After scoring 20 goals in 25 points for Metallurg’s junior squad, young Evgeny Gladskikh quickly established him as an excellent junior scorer in the Russian leagues. At 17 years of age, he made his debut in the Russian Super League on Metallurg’s third line, playing well enough to be drafted in the third round by the Vancouver Canucks in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft.
The 2001-02 season was supposed to be one that saw him perhaps break out offensively, but it didn’t come. While he was able to solidly himself in the Superleague as a player, he had yet to emerge as the scorer he was in juniors, though the Superleague is a hard nut to crack for many a young goal scorer. Gladskikh finished with 5 goals and 11 points in 32 games. The 2002-03 season was yet another of disappointment, as young teammates around him seemed to breakout and leave him in the dust. Gladskikh finished the year with 42 games played, 4 goals, and 11 points and saw his ice time dwindle throughout the year.
However, showing why it is never good to give up on youngsters too early, he finally broke out in 2003-04. Through 47 games, he put up 13 goals and 26 points for Metallurg, and became one of the top scoring prospects in the Superleague. He was also able to score 3 goals in Metallurg’s Superleague playoff run.
2003-04: Gladskykh enjoyed a solid sophomore campaign out during the 2004-05 season. The young forward proved his versatility by constantly shifting between the second and third lines, skating where the club’s head coach Sykora directed him to skate. He did, however, spend a good amount of time skating with his long time linemate Alexei Kaigorodov. During the first two thirds of the season, he almost reached his totals from the previous season in 10 less games. Unfortunately, in December he injured his leg and was sidelined for almost two months. When Gladskykh returned into the lineup in late January, it took him a little while to rediscover his scoring touch and return the speed that made him such a scoring threat early in the season. While he fully recovered from the injury, Gladskykh missed out on the critical Sweden Games to solidify his candidacy for the national team. He had a solid showing in the two games he played for Russia at the Karjala Cup, but did not make the squad’s lineup at the World Championships, where Russia skated away with the bronze medals.
Evgeny Gladskikh is a pure-bred goal scorer with tremendous puck skills and strong offensive instincts. Elite puck handling, soft hands, and a tremendously powerful wrist shot, combined with a hard-working attitude gives Gladskikh the combination of skills that one would expect in a exceptional goal scorer at any level. A very smart and creative player, Gladskikh is a mature player on the ice, he is seemingly always in the right spot to pounce on a rebound or intercept a pass, and loves to out-smart his opponents by slipping behind defenders to get into shooting positions, or displaying magnificent artistry with his amazing stickhandling. While not big, Gladskikh does not get pushed around on the ice, but this may be a different story in more physical leagues in North America if he decides to cross the pond. He is not good defensively at the moment at this point, however, though many young Russian players are the same, and no doubt he will improve in this respect in time.
He must become accustomed to the physical style in North America, but if he is unwilling to play in the American league, it is possible Gladskikh never plays in the NHL, as it’s unlikely any team is willing to promise him a one-way contract when he’s not tested in the AHL.