2022-23 Team: Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Date of Birth: February 4, 2005
Place of Birth: Kostroma, Russia
Height: 6-foot-4, Weight: 201 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: First Year Eligible
- NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): 22nd
- Elite Prospects: 12th
- Smaht Scouting: 15th
- TSN Bob McKenzie: 35th
- Dobber Prospects: 44th
- The Hockey Writers (Horn): 24th
Dmitri Simashev is a big defensive-defensemen with questionable offensive potential and unquestionable defensive fortitude. He’s a polarizing defensive prospect with a pro-ready defensive game that saw him earn a spot on a good KHL team last Fall as a 17-year-old. He finished the season with 18 games played in the top pro league in Russia, though he didn’t play a ton of minutes in some of those games. So why was he trusted to play for such a good team at such a young age?
Simashev’s size and skating combo is more than enough to get NHL general managers excited and he has an advanced enough defensive game to keep up and compete with grown men in the KHL this year. He defends extremely well for such a young player, shutting down plays with his long reach and his strong frame. There’s room to grow in terms of physical play, and I expect that will come as he gets more comfortable in his body once he stops growing.
He prevents zone entries very well, with his long stick and great skating making him a very adaptable defender moving back into his own zone. Simashev is also growing in his ability to carry the puck off the rush as seen below.
The biggest question mark in his game right now is if he has NHL-caliber offensive skill. He produced points at a very low rate this season which has made some people understandably worried that he won’t have much offense to give in the NHL. I’m not too worried as he shows more offense than the stat sheet credits him for, making solid outlet passes and even displaying some good stick handling around defenders on the rush.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
Simashev scored zero points in 18 KHL games this season, though that can be partly attributed to a lack of consistent minutes and defensive partners. In 33 MHL (Russia’s top junior league) games, he scored 12 points which is significantly less than would typically be expected of a possible first round pick in that league. However, watching tape from his play in the MHL, it’s not hard to see that Simashev is, more often than not, the best player on the ice at any given moment so I’m not worried just yet.
The point totals aren’t doing him a lot of favors, but he is probably the best defender in the draft class and has shown some real offensive promise. I think Simashev has the highest two-way potential among defensemen in the draft class, with a higher defensive ceiling than Axel Sandin-Pellikka and a higher offensive ceiling than David Reinbacher. However, the uncertainty of him reaching his potential is the biggest thing holding me back from viewing him as a no-doubt top-16 pick.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Dmitri Simashev – NHL Draft Projection
Simashev is a player who I can see surprising people on draft day by being selected well before the end of the first round. Many Russian players in this year’s draft aren’t getting enough credit because they aren’t all that visible and haven’t competed in any major international tournaments, but I don’t think NHL scouts will be fooled by that. Simashev’s size and skating are excellent so I wouldn’t be shocked if he was drafted in the top-20, though it’s probably more likely he goes in the 25-35 range.
“Simashev’s defensive prowess comes from reading the play effectively and using his big, athletic frame to shut down puck carriers. Due to his size, mobility, and reach, Simashev has an advantage in the transition game defending oncoming rushes.” – Nick Richard, Dobber Prospects
“He’s a breakout wizard, great at escaping pressure with the puck, recovering it along the boards and combining his skating and puck protection to evade incoming pressure; he sniffs out contested pucks and turns them into offensive rushes in an instant. “ – Gray Matter, Smaht Scouting
“His game is simple yet effective and he rarely attempts to overstep or over-commit. He’s a smart defenseman as well, doing a good job of staying in great position and recovering well when necessary.” – Jake Janso, FC Hockey
- Defensive instincts
- Outlet passes
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Consistency when carrying the puck
- Offensive production
- Physical game needs to catch up to frame a bit
Simashev has the potential to be a top-four defender in the NHL, most likely due to his excellent defensive skill though I do believe he has more offense to give than he has shown so far this season. He could be a great complementary defender for an offensively gifted partner who needs someone to anchor the pairing and keep the puck out of their own net. He reminds me a bit of Moritz Seider in his draft year as a major riser throughout the draft year with great defense and questionable offense. That has played out well for Seider but we’ll have to be patient to see if Simashev follows suit in a few seasons.
Risk – 1.5/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 6.5/10, Defense – 9/10