Vladislav Lukashevich – 2021 NHL Draft Profile

Vladislav Lukashevich

2020-21 Team: Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)
Date of Birth: May 23, 2003
Place of Birth: Magadan, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-2 Wt: 167-pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: Defense
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible

Rankings

In 2020, the Columbus Blue Jackets shocked the NHL when they stepped up with the 21st pick and selected Yegor Chinakhov, a 19-year-old playing in the MHL, Russia’s junior league. Everyone was caught off guard; the analysts struggled to make any sort of comment, as none of them had even heard of this prospect before. NHL Central Scouting had ranked him as the 30th best European prospect in 2019 but wasn’t considered much more than a seventh-round pick that year due to his moderate production in a weaker league. However, he broke out in 2019-20, scoring 27 goals and 69 points in 54 games, ranking fifth in the MHL. Now, it appears that the Blue Jackets could have a gem on their hands, as he finished second among all under-20 players in the KHL with 10 goals and 17 points in 32 games.

Yegor Chinakhov Team Russia
Yegor Chinakhov was a huge surprise in the 2020 first roound (Russia Hockey/FHR.RU)

Two reasons that Chinakhov went unnoticed by the NHL are that he was a less physically developed player, weighing in at just 179-pounds, and he played in a lower competition league. Over the past 10 drafts, there have only been three Russians to be selected in the first round that played in Russia but did not play in any KHL games – the others were German Rubtsov, taken by the Philadelphia Flyers 22nd overall in 2016, and Andrei Vasilevsky, who went 19th overall in 2011 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. It’s likely similar to drafting a player out of Junior A or high school in North America; while there are sometimes some sure-fire talents like Cale Makar, it’s far more difficult to accurately predict how they will develop in tougher leagues, and thus many aren’t selected until later despite showing high potential.

Related: 2021 NHL Draft Guide

That brings us to Vladislav Lukoshevich, a 6-foot-2 defender playing for the Yaroslavl junior team in the MHL. This season, he led his team in defensive scoring despite missing time to injury, putting up 19 points in 36 games, as well as led the team in ice time with an average of 17:30 per game, despite being one of the youngest players on the roster. It would have been easy to get buried in the lineup, as Yaroslavl had a very deep team that was pushing for a championship, but Lukashevich made an impression almost every time he stepped on the ice. The effort placed him second among all MHL players, according to Dylan Griffing of EP Rinkside.

Scouts have thus far very little negative to say about the Russian defender. His maturity is far ahead of his peers in the MHL, and he controls the game well from the blueline, knowing exactly where he needs to be and what he needs to do next at all times. He does a lot of the little things right and could be trusted in a variety of situations. It’s no surprise, therefore, that he logged some big minutes for the team, frequently playing upwards of 22 to 23 minutes a night, and was rarely a minus player, finishing the season with a plus-20. He also has a great playmaking side to his game and a pretty decent shot. Despite finishing with just three goals, he had the second-highest shooting percentage of Yaroslavl’s defense with a 5.8% over 52 shots.

There are some concerns that have kept him out of the top group of prospects in the 2021 Draft, however. Lukashevich’s puck control is not as strong as it could be, and it prevents him from pushing the play effectively. He also hasn’t taken the step forward this season as many hoped that he would, and while he’s established himself as a good MHL defenseman, he hasn’t looked dominant to the point that he could push for a KHL roster spot. Finally, he’s very slight, weighing in at 167-pounds, according to the NHL Central Scouting Service, but Elite Prospects has him at just 159-pounds.

Still, many of the concerns scouts have with Lukashevich are similar to those that left Chinakhov off the board last year. There’s no question that the Russian defender has top-level hockey sense and great quickness and speed, and it’s reasonable to assume that if he added a bit more weight, he would be able to handle the bigger, stronger competition in the KHL. However, one big positive Lukashevich has over Chinakhov is his age; the Blue Jackets’ pick was 20 years old when selected, while his 2021 counterpart is barely just 18 with a late May birthday. There aren’t a lot of younger eligible top prospects, giving him more time to develop than most.

Everyone will be watching to see if there’s another Chinakhov moment at the 2021 NHL Draft, and several names have already been proposed, but keep an eye out for Lukashevich. His skillset and potential could prompt a team with a limited number of picks, like the Colorado Avalanche, who only have a first, a third, and a seventh, to grab a player they really like. And there’s a lot to like about this slick Russian defender.

Other THW Draft Profiles:

Vladislav Lukashevich – NHL Draft Projection

Despite the similarities to Chinakhov, Lukashevich has been ranked in the 40-60 range throughout most of the 2020-21 season and thus most likely projects to be a solid second-round choice come draft day. He has the height that many scouts still look for, so he won’t fall too far, although some may be hesitant when considering his slight frame. Still, he has a lot of the skills that teams are looking for, especially in a defender, which will make him a tough player to pass on too many times.

Quotables

“Lukashevich’s athletic tools stand out immediately and draw NHL teams to him as a prospect. He’s 6-foot-2 and a strong skater, with good speed and flashes of high-end skating with his edgework. He shows instances of NHL-quality skill and playmaking. He wasn’t a top scorer as a junior, but was on a stacked team and did get a lot of responsibility on that club. Lukashevich’s offense will likely come from a good first pass and rushing pucks up as opposed to being an NHL power-play type. Defensively he’s fine but not amazing. You figure with his size, feet and not being soft he’ll progress more in that area over time. A late injury ended his season and prevented him from going to the U18 worlds. In a sentence, Lukashevich projects as a steady third-pair defenseman who can chip in some offense.” Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from ‘Top 151 Prospects for 2021 NHL Draft: Owen Power leads Corey Pronman’s final rankings’, The Athletic – 15/6/21)

“Lukashevich is right there with [Artyom] Grushnikov for the title of best MHL defender in the 2021 NHL Draft- it is honestly a coin toss at the moment, as, while Grushnikov is a bit more polished, Lukashevich displays more willingness to create offensively (while still being a strong defender). His skating is a little behind where Grushnikov’s is at the moment, but that is mostly in terms of strength/power, as his edges look good. Offensively, he has a solid shot (mostly a wrister at this point), and can make some really nice long-distance passes.” Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

“A tall, smooth-skater with a good first pass, Lukashevich has the profile of a defender who can produce offense from the blueline. He was a bit buried on a stacked Yaroslavl team in the MHL so his stats aren’t overly impressive but he has impressive tools.” Oilers Nation

Strengths

  • Skating
  • Speed and quickness
  • Defensive awareness and gap control

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Puck control
  • Physical strength

NHL Potential

There is a lot of risk in taking a player like Lukashevich, especially with a high pick. However, if he pans out, he could be a top-four two-way defender that has the ability to play in almost any situation, somewhat long the likes of Jonas Brodin, Rasmus Ristolainen, or even Miro Heiskanen, albeit with a much lower offensive ceiling. He’ll need to improve his puck skills and add some weight, but the potential is there to be an excellent defender in the NHL.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 5/5, Reward – 3/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 7/10, Defense – 7/10

Awards/Achievements

An injury prevented Lukashevich from joining the Russians at the 2021 U18 World Championship, but he was a member of the gold-medal winning U17 team in 2019-20. He also narrowly missed out on claiming the MHL championship, falling to fellow 2021 draft-eligible Alexander Kisakov and MHK Dynamo Moskva.

Vladislav Lukashevich Statistics

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