Russian Prospects NHL Draft 2002: Anton Babchuk

By Jake Dole

For more information please vitit http://www.russianprospects.com

Talent Analysis:

At 6’5 Anton Babchuk has an imposing frame. Though he has not yet quite filled it in, weighing only 190 pounds, Anton has already developed a nasty physical edge to his game that will only get stronger as he grows. Defensively Anton is a very good, hard hitter, able to deliver hits along the boards or out in open ice. Besides delivering the hits, Anton also effectively uses his large frame to block shots. He plays a strong positional game, able to keep the opponents in front of him. For a guy his stature, he is a solid skater with good speed and above average lateral movement, but still has room to improve in the skating department. According to a Czechhockey observer, Robert Neuhauser, Anton is a “smart player and is willing to join the rush” and “has a very good offensive upside”. He is also a very effective powerplay quaterback, being a solid puck handler and being able to pass the puck “right on the tape” according to Mr. Neuhauser. Anton does have to improve his shooting. He has a powerful shot, but it is not very accurate. Mentally Anton Babchuk has a great hockey sense and plays a physical and “simple” style of hockey.

Back In Russia:

Anton Babchuk began his career with Sokol Kiev, but soon moved to Elektrostal, Russia. There he spent the 1999-00 season with Kristal’s jr farm team, Kristal 2. During the 2000-01 season he was promoted for seven games to Electrostal’s Upper Level team, Elemash, where he recorded no points but made his presence felt with 12 penalty minutes. During the 2000-01 season, Anton also helped Kristal 2 win the Russian tournament amongst junior teams (1984 DOB), which was held in Novokuznetsk, Russia.

International Competition:

Anton has been a member of the 1984 DOB Russian National team since the 99-00 season. His first competition was on the national level where he represented that Central region in a Russian Regional tournament. There he played 5 games, showing off his physical play with 18 PIM. Anton’s international debut came in 2001 at an International Tournament for players born in 1984. There he played five games, adding to assists to his solid defensive play. At the Four Nations Tournament in Finland that same year, Anton scored his first goal and delivered a solid +4 performance. Though he did not get much ice time, Anton Babchuk was a member of the Russian gold medal winning 2001 U18 World Junior Championships squad. His best effort thus far has been at the Five Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic, where in five games he scored 4 points (1+3), while ammassing 22 penalty minutes and a solid +10 rating. He also was one of Russia’s leading players and the team’s best defenseman at the 2001 World Junior Cup held in August. There he played a very physical game and delivered the best check of the tournament in the final against Canada. Anton will be a full fledged member of Russia’s U18 National squad during the 2000-01 season and will likely play on the top defensive pairing.

NHL:

Anton Babchuk is eligible for the 2002 NHL Entry Draft and is expected to go early in the first round. Anton is one of the top defensemen in the draft and this year should solidify his lock on being a top 5 pick. Anton attended the UPMC hockey training program near Pittsburgh in the US, getting exposure to North American culture and style of hockey. His physical and offensive minded brand of hockey will carry over well to the NHL. According to Robert Neuhauser, Anton “can be a top 5 selection and is a lock to play in the NHL someday. I think that Anton’s time will come in 2004-2005”. Anton’s hero is Chris Pronger, and with his size and offensive talent, it is not far fetched to forsee a similar future for him.

Eugene Belashchenko

http://www.russianprospects.com