Russia’s third round at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft

By Eugene Belashchenko


The rest of the Russians come in line to finish
the day

The third round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft plucked most of the players from the
former Soviet Republics who were projected to be selected on the first day of
the ceremony, but were still available.  The surprising absentees from this
group were forward Alexander Naurov and defenseman Denis Ezhov, who both had to
wait until early the next day to hear their names early in the fourth round. 


Dmitri Kosmachev

Third Round, 71st Overall

NHL Club: Columbus Blue Jackets

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Dmitri Kosmachev at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(Photo By: Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko

The first Russian picked up in the third round was the hulking, but surprisingly
agile defenseman, Dmitri Kosmachev.  The Columbus Blue Jackets
once again raided HC CSKA, picking Nikolai Zherdev’s teammate with their 71st
overall pick.  Well liked by Coach Viktor Tikhonov, Kosmachev saw significant with
Russian Super League’s CSKA Moscow.  Already developed well physically,
Kosmachev has had quite an impact on Russia’s U18 squad, where he skated on the
team’s top defensive pairing with Denis Ezhov.  His role was primarily
defensive, though the young blueliner is clearly try to refine his shot and
develop his game in the offensive zone.  Though he didn’t convert on the chance,
it’s hard to forget Kosmachev’s dash during the semifinals game against
Slovakia, when he took the puck and carried all the way to the offensive zone,
before releasing a shot at the Slovak goalie.  The talented blueliner seemed
to be a bit tired at the draft, since due to visa processing delays at the US
embassy, he was only able to arrive at the draft on Thursday night prior to the

Outlook: Dmitri will remain with CSKA Moscow for the coming season, and
will likely take on additional responsibility.  Again, Tikhonov likes this
player and it’s up to Kosmachev to take advantage of the opportunity he is being
given by the legendary coach.  The large defenseman is well developed
physically, but would benefit greatly from another couple of seasons in Russia’s
Super League.





Mikhail Zhukov

at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(Photo By: Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko

Mikhail Zhukov

Third Round, 72nd Overall

NHL Club: Edmonton Oilers

With the very next pick in the third round, the Edmonton
selected a big Russian 18-year-old forward from…the Swedish elite
club Aborga!  Mikhail Zhukov moved with his father to Sweden at just 11,
when his father took an assistant coaching position with a Swedish hockey club. 
The young man grew up able to speak fluently in both Swedish and Russian, also
possessing a strong grasp of the English language. The talented forward
impressed the media, speaking almost fluent English, and shared with them that
he was glad to be drafted by a club with such deep traditions and respect for
European players.  

Outlook: Zhukov will return to Aborga and attempt to establish himself on
the Swedish Elite League club. The young forward has the size and skill, and
definitely the bloodlines to be a capable hockey player.







Dmitri Pestunov at the U18 Tournament in the
Czech Republic

(Photo By: Russian Prospects Exclusive)

Dmitri Pestunov

Third Round, 80th Overall

NHL Club: Phoenix Coyotes

The Phoenix Coyotes used their second pick in the draft to select
Dmitri Pestunov
from Metallurg Magnitagorsk.  The young center was one
Russia’s best in his age group for most of the season. He earned a spot on
Metallurg’s main roster, though; only saw limited action on the fourth line. 
Pestunov also competed for Metallurg’s second team at
the junior tournament,
where he was one of the leading overall scorers.  Towards the end of the season,
the talented center hardly caught a break, but still managed to be effective at
the April’s U18 tournament, where he developed impressive chemistry with his
linemates, Dmitri Chernykh and Konstantin Makarov.  Phoenix was very happy that
Pestunov was still available by the middle of the third round, since he was wild
card prospect picked to go as high as early second round, though was only ranked
36th amongst the Europeans by the Central Scouting Bureau.   

Outlook: Pestunov will remain with Metallurg Magnitagorsk for the 2002-03
season and will attempt to gain a more substantial role, likely on the third
line of the Super League club.  Look for the young center to also continue to
contribute on Russia’s U20 national team, where he will likely once again be a
top four center, along with Shevjev, Kazionov and possibly Malkin. 







Konstantin Barulin

Third Round, 84th Overall

NHL Club: St. Louis Blues

Konstantin Barulin

at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(Photo By: Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko

The top rated European goaltender eligible for the 2003 NHL Entry Draft had to
wait until the 84th overall pick to hear his name called, but as
expected was still the first European goaltender to be taken.  A team known
for its goaltending woes, the St. Louis Blues picked Barulin, hoping to
replenish their goaltending depth.  The young goalie, who came on the scene
during the 2001-02 season, when he was the backup for Russia’s U18 squad, has
had a strong 2002-03 campaign, displaying his impressive level of maturity and
his ability to compete.  In the beginning of the season he beat two seasoned
backstoppers to take over the starting role for his Upper League club, Gazovik
Tumen. Barulin also took over the backup duties on Russia’s U20 squad, behind
Calgary Flames prospect Andrei Medvedev.  During the warm up tournaments leading
to the U20 World Junior Championships, Barulin took over the starting position
for Medvedev and performed impressively in that role.  

Outlook: Barulin will likely continue to start for Upper League’s Gazovik
Tyumen. Though because of politics, Gazovik will not likely ascend from
the Upper League to the Super League, the young goaltender may want to consider
trying to catch on with a Super League club.   The talented puck stopper will
also take over the starting role on Russia’s U20 squad. After the 2003-04
season, if Barulin does not move up to the Super League, he should consider
crossing the ocean to North America, as he will no longer be eligible to play on
Russia’s U20 squad, and will have likely surpassed what the Upper League can
offer him. 






Ivan Khomutov 

Ivan Khomutov at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(Photo By: Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko

Third Round, 93rd Overall

NHL Club: New Jersey Devils

Known to make surprising decisions with their early picks, the New Jersey
picked a Russian dark horse, Ivan Khomutov with their 93rd
overall pick.  Projected at one point to go late in the first round, Khomutov
dropped in the rankings after a mediocre season, which he split between Upper
League’s Elemash Elekrostal and CSKA’s junior farm team.  Due to unfortunate
political circumstances, the young center did not receive an invitation to
compete for Russia’s U18 National Team.  He was unable to show his potential
against his peers to the scouts, and as a result his ratings deflated.  The
young forward was present at the draft and though he knew little about the NHL
club, he was excited to be selected by the New Jersey Devils.  Interestingly,
Khomutov was also picked up by the OHL’s London Knights in the CHL Import Draft,
opening the door to the possibility that the talented center will make his way
to North America this coming season.

Outlook: Ivan Khomutov will likely make his way to the OHL, centering
London’s first or second line. The Knights also drafted Kraha from Belarus, who
could complement Khomutov on and off the ice, easing the transition to North
America.  The large, strong Khomutov with a soft pass, combined with the small,
but speedy Kraha could become a versatile scoring duo.



Ivan Khomutov at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
(Photo By: Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko

Grigory Shafigullin

Third Round, 98th Overall

NHL Club: Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators raided Lokomotiv’s youth stock once more, picking
Grigory Shafigullin with the club’s 98th overall pick.  A two
way forward who is not known for his scoring touch, Shafigullin plays a very
different type of hockey when compared to his better known Yaroslavl, and future
Nashville teammate, Konstantin Glazachev.  The young center played well in his
limited role with Super League’s champions, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Unfortunately,
while Shafigullin was not expected to produce points with the Super League club,
he was with the U18 national squad, and this was the task at which he
ultimately, for one reason or another, failed.  The main reason for this
significant “bump” in the young center’s season was his recurring wrist injury
he suffered during the Super League playoffs.  He attempted to play through the
injury at the U18 WJC, but was unable to do so, missing all the games prior to
the disappointing semifinal loss to Slovakia.  While he remained the seventh
overall European skater in the Central Scouting Bureau’s ratings, his stock
dropped further in the RussianProspects’ ratings to being 11th
amongst Russian skaters, and he was ultimately the 12th player from
the former Soviet Union selected at the draft.   It appeared that, despite some
high praises from several scouts, the NHL clubs were unsure about his offensive

Outlook: Shafigulin will return to Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and likely earn
additional ice time with the Super League club. He is not likely to earn an
invitation to Russia’s U20 squad.   The young center will hopefully bulk up in
the off-season and fill in his 6’3″ frame.


Konstantin Zakharov

Konstantin Zakharov
at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.

(Photo By: Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko

Third Round, 101st Overall

NHL Club: St. Louis Blues

The final third round selection from the former Soviet Union was Konstantin
Zakharov, who has become a name that frequently circulated hockey circles, as he
was Andrei Kostytsin’s linemate on the top line of Team Belarus.  The St. Louis
Blues selected the young player with their 101st overall pick. 
Unlike Kostytsin, Zakharov remained in Belarus during the 2002-03 season and
only had the international competition as a stage to showcase his skills.  
Though the young player was very productive at the U18 WJC in Yaroslavl, some
scouts believed that Zakharov’s success is largely due to playing on the same
line with Andrei Kostytsin and being coached by his father.  However, though
playing with a player of Kostytsin’s caliber definitely boosted the young right
wing’s production, Zakharov did not look out of place and showcased his own
skills and size.  Drafted by the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats in the CHL Import Draft,
Zakharov will now have a chance to establish himself as a leader on the Moncton
junior club. 

Outlook: Zakharov will play for Moncton this coming season. It would
interesting, though unlikely, that Artukhin would return to the club as well. 
Look for Zakharov to be an impact player of Yakubov’s caliber with the Wildcats.


As the first day of the 2003 NHL Entry draft wrapped up, most of those expected
to be drafted high were already picked up, with only a couple names missing from the selection lists.  Surprisingly, clubs that tended to
draft few Russian players in the past, such as St. Louis, Columbus and Nashville, picked up
a couple of players each in the first three rounds, a couple of them selecting several more on the second day of the draft.  


Yevgeniy (Eugene) Belashchenko