2022-23 Team: Dinamo-Shinnik Bobruysk (MHL)
Date of Birth: Oct 7, 2004
Place of Birth: Minsk, Belarus
Height: 5-foot-10, Weight: 168 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-Year Eligible
Hockey is a global sport and continues to grow. Smaller hockey nations are producing more and more NHL-calibre talent; at last year’s NHL Draft, Austria saw its second-highest pick, while Slovakia saw its highest selection with the first-overall pick, Juraj Slafkovsky. Much of that is thanks to the increased competition at international tournaments, such as the U20 World Juniors and U18 Hlinka Gretzky Tournament.
For Ivan Anoshko, it was the 2021 U18 World Junior Championship. At just 16 years old, he was the youngest player on Belarus’s U18 World Junior Championship roster in 2021, but he certainly didn’t look it. In five games, he scored a goal and two assists to finish eighth in team scoring and helped the team reach their second-best finish in tournament history.
The following season, Anoshko made his debut in Belarus’ top league and finished first among all U18 players that season with five goals and 11 points, plus another goal and an assist at the Belarus Cup. He was invited to the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival, where he helped Belarus claim the nation’s third silver medal at the tournament. That all led to 2022-23, when he was named the Russian Junior Hockey League (MHL) Rookie of the Year after putting up 21 goals and 53 points in 53 games. He was also named Rookie of the Month in September, November, and February, the most individual wins of any player this season.
Most of Anoshko’s skills are fairly average when comparing him to the rest of his draft class. He’s a fine puck carrier, can skate reasonably well and move around the ice quickly, and can chip in defensively. But what makes him stand out is his determination and work ethic. He frequently sets himself up on a goalie’s left side, which works better with his left-handed shot, and will wait for the puck to come to him. He has a quick release, and if the puck hits his stick, it almost definitely will be in the back of the net. Many of his goals aren’t pretty, but they don’t have to count on the score sheet.
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Anoshko’s penchant for setting himself up on the left side also helps him pick up rebounds not intended for him and get into the corner to retrieve a loose puck, showing an above-average awareness for setting up plays and anticipating how they will develop. He knows that there’s always a chance that a puck will bounce after a save, and someone has to be there to pick it up. He’s the perfect net-front player; there may not be a lot of flash to his game, but he sure is effective.
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Ivan Anoshko – NHL Draft Projection
Anoshko could expect to be selected somewhere in the third or fourth rounds in any other year. In his draft year, he had similar production in the MHL to 2021 second-round pick Alexander Kisakov, although the latter appeared in four KHL games. However, with the sanctions against Russia and Belarus, it’s expected that players based in those nations will fall significantly from their projection. Elite prospects like Matvei Michkov shouldn’t see too much of a drop, but riskier picks like Anoshko may go in the sixth or seventh rounds, if at all.
“Another in what has become a bit of a line of Belarusian kids with NHL Draft prospects, Anoshko got onto scouts’ radars way back at the 2021 pandemic U18 Worlds in Texas when he played well as a 16-year-old. Since, he has played professional games in Belarus and, this year, played to a point per game in the MHL. He’s a talented and confident player who looks to make plays when he’s got the puck and wants to involve himself in the play and hunt it when he doesn’t. He’s on the older side of the draft as an October ’04 who was three weeks away from being eligible for 2022, and there are geopolitical considerations (including, at the moment, a ban on Belarusians in the CHL which prevents him from import draft consideration) at play as well.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic (from “The 2023 NHL Draft prospects who missed Scott Wheeler’s final top 100 ranking” The Athletic – 09/06/2023)
“He’s a quick and highly-skilled center. He creates well off the rush, has good O-zone playmaking ability, and despite not being the biggest forward, he doesn’t shy from going to the net. He doesn’t get pushed around in the physical aspects of the game either. The debate on him is despite being talented is whether he’s dynamic enough at his size to be an NHL player.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from “2023 NHL Draft ranking: Connor Bedard leads Corey Pronman’s tiers of the top 142 prospects” The Athletic – 30/05/2023)
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
Some aspects of Anoshko’s game are reminiscent of Zach Parise and Brad Marchand, as both are smaller forwards who thrive in front of the net and have built their games on hard work and excellent awareness. However, both those players are wingers in the NHL, meaning that Anoshko likely will have to transition to either side to find a place in North America. Right now, he doesn’t look like he has the same offensive potential and is destined to be a solid bottom-six contributor and energy line player. But that was also the thought around Marchand after getting selected in the third round of the 2006 draft. Now, he’s one of the biggest antagonists in the league and has five seasons where he’s scored 80 or more points.
Risk – 5/5, Reward – 3/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 6.5/10, Defense – 6/10