2015-16 Team: Sudbury Wolves (#98)
Date of birth: April 14th, 1998
Place of birth: Omsk, Russia
Ht: 5’11” Wt: 220 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking (February): Unranked
- Bob Mckenzie (TSN): Unranked
- Craig Button (TSN): 68
- HockeyProspect.com: Unranked
Dmitri Sokolov was a very high-profile junior player in Russia, as he dominated almost every level he played in, sometimes even with players older than him. Taken with the 3rd overall pick in the 2015 CHL Import Draft, Sokolov just wrapped up his first season in North America with the Sudbury Wolves. Ranked among the top prospects for 2016 before the season, Sokolov had an up and down season with one of the OHL’s worst teams and his stock has plummeted past the top 60 picks.
While most highly skilled players the same age as Sokolov need to add weight and get stronger, Sokolov already weighs over 200 pounds and he can use his size well on the ice. While Sokolov isn’t one to throw his weight around much, he is difficult to push off the puck due to his stocky frame and uses his size to drive the net against taller players. Despite his impressive size, Sokolov has been criticized in the past for his effort and conditioning levels, which means he could stand to lose some weight off his frame before he turns professional.
Sokolov’s calling card is his offensive abilities, as his powerful stride and impressive offensive instincts show flashes of a potential power forward. He has quick hands and is extremely dangerous below the goal line due to his size and vision, as he can excel dishing the puck to teammates or using his own lethal wrist shot to create scoring chances in the offensive zone. He also shows potential on the power play, as he is strong with the puck on the half wall and uses his shot as a weapon from outside the slot. While he hasn’t shown the same commitment to the defensive side of the game, he has shown the willingness to back check and makes good reads in his own end due to his high hockey IQ.
Sokolov isn’t the top prospect he was expected to be prior to the season, but his offensive abilities and high ceiling make him an intriguing prospect around his current slot in the draft rankings (third round prospect). While his defensive deficiencies and heavy feet could force a move to a wing position, he possesses one of the highest ceilings of any forward prospect outside of the first round. If he can improve his skating ability and conditioning, he could be a diamond in the rough for a team drafting him outside of the top two rounds.
NHL Draft Projection:
Sokolov certainly has the talent to go higher than he’s ranked, but his effort and fitness levels have been questioned by some. With no playoff run to boost his stock, Sokolov should be off the board sometime in the third or fourth rounds. If he can show improved conditioning at the NHL Draft Combine, he could be a candidate for a mid- to late second round pick.
“Physically, Sokolov is a stocky forward who flashes creative, highly skilled no-look passes that are generally unexpected given his bullish stature. He’s not a high-end skater… but he does use changes of pace and direction well. Because he owns such crafty puck skills and thrives in tight quarters, he hasn’t had trouble creating chances with just average skating ability. Sokolov is armed with a downright wicked shot that’s extremely effective due to its quick velocity and a tricky release point.”
Brendan Ross, McKeen’s Hockey
“He is a heavy man with a powerful stride and someone who can lay some crushing checks. Has good speed as he protects the puck and drives to the net hard. Has a real heavy shot. Puck hungry and shows a determination to have it on his stick as he pushes the pace and moves the puck up ice.”
- Offensive awareness
- Puck protection
- Deadly wrist shot
- Strong on the cycle
- Good stickhandling ability
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Endurance and fitness
- Skating speed
- Game-to-game consistency
- Defensive effort
Sokolov has shown the potential to be a future star and was once even considered the next great Russian import, but hasn’t shown that talent on a consistent basis. He’s more likely going to be a good middle six forward who can play with more talented players on occasion.
NHL Player(s) Comparison – Brayden Schenn
Risk = 3/5 Reward = 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 8/10 Defensive = 4/10
- 2014-2015 European Youth Olympic Festival Gold Medal
- 2014-2015 Under 17 World Hockey Championship Gold Medal
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Joseph Aleong is an At-Large writer for THW from Toronto, Ontario. He is a graduate of Brock University in St. Catharines, ON. Follow him on Twitter @josephaleong11