Timofei Shishkanov: Potential Super Star Without a Guide

By Eugene Belashchenko

Nashville Predators 2nd pick in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft (33rd Overall).

Talent Analysis:

Timofei Shishkanov’s 6’1 and 203lb frame is definitely more then sufficient for the rigors of the NHL. He is a very talented player. Timofei is an excellent skater, able to blow by his opponents with great moves and fast speed. He also possesses a solid shot, though he rarely uses it and does not really have a trademark shot that he is known for. Timofei Shishkanov is also a very good puck handler, able to work it in both zones of the ice.  

According to a Finnish observer from the U18 2001 World Junior Championships, Timofei had a comprable skill set to that of Kovalchuk, but “the difference between Kovalchuk and Shishkanov is the hunger, Kovalchuk wants all the time desperately [to] score goals, but Shishkanov sometimes floats around.” The observer added further that Kovalchuk shot the puck a lot more then Shishkanov, while Shishkanov seemed “meaner, more unpredictable and stronger then Kovalchuk”. The main area where Shishkanov loses to players of Kovlachuk’s class is in his hockey sense. He still has not developed that knack for making split second decisions on the ice that players of Kovalchuk’s caliber possess.  


Addressing the information provided by the Hockey News Pre Draft Special Issue regarding Shishkanov’s less the adequate level of play with the Spartak Jr. squad: “The other Timofei is the guy who displayed a complete lack of character when playing for Spartak’s junior team.” A European scout also added to Hockey News that “If you saw him on Spartak’s second team…he doesn’t work. He doesn’t try.” Such negative comments by this European scout maybe very well justified. However, a couple of different factors need to be considered before taking these comments and passing a verdict on Timofei. First of all, Timofei plays on 3 different teams in Spartak’s system every week. He plays on the 1984 junior team, the Spartak 2 team and practices with Spartak’s main team. According to Timofei himself, “if our junior team plays against an especially weak opponent, then I don’t play in those matches”. Timofei plays 3 games a week with the 2 junior teams and stays with the main team for the practices. Considering all this, it would not be surprising if Timofei left it all on the ice while practicing with the senior team or playing in important games. Again, this is an offering of a different explanation for the negative comments regarding Shishkanov’s play with Spartak, it is not a definite explanation.  

Back In Russia:

Timofei Shishkanov was born in Moscow and has been in the Spartak Moscow organization since he was 6. He did not start playing hockey by accident, his father was also a hockey player and chose this sport for his son, though a few years later Timofei himself fell in love with the sport. Timofei’s first successful season with Spartak Moscow’s farm team Spartak 2 was during the 1999-00 season. There he scored 11 points (6+5) in 14 games and spent 14 games with Spartak’s main team. Towards the end of the 1999-00 season, in March, Timofei severely bruised one of his kidneys during a game against CSKA Jr. when he was checked hard from behind into the boards. He spent a week in a hospital and then another couple of weeks rehabilitating. After coming back from that ordeal he suffered a minor injury to his shoulder. The 2000-01 season did not start off any better for Timofei as prior to the start of the season he broke a finger and pulled a leg muscle, causing him to lose his chance of earning a sport in the main lineup of Spartak, though he was invited to the training camp. Timofei never seemed to completely recover from the bad luck and the subsequent demotion and did not have a solid season with Spartak’s junior teams. He did however still log 13 games with Sparatk’s main team during the regular season, earning a +1 rating and 2PIM.  

International Competition:

Though Timofei Shishkanov did not have a serious shot at making Spartak’s roster after it was solidified and the team was on the way to earning a berth in the Super League, he did show himself quite well in the International arena’s spotlight during the 2000-01 season. Timofei represented Russia at the 2 major International 4 nation and 5 nation tournaments for the 1983 player group. There he delivered a respectable performance of 3 points (1+2) in 4 games of one and 2 assists in 3 games of the other tournament, while delivering a cumulative +5 rating. Timofei’s best performance came during the 2001 U18 World Junior Championships. Though his production of 4 points (2+2) and a +7 in 6 games seemed to have been eclipsed by the likes of Kovalchuk and Grigorenkov, Timofei was also the player to watch at the WJC. However, according to an observer at the U18 WJC “the Russian coach didn’t know how to use him”. He had the top quality skills, but the top LW position was already filled by the talented Ilya Kovalchuk. He was double shifted in certain games (when Stanislav Chistov hurt his knee against Germany he replaced him on the Polushin – Trubachev – Chistov line) and hardly got any playing time at all in others and despite all that still was able to deliver a solid performance. During the tournament Timofei did not shoot often, but scored when it counted. The pinnacle of his performance at the Championships was in the game against Switzerland where he scored Russia’s third goal that in our observer was very likely “the game’s turning point” 

NHL:

Timofei Shishkanov was ranked 17th in CSB’s final rankings and 35th overall by the Hockey News. He was also one of the best left wingers in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. However, the biggest concern of many NHL teams were the drawbacks of his mental game that may impede his development into a complete player that he can become. Though he has the talent and the size, he still does not have the mental game together to play up to his abilities. In accordance with his ranking, Timofei was drafted by the Nashville Predators in the second round (33rd overall). The 2001-02 season is critical for Timofei’s development. He now not only has to earn a spot in Spartak’s main lineup, but he also has to compete in the higher level Super League, not the Upper League any more as Spartak ascended out of the Upper League this past season. Another thing he desperately needs now is a coach who will believe in him. He needs someone who will guide him forward, pressure him, but most improtantly trust him and put him on the ice. If he can now put together the will to perform with his talent, he will end up a productive NHLer withing 2-3 years. If he does not, he may still make it into the NHL and play on the 3rd or 4th line but will never be an impact player he has the potential to become. 

Eugene Belashchenko
http://www.russianprospects.com