2020-21 Team: Russkie Vityazi Chekhov / MHL
Date of Birth: Feb. 14th, 2003
Place of Birth: Korkino, Russia
Ht: 6-foot-3 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
For Russian defensive prospect Yaroslav Busygin, his near future appeared to be all set after he was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the 2020 CHL Import Draft and subsequently signed to play with the team for the 2020-21 season. However, due to travel restrictions and general uncertainty around the world, Busygin was unable to make a start for the Wheat Kings. Instead, he was loaned back to his MHL club in Russia, the Russkie Vityazi Checkhov, to start for the second-straight season.
In this role, Busygin played a strong game on the blueline, laying down a barrage of hits on his opponents while chipping in 2 goals and 11 points in 31 games. This was a significant scoring increase over his five points in 25 games in 2019-20, which may be a sign that he can develop an offensive aspect to his game. Even if he just remains a defensive-first defenseman who lays down bruising hits and is steady in his own zone, that is still highly appealing at the draft.
For now, the future is still uncertain for the Russian defenseman. He could stay with Russkie Vityazi Checkhov for the near future, or he may attempt to make the trip to North America for the 2021-22 season to play for Brandon, in hopes of familiarizing himself with a different country and preparing to take on a role in the AHL/NHL.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Yaroslav Busygin – NHL Draft Projection
When you look at what Busygin could bring to a franchise, there is a lot to like. He has an NHL frame, is incredibly tough and he will lay down the body on anyone he can find on the ice.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
This all makes him an appealing prospect, and one that general managers won’t let fall too far down the draft board. Given his potential upside, I could see him being selected somewhere in the mid-fourth round at the earliest, but no later than the late fifth-round.
“He’s a really steady, reliable player who plays the left side, and for a young guy to play the left side, we thought that was a real good asset to add to our team.”Brandon Wheat Kings general manager Darren Ritchie (From Wheat Kings grab Russian defenceman Busygin in import draft, The Brandon Sun, Jul. 2, 2020)
“He’s an assertive, territorial defender, who plays on his toes and isn’t afraid to step up to make a play in all three zones… Plays with a great pace and is ready to help rescue plays or make desperation attempts if his team’s defensive coverage breaks down.”Derek Neumeier (From Yaroslav Busygin Game Report, FCHockey, Feb. 6, 2021)
- Big, powerful hitter
- Plays opponents hard and can grind out games
- Understands how to play a defensive game to put himself in the right position on the ice
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Busygin’s offensive ceiling will be hindered by his average skating and puck control. He needs to improve his ability with the puck on his stick if he hopes to continue developing as an NHL prospect.
If you are a believer in size, hitting, and defensive ability, then there’s no reason to believe that Busygin can’t make it to the NHL. He fits the model of a defensive-first defenseman perfectly, and if he can round out aspects of his game, he could easily be a bottom-pairing defenseman in the league.
If he is able to continue growing his toolkit, however, he could be more than that. He has the potential to become a top-four minute muncher who takes on meaningful time on the penalty kill. He still has a long way to go before he reaches that point in his development, but if he is given the right opportunities, he could blossom in the coming years.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
There’s no general manager in the NHL who wouldn’t want Busygin in their prospect pool. He is a relatively low-risk choice in the middle to late rounds of the draft who could have a big impact on a franchise. Even if he doesn’t reach his full potential, he still should be a starting option for the team that selects him.
Yaroslav Busygin Statistics
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.