2004-05: Vasyunov spent the 2004-05 season with Lokomotiv’s junior team, where he had a decent year, scoring 10 goals and two assists in 28 games
2005-06: Vasyunov put up even more impressive numbers with Yaroslavl’s junior team in 05-06, scoring 29 goals and six assists in only 29 games. He also contributed for Team Russia at many international competitions, including the February U18 Five Nations Tournament where he scored three goals in four games and was named best forward of the event. His strong play earned him a look with Lokomotiv’s senior team for a pair of games, and also got him selected by the New Jersey Devils in the second round of the 2006 NHL Draft.
2006-07: Vasyunov was given an opportunity to make an impact with HC Lokomotiv, but was unable to adjust to the speed of the Super League game. He only suited up for 17 games and was held completely off the scoresheet. Another aspect of Vasyunov’s season that was again only marginally successful was his performance at the World Junior Championship. There, the expectations were even higher of the young forward, as he has enjoyed a long and impressive track record. He scored two goals in six games at the tournament. Vasyunov did create a lot of room for his linemates and was consistently a threat on the ice, but his overall play at the tournament was sub-par.
2007-08: Vasyunov again toiled for his hometown club in Yaroslavl, with HC Lokomotiv, where he had a very good campaign. Before the season started, he played in the Canada/Russia Super Series, where he was one of the better performers on the team in the four games in which he skated. He kept improving all year long, becoming a valuable member for his team, scoring four goals in 22 games. These might not sound as impressive numbers, but HC Lokomotiv’s head coach Kari Heikkila conceded to let youngsters play a fringe role in the lineup. The best showing from him was in the playoffs, where he was on fire, scoring two consecutive game-winning goals in the semifinals series against former Malkin’s club HC Metallurg, being hard to contain for their defenseman mostly because of his burning speed. Vasyunov’s team eventually reached the finals, but was beaten in five games by HC Salavat. He was tought to be an important part of Russian national team at the WJC, but a shoulder injury kept him at home.
2008-09: Vasyunov made some waves in his North American pro debut for Lowell, but didn’t start the year there. After a slow start with his team in Yaroslavl (KHL), Vasyunov and the Devils decided that it was in wat time to cross the pond, and in late October, he made his pro debut. Though the 20 year-old was quite streaky, he still managed 15 goals and 13 assists in 69 games. Those 15 markers were good enough to tie for fourth best on the club and was tops amongst Lowell rookies. His +3 rating was quite solid as well.
2009-10: Vasyunov continued his North American career with New Jersey’s AHL team, the Lowell Devils. In 68 games, the Russian forward would manage 16 goals and 22 assists.
2010-11: Vasyunov tragically perished in an airplane crash with fellow Lokomotiv Yaraslavl teammates on September 7th, 2011.
Vasyunov is blessed with tremendous individual and all-around skill. He is a goal-scorer, possessing an accurate and heavy shot. His AHL numbers have been somewhat underwhelming since a splashy debut, but some of that can be accounted to not playing with players that can compliment his skill-set. While not a blazer, Vasyunov skates well and gets to where he has to. Before coming to North America, Vasyunov was below average defensively and not very strong on his feet, but he has vastly improved in his own end and has filled out his frame nicely. Defensive play is still not his strength, but he has improved it to the point where it is no longer a major weakness.
Unfortunately, Vasyunov’s career with the Devils looks to be at a cross-roads as he has signed to play in the KHL for the 2011-12 season. He did get an extended look in New Jersey earlier in the season, but with a fully healthy line-up, it was going to be tough for Vasyunov to crack the line-up full time. There’s no doubting his talent, but the opportunity isn’t there right now.