If not for unforeseen circumstances out of his control, Ivan Miroshnichenko would’ve gone much higher in the draft than he did. He was listed as a top-five prospect after the 2021-22 season but was unfortunately diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma in March 2022, putting a temporary halt on his career. The Washington Capitals ended up selecting Miroshnichenko 20th overall in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft after a long battle through adversity and an impressive showing in the VHL with Omskie Krylia, where he scored 10 goals and added six assists for 16 points in 31 games.
2022-23 Season For Miroshnichenko
The uncertainty surrounding Miroshnichenko’s future put a stain on his potential for most teams, thus allowing him to fall as far as he did in the draft. The Capitals accepted the risk of using a first-round draft choice on a player that has battled through a lot of adversity and proves they are willing to be patient as he progresses slowly back to his best form in Europe.
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With time spent between the MHL, VHL, and Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), he has been able to stand out as an all-around player that can score, hit and defend against any level of competition. He has 18 games played in the KHL with Avangard Omsk, where he has scored two goals and added an assist for three points. In the VHL with Omskie Krylia, he had three assists through four games, and in the MHL with Omskie Yastreby, he had over a point per game with eight goals and three assists for 11 points through eight games.
His elite skating, shot, and size makes him tough to manage for opposing teams.– EPRinkside.Com (Meet the Team: Russia’s Under-18 World Hockey Championships roster – 2021)
For a player that has battled through more than most people his age, Miroshnichenko has shown no fear in his return to playing at such a high level. Aside from his scoring ability, his physicality hasn’t taken a step back and he remains a sound defensive player. The Capitals have secured themselves a true stud, and he could be ready to make the transition to North American hockey as soon as next season.
Miroshnichenko’s Future In Washington
Although he is still likely another season away from getting a chance to crack the Capitals roster, Miroshnichenko has stood out as an 18-year-old playing amongst men older than him in the KHL. His lack of offensive production can be excused by the impact he has away from the puck. He knows he can’t score at will against this high a level and has instead transformed into more of a two-way player.
He is easily the best prospect in the Capitals’ system and rightfully so. Looking at the organization’s depth chart on left-wing shows they have some weaknesses as the seasons go on. They don’t have the strongest forward core as it stands already, so they’ll likely be looking to make changes in the near future to try and help the core they’ve been working with for a number of seasons get their second Stanley Cup.
I can see him getting an opportunity with the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League next season in an attempt to have his play adapt to the North American style. As far as an NHL opportunity goes, I think the earliest he can crack the roster is the 2024-25 season. His offensive skill alone could be attractive enough to earn him a chance next season, but the smart move would to be let him develop more. I have no doubt in my mind that he’ll dominate the minor leagues, it’s just a matter of taking his confidence and transferring it to the NHL.
I would go as far as to argue Miroshnichenko is a top-10 prospect in the NHL. A young player with the level of talent he possesses is hard to find, and it’s rare to see an 18-year-old dominate the way he does just about everywhere he goes. The KHL has been his first major test as a youngster, and he’s been passing with flying colors. The points will come as long as the little things away from the puck are done right, and that’s exactly what he has been doing.