After having just eight players selected in 2013, NHL teams gave some attention to Russian players at the 2014 NHL Draft. In all, 13 Russian players were selected, the highest number since the 2006 draft class that included current NHL players Semyon Varlamov, Nikolai Kulemin, and Artem Anisimov. Six of this year’s draftees are already playing in North America, while seven spent the 2013-14 season in Russia.
As in any draft year, there were some players who did not get the expected attention. Regarding the Russian players competing in the CHL, the main surprise was Moncton Wildcats’ forward Vladimir Tkachev being passed over, most likely due to his smaller stature. Among players playing in Russia, it would not have been too much of a surprise to hear the names of Alexander Sharov or Vladislav Gavrikov being called somewhere in the middle rounds, but they were ultimately passed over.
Here is the breakdown of players chosen out of Russia during the 2014 NHL Draft.
Vladislav Kamenev, C – Metallurg Magnitogorsk
Drafted 42nd overall by the Nashville Predators
A few years after drafting Alexander Radulov and Denis Kulyash, the Predators got back to drafting a Russian player, and quite high in the draft. It was no surprise that Kamenev was the first player picked from Russia since he has been very high in the rankings all year long and had a good U18 World Championship tournament, serving as Team Russia captain. Kamenev is a player who can play both at center and on the wing, although playing as a center may allow him to showcase his skills on a higher level. He showed good skating, soft hands, and a good use of his body. Kamenev is said to be very interested in playing in North America, but his contract obligation will most likely keep him in Russia for the next couple of seasons. This shouldn’t hurt his development, especially since he’ll spend the 2014-15 campaign under the management of Mike Keenan with the KHL’s reigning champions, Metallurg Magnitogorsk.
Nikita Tryamkin, D – Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg
Drafted 66th overall by the Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks decided to spend a relatively high pick on a player passed up twice, so this could be considered a surprise pick even if Nikita Tryamkin definitely gained some good attention during the most recent WJC. Gifted with an NHL body, Tryamkin is a big defenseman with an excellent shot from the point who needs to improve his positional play and general defensive awareness. To become a successful player at the NHL level, Tryamkin needs to develop into a more physical player who throws the body more often, and to use his big frame more to his advantage. He remains a good project defender for the Canucks, but he already announced that he intends to honor his contract with Avtomobilist Ekaterinburg, which will run out in April 2016.
Ilya Sorokin, G – Metallurg Novokuznetsk
Drafted 78th overall by the New York Islanders
The first of three goalies drafted from Russia – the most since 1999 – Sorokin had a very solid season playing for one of the worst teams in the KHL, along the lines of what had been accomplished some years ago by Sergei Bobrovsky. Due to lack of exposure, Sorokin was overlooked last year, but this spring the Islanders didn’t want to miss the chance to draft a very promising goalie with some good pro experience. Sorokin is an athletic goalie with good technique, but lacks in size and should bulk up and learn to deal with the added traffic in front of the crease in the North American game. At this point, it’s hard to guess when Sorokin will cross the ocean, but he’s under contract in the KHL until 2017.
Igor Shestyorkin, G – SKA St. Petersburg
Drafted 118th overall by the New York Rangers
Shestyorkin had a good season in the KHL with Spartak Moscow, but after the team folded, he signed with SKA St. Petersburg for two years, making it unlikely that he’ll become a Ranger before his contract runs out. But this isn’t necessarily bad news since Shestyorkin still needs to improve and his SKA coach has already declared that he’s still too raw to play in the KHL on a top team. He definitely needs some seasoning in Russia, but the Rangers secured the rights to a good goalie who likes to challenge forwards, is very athletic and can develop into a solid starter if everything goes well with his development.
Pavel Kraskovsky, C – Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
Drafted 164th overall by the Winnipeg Jets
Kraskovsky is a very interesting prospect with good size and good defensive awareness, something a bit unusual for Russian players. He had a solid but unspectacular U18 tournament this spring, a showing that may have played a role in the Jets’ decision to choose Kraskovsky. Eligible for the 2014 draft by just four days, it can be said that his selection was a bit of a surprise, with some more highly-touted players being overlooked. Kraskovsky is under contract with Lokomotiv for another couple of seasons.
Ivan Nalimov, G – Admiral Vladivostok
Drafted 179th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks
A goalie with imposing size and good agility, Nalimov was a free agent after his contract with SKA St. Petersburg ran out in April, but he has just signed a two-year KHL deal with Admiral Vladivostok . The native of Novokuznetsk, Russia has never hidden his willingness to cross the Atlantic to play in North America, but it will now be a couple of years before he makes that move. Nalimov was most likely drafted by the Blackhawks on the basis of his excellent performances at the 2013 Subway Super Series, performances which, unfortunately for Team Russia, he did not manage to repeat at the WJC, where he was average serving as Andrei Vasilevsky‘s (TBL) backup. However, at 6’4” and 215 pounds, Nalimov has very good size and may develop into an NHL goalie, but he will definitely need some seasoning in the minors.
Alexander Kadeykin, C – Atlant Mytischi
Drafted 179th overall by the Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings traditionally are not scared to draft in Europe and they may have gotten yet another European steal in Alexander Kadeykin. He had an excellent season in the KHL for Atlant Mytischi with 23 points in 45 games, finishing the regular season as his team’s top scorer, quite a feat for a 20-year-old player. It should be added that he finished the season with a +17 rating playing on a team that was never a threat to make the playoffs. Kadeykin has excellent size at 6’4” and 215 pounds, but needs to use it more often, even if he can protect the puck effectively and deliver excellent passes all over the offensive zone. A pass-first player like many Russian centers, Kadeykin will turn 21 next October, making it likely that he’ll decide to cross the Atlantic once his contract with Atlant runs out in April of 2015. It will be interesting to see if he’ll manage to repeat the success he had last season in the KHL.
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