive defenseman that can chip in where needed, Artyom Grushnikov is one of the more underrated prospects heading into 2021 NHL Draft. A big reason on why scouts see him as a bit of a mystery is because he didn’t play any competitive, organized hockey this past season, following the cancellation for the 2020-21 Ontario Hockey League (OHL) season.

After committing to play the 2020-21 season with the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs, Grushnikov never ended up hitting the ice in North America, and only got in a handful of games across a couple leagues back in Russia.

Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide

Still, Grushnikov’s intangibles are certainly something to keep an eye on. His two-way game is fueled by his strong skating ability, one that allows him to create shooting lanes at one end of the ice and close gaps at the other. His acceleration and edgework allow him to efficiently position himself at both ends of the ice and his adaptability makes him flexible in all situations.

Artyom Grushnikov Team Russia
Grushnikov possesses an outstanding skating ability (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada via Russia Hockey/FHR.RU)

With a keen sense for breaking up plays in the neutral zone, Grushnikov is aggressive in his own end and rarely passes on a chance to make a poke check or step up for a hit. Winning puck battles in all areas of the ice feeds into his defensive awareness, and his fearlessness makes him an ideal candidate to break up any sustained pressure from the opposition. Showing early signs of becoming a lockdown penalty killer, Grushnikov’s well-balanced defensive game is a promising sign for things to come.

Grushnikov reads the play extremely well and while he’s always quick to move the puck out of his own zone, he could benefit from being more patient and using his powerful strides to generate more offense. Still, his hockey IQ alone makes him incredibly effective in any situation and his versatility puts him in a prime position to find success in any role he’s given.

Offensively, while being a bit of a question mark, Grushnikov still manages to make an impact. His aforementioned edgework allows him to open up shooting lanes from the point and his aggressive mindset leads to more pinches from the blue line. While he does make smart reads from anywhere on the ice, his comfort with the puck on his stick is a point of improvement for the young Russian, as there is undoubtedly untapped offensive potential.

Should Grushnikov look to become a more well-rounded presence, he’ll likely need to add muscle and find consistency in his offensive game. Right now, he has all the tools to find success at the higher levels of hockey, it’s just a matter of putting it all together. He’ll have that chance when he finally sees North American ice as a member of the Hamilton Bulldogs, where he’ll look to maintain his current defensive effectiveness while adding another level to his point production.

Other THW Profiles

Artyom Grushnikov – 2021 NHL Draft Projection

It’s no secret that Grushnikov has all the tools to succeed. His defensive game is at an advanced level for his age and with some improvement, he could be an early dark horse candidate at this year’s draft. Like many others, the cancellation of the 2020-21 OHL season certainly put a damper on his development, which is likely the reason why so many of his rankings seem to be inconsistent, but the potential is clearly there. With there being a need for defensemen with offensive upside and defensive awareness in today’s NHL, Grushnikov could easily find himself donning a new jersey early in the third round.

Quotables

“A rock solid defensive defenseman with a knack for adapting to plays as they arrive. He positions himself very well between the puck carrier and the net to block off most of the dangerous options and then picks his spot to either throw his body weight at the skater or step up with his stick to poke the puck free.”

Dylan Griffing, DobberProspects

“Grushnikov can pinch at the line or join the rush and still get back defensively. He has strong agility as well as edgework. This helps him to maintain good gap control. It also allows him to walk the line in the offensive zone and create passing and shooting lanes.”

Ben Kerr, Last Word On Sports

Strengths

  • Hockey IQ
  • Skating
  • Aggressiveness
  • Transitions

Under Construction – Improvements to Make

  • Patience
  • Offensive Awareness
  • Strength/Shooting

NHL Potential

A legitimate prospect with top-four potential, Grushnikov is in control of his own destiny. Joining the Hamilton Bulldogs should work wonders for his development, and should put him in a great position to sign professionally should he continue to improve. The 2020-21 season may have been a bit unorthodox for him, but with where his defensive game is at, in combination with where his offensive game could eventually be, this is a prospect that is well on his way to being a consistent player, and potential top-four defenseman, at the NHL level.

Risk/Reward Analysis

Risk – 2.5/5, Reward – 4/5

Awards/Achievements

Grushnikov represented Team Russia at the 2019-20 Hlinka/Gretzky Cup, helping the Russians capture a gold medal. He also suited up for Team Russia en route to another gold medal at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge and captured another gold at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.

Artyom Grushnikov Statistics

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