Top 10 drafted wingers in Russia

By Alessandro Seren Rosso

If Russia has struggled to produce goalkeepers and blue liners at consistent pace, the same can’t be said for wingers. Even if most of the quality prospects from the new wave of drafted players in the last two or three seasons have already reported to North America, for example Viktor Tikhonov (PHX) or Dmitri Kugryshev (WAS), there is still plenty of talent playing in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Top 10 at a glance

1.    Nikita Filatov
2.    Kirill Petrov
3.    Igor Makarov
4.    Alexander Avtsin
5.    Andrei Popov
6.    Denis Parshin
7.    Sergei Andronov
8.    Maxim Trunev
9.    Nikolai Lemtyugov
10.   Alexander Bumagin

1.    Nikita Filatov (CBJ)

6’0, 185 lbs
Drafted: 1st Round, 6th overall, 2008
May 25, 1990
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow

Filatov keeps on collecting prospect awards and honors in spite of his fallen stock due to his return to the KHL and his poor performances at the WJC. The talented forward couldn’t get a good NHL spot with the Jackets and has been consequently loaned back to Russia, where he did get good ice time and performed well, scoring almost one point a game in a low-scoring league. He finished the season with nine goals and 22 points in 26 games.

Now that coach Ken Hitchcock left the Jackets, it’s almost certain that Filatov will have another shot at the Columbus roster for the 2010-11 season. Considering that this will be his third season in North America, it’s time for him to stop being a great prospect and start driving himself toward being a great player. He has all the tools to do it, but he is yet to show that he really wants it.

2.    Kirill Petrov (NYI)
6’3”, 198 lbs
Drafted: 3rd round, 73rd overall, 2008
April 13, 1990
Currently playing for Neftyanik Almetievsk (Rus-2)

Despite Petrov’s very good performances at the latest WJC, Ak Bars Kazan didn’t give him a roster spot and thus the young winger had to spend the whole season between Ak Bars’ affiliates in Russian High League and the new Russian junior league. The latest two seasons were kind of wasted by Petrov who, at this point, should have left Russia in order to get the ice time that some players of his caliber get in the Canadian junior leagues or in the AHL.

Considering his KHL situation, it’s likely that Petrov will join the Islanders this summer. He is a very talented player with a good size, but he would probably need some seasoning in the AHL to polish up his play.

3.    Igor Makarov (CHI)

6’1”, 203 lbs
Drafted: 2006, 2nd round, 33rd overall
September 19, 1987
Currently playing for Dynamo Moscow

Makarov started the season with SKA St. Petersburg, but halfway through he was traded to Dynamo Moscow for former NHLer Oleg Saprykin. Makarov had a sub-par season this year as he scored only five goals and nine points in 51 regular-season games.

In spite of his bad stats he remains an appealing prospect for the Chicago Blackhawks. His speed and energy would be a welcome addition to the team, the problem is that it’s unclear whether he would accept being sent down to the AHL to polish up his play and to get used to the more demanding North American game. Given that his contract runs out this year, he might get a second shot from his NHL club.

4.    Alexander Avtsin (MTL)
6’2”, 198 lbs
Drafted: 4th round, 109th overall, 2009
March 19, 1991
Currently playing for Dynamo Moscow

Avtsin’s first pro season can be labeled a success, but unfortunately it was truncated because of a hand injury right when he started regularly getting on the score sheet. After refusing a move to the CHL, Avtsin earned a spot in the KHL after a bunch of Russian junior league games. He got three assists and nine points in 30 games before the injury.

The young player has good size and terrific hands, which give him an edge and he was one of the top KHL contributors among junior players. The decision to leave him off the WJC roster caused some noise in Russia, especially after the loss to Switzerland in the tournament’s quarterfinals. This year Avtsin expressed more than once his intention to report as soon as possible to the Montreal Canadiens, and maybe it will happen this year already. He did report to the Habs’ rookie camp last summer.

5.    Andrei Popov (PHI)
6’1”, 200
Drafted: 7th Round, 205th Overall 2006
July 15, 1988
Currently playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk

Popov spent some years under the radar, but this year he raised his game to the next level. He got a spot in the team’s second line and he kept scoring at a very good pace until an injury stopped him midway through the season. The young winger from Chelyabinsk, Russia, scored 15 goals and 26 points this year in 50 games, playing also as center in a line with Canadian players Pierre Degenais and Ramzi Abid.

Popov showed a good scoring touch around the net and good skating abilities. But right now it seems unlikely that he will leave his mother club and report to North America.

6.    Denis Parshin (COL)
5’10”, 170 lbs
Drafted: 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2004
February 1, 1986
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow

Parshin was very close to sign a deal with the Avs this summer, but he was reported to have rejected it because he wanted to be certain to spend time at the NHL level. He can be a successful player in spite of his size, because he has soft hands and a burning speed that would make him very hard to deal with for defensemen. Parshin had a career year this season with 21 goals and 43 points in 56 games in the KHL. He also played in the All-Star game where he won the fastest skater competition.

Unfortunately Parshin doesn’t seem to keen toward a NHL move. He recently declared that he doesn’t intend leave CSKA Moscow. Even if he made these declaration to shut down some rumors that have been spread around Russian media about an eventual move to Dynamo Moscow, this seems to be an indication of what he wants to do of his career. We’ll see if this summer he gets another call from the Avs.

7.    Sergei Andronov (STL)
6’2”, 190 lbs
Drafted: 3rd round, 78th overall, 2009
July 19, 1989
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow

A talented winger, Andronov has been recently traded to CSKA Moscow from Lada Togliatti, because of the financial problems of this team. He is a hard worker and an effective forechecker, even though he needs to gain some consistency. He got good ice time in CSKA under his mentor Sergei Nemchinov and he scored five goals and eight points in 19 games. While with Lada he scored five goals and 14 points in 33 games.

The trade to CSKA is surely a good thing for Andronov as now he can get quality ice time within a good team. He said in the past that he intends to spend another couple of years  in Russia in order to get to a higher level before trying to cross the pond.

8.    Maxim Trunev (MTL)

5’11”, 180 lbs
Drafted: 5th round, 138th overall, 2008
September 07, 1990
Currently playing for Severstal Cherepovets

Trunev’s second KHL season hasn’t been a big improvement as he scored the same number of points in 30 games, five, and got a similar ice time. Trunev is a very quick winger who plays a finesse style. He has some potential as it was evident in the latest WJC, but he kind of failed in showing consistent good play in the KHL. His playing style might also been not that good for the NHL as he mainly tries to make things happen with puck on the blade and it will be hard for him in the more demanding North American environment. But he might get a shot at the Habs’ training camp even if he has no chance of cracking the big club right away.

9.    Nikolai Lemtyugov (STL)
6’0”, 196 lbs
Drafted: 7th round, 219th overall, 2005
January 15, 1986
Currently playing for Ak Bars Kazan

Lemtyugov is another player whose stock fell after he left North America to return to Russia one year ago. Despite two good seasons in the AHL, he never got a chance with the Blues and thus he came back to his Severstal Cherepovets team. In the KHL he had two good seasons and got top line ice time. In January he was traded to KHL champions Ak Bars Kazan for their playoff run. He had 23 points in 39 games for Severstal and no points in four games for Ak Bars.

But, just like Petrov, he didn’t get a consistent spot in Ak Bars’ lineup and thus most likely he will search for options this summer. Will the Blues give him a second chance?

10.    Alexander Bumagin (EDM)

6’0”, 180 lbs
Drafted: 6th round, 170th overall, 2006
Currently playing for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk

Bumagin never played up to his potential. He is a player who can both score and pass, with a very good skating and can even hit, but for some reason he never really had a true impact in the leagues he played in. After spending two seasons with Atlant Mytischi this year he signed with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk, where he got similar ice time and statistics as before — 21 points in 51 games. He has skills and even some physical edge, but it looks like he missed the NHL train.