Ilya Zubov, born in Chelyabinsk, Russia, was a 4th round selection of the Ottawa Senators in the 2005 draft. In his draft year, the talented center was one of the top forwards out of Russia. Considered by many to be a “safe” early pick, Zubov has made great strides and shown a good attitude and maturity to go along with his impressive hockey skills.
2002-03: Zubov played in one professional game for Traktor in Russia’s High League, picking up one minor penalty. He also skated on the Russia ’87 squad, notching 2 points in 3 games.
2003-04: Zubov became a professional as he joined Traktor’s division 2 team in Russia’s High League. Skating in 33 games, Zubov accumulated 7 goals and 7 assists. His +8 rating was tops on his team and he was an important player who saw significant ice time. In the playoffs, Zubov was a go-to player and he notched 3 points in 8 games. Traktor made it to the semifinals, but lost to Molot. During the series, Zubov, despite being just 18 at the time, was entrusted to a crucial penalty shot on which he scored. Zubov also participated in several tournaments as the youngest member of Russia’s U18 ’86 squad.
2004-05: Along with centering the top line on Russia’s U18 ’87 squad, Zubov continued to play an important role for Traktor in the Russia High League. In 42 games, Zubov picked up 9 goals and 17 points while going +6. In tournament play, Zubov was extremely impressive, scoring 2 points in 3 games at the 4 Nations Tournament, 3 points in 4 games at the 5 Nations Tournament, and a remarkable 8 points in 4 games at the U18 World Junior Championships, leading Russia to the Gold medal.
2005-06: Zubov graduated to the Russian Elite league joining Spartak. In 43 contests, he recorded 14 points. During the playoffs, Zubov scored 4 points in 3 games. Zubov was once again a star at international tournaments, this time at the U20 World Junior Championships when he scored 6 points in 6 games as Russia captured the Silver medal. Zubov also skated in the 4 Nations Tournament.
2006-07: Zubov spent the season with two clubs in the RSL, HK Atlant and Salavat Yulaev. He tallied a goal and two points in 16 games with HK Atlant, and another four goals and 10 points in 26 games with his next squad. He again competed with the Russian National U20 squad, netting three goals and four points at the WJC; Russia took Silver at the tournament for the second straight year. He attended Ottawa’s Development Camp over the summer; expect to see him in North America next season. Zubov made his first trip to North America, participating in the Development Camp during the summer of 2007. He has signed a contract with the Senators.
2007-08: The Russian winger brought his game to North America this season, netting 15 goals and 38 points in 74 games in his first season of pro hockey with the B-Sens (AHL). He also saw his first bit of NHL hockey, appearing in one game (no points) with Ottawa.
2008-09: The Russian center spent the season with the B-Sens (AHL), the second straight of his pro hockey career. In 63 games he tallied 14 goals and 52 assists. He also saw more ice-time in the NHL, registering two assists in 10 games.
2009-10: One game is all Zubov would spent in North America this season, not registering a point and earning 2 minutes in the box before going to the KHL. In his time there between two clubs, Zubov would score 4 goals and 7 points in 31 games.
Zubov is a very offensively gifted forward, one of the best 1987 born Russian forwards. A speedster with a very smooth stride, Zubov is strong in tight spaces and can dangle extremely well. Zubov possesses a precise and very dangerous wrist shot which he uses often. His above average on-ice vision allows him to distribute the puck well and make needle-threading passes. Primarily an offensive player, often skating as the pivot on the top line, Zubov is no slouch in the defensive zone as he works very hard to help out his team in the backend. He possesses decent size but does not use it often enough and isn’t very comfortable playing in traffic areas. Zubov has the ability to play wing, but is a natural centerman, though he needs to work on his faceoffs.
Zubov has an impressive package of skill and natural offensive instinct making him a good candidate to become a top-six forward at the NHL level.