2021-22 Team: Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
Date of Birth: December 22, 2003
Place of Birth: Chelyabinsk, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 179 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 3rd (Among EU skaters)
- Andrew Forbes January Rankings: 5th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 6th
- Dobber Prospects Mid-Season Rankings : 6th
- FC Hockey: 7th
- Bob McKenzie’s Mid-Season Rankings: 8th
- Draft Prospects Hockey Winter Rankings: 10th
- Matthew Zator’s February Rankings: 14th
- Smaht Scouting Winter Rankings: 15th
Russian prospects can sometimes be tricky to evaluate. The MHL, Russia’s junior-aged league, is a weaker league compared to the Canadian Hockey League, as many of the top players there won’t go on to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). Those that get a coveted call-up are often given terrible minutes when they arrive, as many coaches prefer experience and age, putting young players in a tough spot. For players entering their draft years, it’s a very challenging situation to be in, especially if they have their sights set on playing in North America.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
Danila Yurov is no stranger to these challenges. Last season, he dominated the junior ranks, scoring 13 goals and 25 points in 23 games in the MHL, earning a spot on the Russian U18 team at the Hlinka Gretzky Tournament, where he added another four goals and 11 points to his season. Metallurg Magnitogorsk rewarded his dominance with a call-up to the KHL and he stuck around for 21 games during the 2020-21 season. Playing minimal minutes on the fourth line, he managed to put up a goal and an assist. It may seem like a dismal output, but he was tied for first among all U18 players in the league along with Winnipeg Jets’ prospect Nikita Chibrikov.
This season, Yurov has faced increased scrutiny due to his KHL numbers, which have taken a step back; in 21 appearances, he has yet to put up either a goal or an assist. For some, that’s been enough to shuffle him back in their draft rankings, but others have been more hesitant and for good reason. However, the Russian has been even better in the MHL and already has 13 goals and 36 points in 23 games which gives him the sixth-highest point-per-game pace in the league. He also was one of the better players on Russia’s World Junior team, scoring a goal in one of their two games before the tournament was cancelled.
Had he remained in the MHL all season, Yurov would be leading the league in points. But he’s too good for the junior league, which is why he’s spent most of his time in the KHL. He’s an incredible playmaker and can identify lanes where his teammates will be, sending the puck ahead of them to create quality scoring chances thanks to his ability to read the game a few steps ahead of most players. Combined with incredible speed, he’s solidified himself as a top-10 selection for the 2022 Draft.
Of course, his game is not without flaws. While he can think several steps ahead of opponents, he needs to speed up his decision-making process, as he sometimes waits too long to make a pass and thus loses a scoring chance. He also could benefit from working on his puck handling to make him a truly dominant offensive force. However, many of those things come with age and practice, and at 18 years old, he’ll have plenty of time to work on those details.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Danila Yurov – NHL Draft Projection
Despite his low production in the KHL, it’s very hard to see Yurov falling out of the top-10, even with the emergence of Juraj Slafkovksy as a top-five threat thanks to his dominance at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Scouts aren’t quite as high on him now as they were at the beginning of the season, but after seeing Chibrikov come out of nowhere to become the Jets’ top prospect, teams certainly will be taking notes.
However, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, draft-eligible Russian players could see their draft positioning drop drastically. “Some hockey executives have already expressed concern in the upcoming draft whether those players will ever be able to come out [of Russia] and play,” said Ukrainian-born player agent Dan Milstein, who represents more than 75 percent of the NHL’s Russian and Belorussian players, “and some of them are concerned about the public opinion when certain players are drafted.” So, no matter how talented Yurov is – some even see him as the third most-talented prospect available – his future may be out of his hands.
“Yurov is a very smart two-way player, who reads the game a couple of steps ahead of his opponents. His best tool is his brain and he is always scanning the ice, making sure he is in proper position to provide his team success. Another good tool for Yurov is his motor – it always seems to be on high, consistently providing help all over the ice. He combines his motor with strong straight-line speed to help his team in the transition game. He also plays very physically, not afraid to battle in the corners. His physicality is a reason why he is playing in the KHL because he can keep up with the physical aspect of playing against men. Danila Yurov is someone to keep your eye on throughout this season as he has a good chance to sneak into the top-five of this draft.” Zack Szweras, Dobber Prospects
“Yurov’s offence is certainly promising, though his shooting ability needs improvement. His transitional abilities are excellent against lower competition, but it’s clear he is extremely efficient already and, with experience and growth, could be solid in that area at the NHL level. Finally, he is solid in the defensive zone, showing at least some promise lower in the line-up, if necessary. Yurov projects as a top-six winger, likely landing on the second line, with special teams’ upside. However, on a lower scale, Yurov looks to be a middle-six winger that can play in almost all situations. Not to say he has a safe floor, due to Russian league’s being difficult to truly evaluate a young player, but his decent defensive ability gives him a better chance to make it than if he wasn’t so reliable in that area.” – Kyle Pereira, Last Word on Sports
“If Yurov can work on his stick-handling, he will become a far more dominant offensive forward who can cut to the net with ease. The potential is there. He just needs to work on cradling the puck around attackers and honing in on his deceptive instincts to counteract his attackers’ defensive measures.” – John Tessler, SMAHT Scouting
“Danila Yurov is a player with good two-way ability who can dish passes like crazy. It would be better if he was playing in the centre position rather than a winger as he’s so positionally sound, whether it be on the offensive or defensive side. I can see a top 6 forward who can be a terrific set-up man in Yurov who has the ability to make a line much better. I can project Yurov to get around 60-70 pts a season in his prime and possess excellent defensive metrics. My player comparison for Yurov has to be Elias Pettersson, as they are Dynamic forwards who can drive a line and are excellent with stick checking. both can distribute the puck effortlessly and possess a high level of IQ.” – Rayan Tubecc, Recruit Scouting
“Yurov has the speed and skill level to be a top-two line NHL winger though he’s a bit of a tougher read because he tends to play limited minutes against men in the KHL.” – Bob McKenzie, TSN
- Hockey sense
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Shot selection and power
Yurov looks to be destined for a top-six role in the NHL, but he won’t make the jump to North America any time soon. His game is still on the raw side and will need refinement, making him a slightly riskier pick. However, for a team with plenty of depth up front, like the Detroit Red Wings, New York Islanders, or Columbus Blue Jackets, they could afford the risk and take his development slow, giving him every opportunity to become the best possible player at the highest level. He likely won’t ever become a star, but he already has shown he has all the tools to become a very good player in the NHL one day.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7/10
On top of being selected for the Russian World Junior Team this year, Yurov was a member of the Russian team that won gold in 2020 at the World Hockey U17 Challenge, where he tied for second in scoring with eight points and received a silver medal in 2021 at the U18 World Junior Championships, where he was third with 11 points.
Danila Yurov Statistics
An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.