2015-16 Team: Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Date of birth: February 02nd, 1998
Place of birth: Ekaterinburg, Russia
Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 214 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 1st year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking (June): 75
- THW War Room Rankings: 87
- Hockey Prospect: 101
- ISS: 99
- Future Consideration: 86
- McKeen’s: 127
- Hockey Prospectus: 70
After an average season in Russia in the MHL, Vladimir Kuznetsov’s name caught up as a bit of a surprise when he was the first overall pick at the 2015 CHL Import Draft. While there were more talented players available, like Mikhail Sergachev, Vitali Abramov, or Alexander Nylander, the Titan enjoyed the selection of a very good player who had a good contribute to the team. Kuznetsov had a good rookie season in North America, and with his good play he earned a call to Team Russia at the U18 WJC and was invited to the Draft Combine.
Before moving to North America, Kuznetsov played pretty much his whole career in his home town Ekaterinburg. He started playing at the local “Yunost” academy (which produced NHL superstar Pavel Datsyuk), then moved to the Avtomobilist system, even if he didn’t play at KHL level. He joined some other Russian teams for some single tournaments, but he always represented Ekaterinburg teams during regular championship games. A regular member of Team Russia for his age group, Kuznetsov didn’t had a huge impact on the team at the U18s based on stats, (only three assists in five games), but his size and attitude were very useful for the team.
NHL Draft Projection:
While many agencies left him out of the top 100, Kuznetsov had good chances to get drafted, considering his skills and size. He is most likely to be a bottom pick, but it’s not to be excluded that NHL teams would prefer to check his progress next year.
Kuznetsov is a pretty skilled, but subdued player. He is efficient with his energy, only getting on his horse when he feels pressure or sees a potential break. He has good puck control on the rush and has a big, strong body and an ability to use it to overpower opponents and protect the puck. Kuznetsov is a solid skater who has a very strong stride; it takes him a few long strides to get moving, but he looks like a bull on skates once he gets some speed behind him.
Kuznetsov is a strong player with a big presence on the ice. He has good positioning and a clean pass. His skating is average, and he often appears lumbering and slow. At times he seems disconnected form the play, but when he’s engaged, he’s hard to physically contain because of his size. He’s certainly hard to push off the puck, and when he parks himself in front of the net, defenseman have to use positioning to take him out of the play because he won’t be moved.
Big, strong and finding his stride in the Q after a bit of a slow start. Power forward that could be a force next season. Loves to go to the net hard.
Ryan Wagman, Hockey Prospectus
- Good hands
- Lots of energy
- Valuable in front of the net
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Not the fastest skater
- Shift-to-shift consistency
Vladimir Kuznetsov has the size and the skill set to become a utility forward in the NHL who can play in all situation thanks to his vision and strength.
Risk = 3.5/5 Reward = 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive = 6.5/10 Defensive = 6.5/10
- 2015 CHL Import Draft first Overall Pick
Even if they share the same surname, Vladimir Kuznetsov and Washington Capitals star Evgeny Kuznetsov are not related. Kuznetsov is simply a very common surname in Russia, according to Wikipedia, the third most common in the country.
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph