The Toronto Maple Leafs have called up 22-year-old Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, who made his NHL debut against the Dallas Stars on Dec. 6. He has become general manager Kyle Dubas’ sixth draftee from the 2018 NHL Draft to make the NHL and play at least one game. So far, he has shown that he can be productive at almost a point per game in the American Hockey League (AHL). During his time in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), he was third in assists among forwards, up there with some high-end prospects. Here’s a look at his hockey journey and see how he has been throughout his young career thus far.
Der-Arguchintsev’s Junior Career
Der-Arguchintsev was selected by the Peterborough Petes in the second round of the 2016 OHL Priority Draft. He was drafted out of Russia, where he played his minor hockey. While playing for the Petes, he found success with future AHL and NHL teammate Nick Robertson. His career-high in points was 75 (12 goals and 63 assists), playing alongside Robertson during the 2019-20 season. The star-studded Petes were one of the strongest contenders coming out of the East, a team that included Der-Arguchintsev, Robertson, Mason McTavish, Liam Kirk, and goaltender Hunter Jones. That season, they also acquired Akil Thomas at the deadline in hopes of having a deep playoff run and a Memorial Cup victory.
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Unfortunately, the 2019-20 OHL season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On March 18, the AHL announced the cancellation of the season after just 61 games. For Der-Arguchintsev, that meant the end of his junior career in a season that gave him and his team the best chance to win an OHL Championship and the Memorial Cup. His focus then shifted to the team that drafted him with the 76th pick in the third round; the Maple Leafs. He signed an entry-level contract that same year, and because of that, he reported to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL.
The American Hockey League
The COVID-19 pandemic was tough on Der-Arguchintsev, with a shortened final year in junior, and then his first AHL season was delayed. This forced him to be loaned to the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) until he was able to return to the AHL. In the KHL, he scored two goals and four assists in 17 games. On Feb. 5, 2021, the AHL got started, and his first season with the Marlies was just six games; he recorded four assists in those six games.
In his second season with the Marlies, he played 51 of 72 games. He and Robertson were reunited to help lead the Marlies to a postseason berth, but they fell short. Still, Der-Arguchintsev had a more productive season, recording 13 goals and 32 points. Now in his third season in the AHL, he has played himself into an opportunity to be called up to the Maple Leafs.
This season, he has 18 points in 20 games and was the second-line centre alongside a few different wingers. He saw time with Alex Steeves, Nick Abruzzese, and Adam Gaudette and has displayed chemistry with all three of them. Due to his recent play in the minors and an injury to Calle Jarnkrok, he was given his chance to join the Maple Leafs and get into his first game.
Der-Arguchinstev’s NHL Debut
If every young hockey player dreams of playing in the NHL, for Der-Arguchintsev, his dream has come true. After a strong start to the season with the Marlies, he was called up to join the Maple Leafs on their road trip to Dallas and played his first NHL game. Although he wasn’t on the same line as Robertson, they still shared this unforgettable moment.
In his NHL debut, Der-Arguchintsev played just 7:16, slotting in on the fourth line alongside Pontus Holmberg and Zach Aston-Reese. His stat line was fairly empty; he didn’t record a shot or a point but did end the game as a plus-1.
Overall, Der-Arguchintsev has the potential to be an everyday player in the NHL. Unfortunately, this stint in the NHL won’t last forever. He will be sent back to the Marlies when the injured Maple Leafs return. Right now, the best thing for him is to soak up all the knowledge he can from some of the best players in the league, as well as some journeymen and grizzled vets who all can pass on their experience and advice. He must should really take advantage of this opportunity.
Spencer Lazary is a writer at The Hockey Writers covering the Toronto Maple Leafs. He loves to talk about all things Maple Leafs as well as scouting and prospects, he has been writing about Hockey and Prospect Scouting since 2020, and he also is a co-host of a Maple Leafs-themed podcast called “Leafs Talk Forever“