2022-23 Team: Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk / MHL
Date of Birth: Sep 20, 2004
Place of Birth: Magnitogorsk, Russia
Height: 5-foot-9, Weight: 176 pounds
Position: Right Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: First-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting (EU Skaters): 16th
- Elite Prospects: *Notable Prospect
- TSN (Bob McKenzie): Honorable Mention
- TSN (Craig Button): 34th
- The Hockey Writers (Horn): 53rd
- The Hockey Writers (Baracchini): 71st
- FCHockey: 30th
- Draft Prospects Hockey: 41st
In a different era of the NHL, a prospect like Roman Kantserov would have been overlooked simply due to his size. At 5-foot-9, he doesn’t have the big-bodied power that screams “Draft Me” to general managers. However, with smaller players like Brayden Point taking the league by storm, it’s becoming more common for teams to invest in players with Kantserov’s size.
No matter where he is drafted, the team that takes the ‘risk’ on Kantserov will be selecting one of the top players of the class. While there is little consensus of when he will eventually hear his name called, he has the offensive toolkit to become a playmaking machine in the NHL, regardless of his size.
When he has the puck, Kantserov understands how to utilize any space given to him by the opponent to drive the play. He may not have the best shot in the draft, but he has top-end hockey IQ, which allows him to make the right play often enough that he can drive scoring chances by himself.
During the 2022-23 season, while playing in the MHL (Russia’s Junior Hockey League), Kantersov showcased this skill by posting 27 goals and 54 points in just 45 games played, which put him in the top-five scorers in the league. Also, in three playoff games so far, he posted another three points (and 25 penalty minutes), so he has offense down amongst his peers.
Related: 2023 NHL Draft Guide
While he has yet to prove if he can keep this pace up against men, all Kantserov can do right now is keep scoring against any opponent that is put in front of him. As long as he can do that, I expect more general managers will look his way come draft day.
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Roman Kantserov – NHL Draft Projection
In a different draft year, Kantserov’s potential would make him a sure-fire early second-round pick with the potential to be a mid-to-late first-rounder. However, this is a deep class with a lot of talent at all levels, so it make sense that scouts have him rated anywhere from the 30th overall pick, all the way to 71st or even later in the third round.
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If he were bigger or a centerman, Kantserov would likely garner a lot more attention, but, as has been proven time and time again size doesn’t dictate the future of a player. So, while I doubt a general manager will be willing to take a chance on him in the first round, I would expect him to be off the board by the mid-second round, somewhere around the 50th to 60th pick range.
Kantserov is an undersized forward with tons of skill and energy in his play style… He’s got nifty hands and moves the puck quickly off his stick before getting a hit which is a key trait to have for a small player.Jared Brown – draftprospectshockey.com director of scouting
Kantserov applies pressure well and has a great defensive stick, often sneaking up on opponents and robbing them of possession. He is a player that I believe has more potential than he shows… His game surrounding this playmaking ability already gives him a solid floor as he’s more complete than most other young talents in his cohort.Jake Janso (From September 18th, 2022 Scouting Report of Roman Kantserov, FCHockey, September 18, 2022)
- Great playmaking instincts
- Non-Stop Motor
- High hockey IQ
Under Construction – Improvements to Make
- Lacks high-end scoring potential
Given the era we are in, there’s no reason to believe that Kantserov can’t develop into a nightly starter in the NHL. While I doubt he will be a top-line winger, I could see him slotting in well in a team’s middle six, where he would act as an offensive driver while taking on top powerplay minutes.
The one problem Kantserov will encounter in this scenario is that his game plan and toolkit don’t translate the best to bottom-six minutes. While you can develop his defensive instincts in order to be an ideal third-liner, he simply would be wasted on a fourth-line.
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This means whoever drafts him will need to be patient, and allow him to take on ice time for a few seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) to learn how to play hockey against men, and/or give him some time in the America Hockey League (AHL) as well. This development will be crucial, as it could help him flourish into a top-six winger who understands how to utilize his full toolkit to dominate the game despite his size.
Risk – 3/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense – 8/10, Defense – 6/10