Ruslan is one of the two Bashkirov brothers who are eligible for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. After Ruslan and his twin brother Roman were both selected by the QMJHL Quebec Remparts in the first round of last summer’s CHL Import draft out of Russia, they both decided to play in North America for the first time this past season.
Although Roman put up somewhat better numbers this past season in the Q, it is Ruslan, who, at 5’11, 187 lbs is the bigger of the two brothers, is expected to be selected first in this month’s NHL draft. The bigger brother finished sixth among rookies in the league in regular season scoring with 67 points in 64 games (117 PIM, +11 rating), and was fifth on the Remparts in total post-season points (4).
Touted to be a good puck handler, who can be aggressive and loves to go to the net, Bashkirov has a reputation of being good along the boards. According to scouts, if there is something particular that he needs to work on, it is his skating, as agility and mobility can be issues for the Russian winger.
Bashkirov was invited to participate in the CHL Top Prospects Game this past January in Quebec City, and was named his team’s Player of the Game after scoring two goals in the showcase. He had an excellent second half of the season with Quebec, and was a highly-touted prospect going into the Combine in Toronto last week.
HF caught up with Bashkirov at the Combine, where he communicated with us through an interpreter.
HF: Did you have any trouble adjusting to the North American style of play when you first got here last fall?
RB: Coming over was really okay, the most difficult adjustment was the language barrier. The smaller rink was not difficult to get accustomed to at all. My brother and I billeted together which helped out a lot.
HF: You got off to a slow start and toward the end of the year, your statistics improved. What accounted for the change?
RB: I received less ice time in the beginning of the season, and in the last half of the season, the coaches gave me a lot more ice time, which gave me confidence to go out and play my game.
HF: What was it like being a player under a coach as famous as Patrick Roy?
RB: Skating with him as a coach was really good. I very much liked him as a coach.
HF: How was the hockey experience different in the Quebec league different than it was in Russia?
RB: The hockey is a lot faster here in North America than it is in Russia, mostly because of the smaller rink.
HF: Were you playing with older players in Russia than you were here?
RB: Yes I was at times, but the level of play was sort of the same there as here.
HF: What do you as your strengths on the ice, the best parts of your game?
RB: Attacking with the puck and scoring goals are the two things I do best.
HF: Would you consider yourself a physical player?
RB: I am okay at physical play, but it is not one of my strong points. I don’t feel though that it is a weakness.
HF: So what will you be working on over the next few years to improve your game and your chances of playing in the NHL?
RB: I will be working hard on improving my play in the defensive zone. Making sure to play solidly in my own zone.
HF: Who has influenced your hockey career the most until now?
RB: My father has really helped me a lot in my hockey career. He has taken me everywhere to help me play.
HF: What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re not playing hockey?
RB: I like to play soccer and I enjoy taking walks. I am very active.
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