Vladislav Evseev – What They Don’t Know Can Hurt

By Eugene Belashchenko






Vladislav Evseev – What They Don’t Know Can Hurt

 

If
a year ago you asked who was the top Russian born prospect eligible for the 2002
NHL Entry Draft, you would have gotten the same answer from most scouts –

Vladislav Evseev
. The scouts raved about Vladislav’s size and talent, many
saying he was a sure top five pick and had the potential of being the top pick
in 2002. A year later, Vladislav’s name was nowhere to be found not only in the
top five, but not at all in the first round of the draft. Boston Bruins finally
called his name, making Evseev their second pick, 50th overall. While 50th
overall is nothing to joke about, Vladislav’s stock fell significantly in the
rankings over the year preceding the draft, and it happened mostly for the wrong
reasons. Vladislav Evseev’s drop in the rankings occurred not because of the
lack of potential, but instead largely due to his lack of exposure because of a
recurring shoulder injury that forced him to sit out most of the season. The
following article recounts the highs and lows of Vladislav Evseev’s career thus
far.

 

Vladislav Evseev’s hockey career began
in Spartak Moscow’s system when he was six years old. After spending five
seasons with Spartak, Vladislav transferred to Dynamo Moscow. He then spent six
seasons playing in Dynamo Moscow’s system. During that time, Vladislav became a
member of the ’84 Russian national team. It did not happen right away. In fact,
before becoming one of the team’s leaders, Vladislav was not amongst the 40-50
players initially invited to the team’s first training camp in the fall of 1999.
Vladislav took some offense to this turn of events, and after working hard for a
few months, he was invited to join Russia’s ’83 squad lead by one of Russia’s
best coach’s Vladimir Plyuschev. He played with the team at the Canada World
Challenge Cup in December of 1999 and at the Four Nations Tournament in February
of 2000. In a way it may have been better that he did not make the ’84 team
right away. Until Ravil Iskhakov took over the team at the beginning of the
2000-01 season, the Russian squad was in disarray, performing poorly at most
tournaments, going through two head coach changes in just a single season.

 

Towards the conclusion of the 1999-00
season, Vladislav finally received an invitation to join the ’84 squad. Soon
after the team finally saw some stability under yet another head coach, Ravil
Iskhakov. Vladislav possessed a solid working relationship with Iskhakov and
earned a lot of ice time on the team’s top line. Vladislav played a solid two
way game. He played responsibly on defense, and often dominated in the offensive
end of the ice. Vladislav skated well, using the whole ice surface to his
advantage. He also had a rough edge to his game, not hesitating to lay down a
hit, move through traffic or even get into an occasional fight. For all these
traits, he proudly wore the ‘A’ on his jersey as Russia’s alternate captain
throughout the 1999-00 and 2000-01 seasons.

 

After the successful 2000-01 season,
Vladislav received a contract offer from the Upper League’s HC CSKA for the
2001-02 season. Dynamo Moscow depth on the wing made it unlikely that Vladislav
would see any ice time with the Super League team, while HC CSKA was
guaranteeing him a one way contract. After some deliberation he politely parted
ways with Dynamo Moscow and joined HC CSKA. At the beginning of the season it
became clear that Vladislav’s strong personality would inevitably clash with
that of Viktor Tikhonov, who was famous for breaking and molding great Soviet
players. Vladislav spent the first couple of months playing on CSKA’s third and
fourth lines. He played well with CSKA, considering his age and level of
experience. Vladislav remained in CSKA’s lineup until Tikhonov sent him to the
team’s junior farm team, CSKA 2. The demotion heightened the tension in the
already rocky relationship between himself and CSKA’s management. The tensions
boiled over when CSKA’s management accused him of skipping a game, while
Vladislav was under the impression that he was still demoted to CSKA 2.
Vladislav did not speak to CSKA’s assistant coach in the polite and reserved
manner expected from a young player and the harsh exchange increased the rift
between him and the team to a new height.

 

Likely due to the unfortunate verbal
exchange, Vladislav’s ice time diminished, and it appeared that international
competition remained the only median where he could showcase himself to the NHL
scouts. He played well at the August’s 2002 Five Nations Tournament in the Czech
Republic and his rating among the scouts remained high. However, in January of
2002, while practicing with CSKA, Vladislav suffered an injury that sent his
season spiraling out of control. During one of the practices, Vladislav
awkwardly hit the boards and dislocated his shoulder. CSKA’s doctors did not
deem surgery necessary to repair the injury, and instructed Vladislav to rest
for a couple of weeks. Vladislav did so and after staying off the ice for a
couple of weeks he began to practice again and joined the ’84 Russian national
team in time for the Five Nations Tournament held in Tyumen, Russia.

 

In Tyumen, Vladislav appeared to be in
good health and played well in the pre-tournament training camp. However, a
couple of days before the tournament he dislocated his shoulder once more, this
time during a friendly game when his hand got caught up in a falling player’s
jersey. It appears that the CSKA team doctor’s diagnosis of the original
injury’s severity was incorrect and Vladislav needed surgery to repair his
compromised shoulder socket. However, after being sent back to Moscow, Vladislav
refused surgery, hoping the shoulder would heal and he could salvage the season
by competing at the U18 World Junior Championships in April.

 

An unfortunate side effect of
Vladislav’s injury was the final collapse of his relationship with HC CSKA
Moscow. According to Vladislav, CSKA showed no concern for his injury after his
return from Tyumen. He did not hear from the team for over two we
eks. Due to the
lack of concern he approached the team to annul his contract and under a mutual
agreement, Vladislav’s relationship with CSKA was at an end. He then joined his
old team, Dynamo Moscow, whose coach, Zinatula Belyaletdinov welcomed him back
and advised him to elect shoulder surgery, so he could be completely prepared
for the 2002-03 season. Thus, Vladislav gave up on the remainder of the 2001-02
season and had surgery in Moscow on April 17th at the Chutovo hospital, where it
was performed by shoulder expert Dr. Arkhipov, who operated on numerous players,
including New York Islanders prospect Vladimir Gorbunov. The doctor deemed the
shoulder surgery a success and Vladislav began skating in late August, 2002 and
practicing with the team in mid September.

 

With his shoulder vows hopefully behind
him, Vladislav will likely earn a spot in Dynamo’s lineup after the October
Super League transfer period when the teams are allowed to make roster changes.
He has a lot left to prove, but it is more then likely that he was worth a lot
more then the 56th pick used by Boston to draft him. It is surprising that so
many teams shied away from Vladislav after he missed much of the season
preceding the draft due to a serious, but relatively routine injury, considering
that Atlanta Thrashers drafted Patric Stefan 1st overall in 1999 knowing of his
history of concussions and Buffalo drafted Artem Kryukov 15th overall in 2000
after he nearly died on the ice due to a severe concussion less then a year
earlier. Granted, Vladislav missed a lot of the 2001-02 season and was unable to
participate in the pre-draft fitness tests, he still holds the potential of a
first round caliber prospect and Boston likely got away with a highway robbery.

– Eugene Belashchenko

– RussianProspects.com