Russian 2004 NHL Entry Draft review – Rounds 1 and 2

By Eugene Belashchenko

 

1ST ROUND:
#1
ALEXANDER OVECHKIN (Washington Capitals) (RP projection: 1st overall)

There’s not much to say about this pick, since Ovechkin was projected to go No. 1 for
the past couple of seasons. One question that remained until the Washington
Capitals finally announced his name was whether the young forward would
be a Capital, or if the organization would trade away the pick. Rumor has
it that the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins made some tempting
offers to the Capitals, but none were good enough to wrestle the pick away
from the Caps. Malkin’s strong performance late in the season raised
some rumors that he might beat out his countryman for the first overall pick,
but that did not
materialize on draft day. The Capitals came a way with a franchise player,
who has already played professionally for three seasons since the age of
16 in the Super League, which is widely recognized as the second best league
in the world after the NHL. (Visit RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an In
Depth Evaluation of Alexander Ovechkin’s selection
, Alexander Ovechkin’s
Detailed
Player Profile
)

#2
EVGENI MALKIN (Pittsburgh Penguins) (RP projection: 2nd overall)
Evgeni Malkin was a favorite to go No. 2 in the draft for most of
the season, but really came on strong in the last few months of the 2003-04
season. The 6’4 center delivered a solid rookie season in the Russian
Super League, coming away with the Rookie of the Year honors despite missing
a month with a concussion. Malkin also captained the gold winning Russian
national team at the 2004 U18 WJC, where he was clearly Russia’s best
player on the ice in every game. There was no question who the Penguins
would draft with their first pick on June 26th and like the Washington Capitals,
the Pittsburgh Penguins came away from the draft with a franchise player,
who will be with the NHL club for many years to come. A full year younger
than Ovechkin, the talented play maker has the long term potential not only
to match, but also to surpass the No. 1 overall pick. Malkin has voiced his
intentions to play in the Russian Super League for at least another season
before coming over to the NHL. The decision is the correct one for the young
player. Despite his impressive height and wide shoulders, he clearly still
hasn’t filled in his frame and needs another season to become physically
stronger and more prepared for the rigors of North American hockey. (Visit
RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an In
Depth Evaluation of Evgeni Malkin’s selection
, Evgeni Malkin’s Detailed
Player Profile
)

#15
ALEXANDER RADULOV (Nashville Predators) (RP projection: late first round)

With the selection of Konstantin Glazachev and Grigory Shafigullin,
the Nashville Predators turned their gaze towards Russia during the 2003
NHL Entry Draft and the 2004 draft was more of the same. The NHL club selected
Alexander Radulov 15th overall in the first round, making him the third
Russian to be picked up in the draft. With his vision of the ice and scoring
ability, Radulov has the potential to become an impact player on a club
that is starved for offense. However, the young forward will need to learn
to perform better against physical opponents. Later in June, Radulov was
drafted by the Quebec Ramparts and has committed to the QJMHL club for the
2004-05 season. While the league may not be the most physical of the junior
leagues, it will allow Radulov to acclimate to North American hockey before
jumping to the NHL. (Visit RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an for an In
Depth Evaluation of Alexander Radulov’s selection
, Alexander Radulov’s
Detailed
Player Profile
)

2ND ROUND:
#42
ROMAN VOLOSHENKO (Minnesota Wild) (RP projection: early second round)
Voloshenko is a great pickup for the Wild early in the second
round. The young forward is a budding power forward with a great shot and
ability to finish. He was Russia’s top scorer at the U18 WJC, solidifying
himself a spot in the fringe of the first round. The young forward will
remain in Russia with the Soviet Wings in Russia’s High League (Russia
2) for the 2004-05 season, but considering that the Wild are a young organization,
the young player may put on the Wild uniform as early as the summer of 2005.
(Visit RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an for an In
Depth Evaluation of Roman Voloshenko’s selection
, Roman Voloshenko’s
Detailed
Player Profile
and Exclusive
Post Draft Interview
)

#44
ROMAN TESLYUK (Edmonton Oilers) (RP projection: N/A – North American player)

The hard hitting 6’1 and 190 lb Siberian crossed the ocean
last summer to play for the Kamloops Blazers in the junior WHL. Prior to
the 2003-04 season, Teslyuk was known to be a talented skater and possess
an impressive shot, but surprisingly he did not excel offensively in the
WHL. Still, the young player was one of the top blue liners available out
of the North America leagues and accordingly was drafted in the second round.

#50
ENVER LISIN (Phoenix Coyotes) (RP projection: late first round)

Projected to be a late first round selection, Enver Lisin’s drop to
this late into the second round was quite a surprise. The young winger may
have been the fastest skater available in the draft and has a wealth of
potential. He may be a bit of a project, but the Phoeni
x Coyotes clearly
came away with a steal in the second round. Lisin signed a contract with
Ak Bars Kazan and will start the 2004-05 season on the club’s fourth
line, making his Super League debut. (Visit RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an for an In
Depth Evaluation of Enver Lisin’s selection
, Enver Lisin’s Detailed
Player Profile
and Exclusive
Post Draft Interview
)

#58
KIRILL LYAMIN (Ottawa Senators) (RP projection: late first round)
Considering Lyamin’s impressive performance in the Super
League and on Russia’s National team at the U18 WJC, his
fall so late into the second round was shocking. The hard hitting defenseman
is a solid overall package and the Ottawa Senators came away with an absolute
steal. A reason for his drop may have been a “back injury” he
suffered in late November. Despite some initial reports, the injury was
only a muscle bruise in the ribcage area, which quickly healed and does
not merit any long term concerns. The young defenseman will continue to
skate with CSKA Moscow in the coming 2004-05 season and will likely build
on his impressive 2003-04 performance. (Visit RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an In
Depth Evaluation of Kiril Lyamin’s selection
, Kiril Lyamin’s Detailed
Player Profile
and Exclusive
Post Draft Interview
)

#62
MIKHAIL YUNKOV (Washington Capitals) (RP projection: late second round)

Looking for a center to replenish the club’s relatively light depth
at that position, the Washington Capitals drafted the talented young Russian
late in the second round. Yunkov is a versatile two way player who centered
Russia’s dynamic Radulov – Yunkov – Voloshenko line at
the 2004 U18 WJC. Known to be a defensive expert, he also has a solid offensive
upside. The young forward will start the 2004-05 season with the Soviet
Wings in Russia’s High League (Russia 2). (Visit RUSSIANPROSPECTS.com
for an In
Depth Evaluation of Mikhail Yunkov’s selection
, Mikhail Yunkov’s Detailed
Player Profile
and Exclusive
Post Draft Interview
)