Top 20 Russia prospects, drafted and undrafted

By Alessandro Seren Rosso

Even with the last few years’ troubles, Russia remains a solid producer of elite-level prospects. This summer saw a stream of players crossing the ocean – the three names of Dmitry Kugryshev (WAS), Vyacheslav Voinov (LA) and Nikita Filatov (CBJ) are only a little sample – but there remain a good number of perspective players back in Russia, topped by Konstantin Korneev (MTL) and Dmitri Vorobiev (TOR).  Three of the top 20 belong to the Montreal Canadiens.

All of them have very good potential, but these days it’s hard to predict who will report to their NHL organizations and who won’t.
1. Konstantin Korneev, D

6’1, 176
06/05/1984, Moscow, Russia
9th round, 275th overall in 2002 NHL Draft by the Montreal Canadiens
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow
Korneev, 24, gets the honor of top prospect playing in Russia. Gifted with talent at both ends of the ice, he got really good after his move from Ak Bars Kazan to CSKA Moscow in the 2006-07 season. The captain of the Red Army team not only played a big role with his club team, but has stepped up in the international stage too, becoming World Champion last May. It’s still unclear if he will report to Montreal – and being the team’s captain doesn’t help in this matter – but he can become an impact player without passing from the AHL thanks to the experience he gained in the last few years.
2. Dmitri Vorobiev, D
6’2, 217
10/18/1985, Togliatti, Russia
5th round, 157th overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs
Currently playing for Salavat Yulaev Ufa
Vorobiev is another prospect whose drive towards the NHL is not clear. He turned down a number of offers from Toronto as he has stated he wasn’t interested in playing in the AHL. The 6’2 defenseman might change his mind next spring after being traded from his home town club Lada Togliatti to KHL contenders of Salavat Yulaev Ufa, where he started playing directly on first defensive pairing with veteran Vitaly Proshkin as his usual linemate Igor Schadilov is injured. Point-wise he’s not producing, but he has been a solid addition to the KHL leader’s lineup. The 23-year-old defender could be a very good addition for his Toronto Maple Leafs, but the Canadian franchise should understand more his ambition, being an established player in Europe and a regular member of the Russian national team. He also plays a style that would not require too much seasoning to become effective in the North American game.
3. Maxim Goncharov, D
6’0, 176
06/15/1989, Moscow, Russia
5th round, 123th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow
Some might argue that giving Goncharov such a high ranking might be hazardous, but Goncharov’s steps forward in the current season have been tremendous. After a strong RSL rookie campaign last year, he’s having even a better season currently. A teammate of Konstantin Korneev, he was called for the national team in the recent last stage of the Euro Hockey Tour. His very strong performances at the last WJC have further raised his stock. He already skated with the Phoenix Coyotes in last summer’s rookie training camp and this could mean that he’s willing to report sooner or later. He has a big ceiling being very skilled with a good physical edge, but has to further polish his game, being a bit raw and inexperienced. His playing style might pass very effectively to the NHL game.

4. Alexei Emelin, D

6’0, 187
04/25/1986, Togliatti, Russia
3rd round, 84th overall at the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens
Currently playing for Ak Bars Kazan
Emelin’s stock had dropped a bit in the last couple of seasons, but now he’s surely recovering the lost ground as witnessed by his recent return to Russian national team. Even if his offensive productiveness has been a bit overrated after his good stats in the WJC he skated in, he’s yet to score a goal in the last couple of seasons, he remains a reliable defensive defenseman who is usually iced in Ak Bars Kazan’s top shutdown defensive pairing. It’s still unclear if Emelin is really motivated to report in North America, but at this time he’s without a contract for the next season.
5. Evgeny Dadonov, F
5’10, 178
03/12/1989, Chelyabinsk, Russia
3rd round, 71st overall at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers
Currently playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk
A recent acquisition of the Florida Panthers, Dadonov is a highly skilled right winger with a good nose for the net. As shown in the last WJC in which he scored seven points in as many matches, he’s in possession of very good vision and excellent skating. Even if he’s having a rocky season after his very good 2007-08 campaign, if he keeps on progressing this way and, more importantly, he eventually reports, he can become a top-six forward with the Panthers who surely needs his skills to empower their offensive crop of players. He should also work on his defensive play.
6. Yuri Alexandrov, D
6’2, 187
06/24/1988, Cherepovets Russia
2nd round, 37th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins
Currently playing for Severstal Cherepovets
Alexandrov is a very, very good defensive prospect who has been slowed down this year because of a heavy shoulder injury he suffered from when the season was still young. But despite this he’s having a good season with his Severstal Cherepovets as he already scored eight points in 20 matches, logging an average ice time of 18:00. He’s already the third scoring defenseman of his team even if he played less than half of regular season matches played so far. He is a valuable member of his team already and with a combination of commitment and luck he can become a top-4 defenseman in the NHL, if he will report, as he’s solid in both ends of the ice with a good shot. His good maneuverability allows him to be a reliable power play quarterback, and his experience, unusual for a defenseman of his age in Russia, would ease things up for an eventual adaption in the North American system.
7. Igor Makarov, F
6’1, 183
2nd round, 33rd overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Chicago Blackhawks
Currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg
Unlikely most of the featured prospects, Makarov started the season thinking about earning a spot in the NHL, but things didn’t turn out well and he has was cut from the Hawks’ training camp to return in Russia playing for St. Petersburg’s SKA. Makarov’s qualities and ceiling are not in discussion and hopefully he will get another shot next fall. The 2006 second rounder is used by Barry Smith on the team’s second line getting quality minutes in a stacked team who’s playing not as well as expected in the pre-season, as the owners spent a lot of money strengthening the team. If he manages to turn his inconsistency into history, Makarov can become a second line material for the Blackhawks in a couple of years.
8. Kirill Petrov, F
6’3, 198
04/13/1990, Kazan, Russia
3rd round, 73rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the New York Islanders
Currently playing for Ak Bars Kazan
With Petrov, the New York Islanders added huge talent to their system. His excellent stickhandling, paired with his good size make him a dangerous player every time he hits the ice. Petrov is a very good player when the game opens up, but he is not too hurt by the physical play and his style could be successfully moved to the North American one. His relatively low rank is due to the fact that he’s yet to really recover from a serious injury he suffered in September. He missed three months of hockey and now, as seen in the WJC, he’s yet to get some game practice as now he lost his regular slot in Ak Bars’ third line and his head coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov isn’t giving him room. Maybe he would have been better to leave Russia, but this is hindsight now.

9. Sergei Shirokov, F

5’10, 176
03/10/1986, Moscow, Russia
6th round, 163th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow
One of the hottest players in this period, Shirokov is a player who under the radar is getting very good statistics playing in the top lines of CSKA Moscow. The playmaking forward has already set his career high in points with 36, with seven more games to go in which he can further improve his point production. He clicks very well with Denis Parshin (COL) and the two make an interesting undersized duo. The question with him is kind of common in this feature: will Shirokov cross the ocean?
10. Kirill Kabanov, F
6’4, 180
07/16/1992, Moscow, Russia
2010 Draft Eligible
Currently playing for Spartak Moscow
The first undrafted player of this ranking, Kirill Kabanov is a very young player with an immense upside who has good chances to be drafted in the top 10 in 2010. He has already stated that wants to get in America as soon as possible and it’s not a secret that the OHL Sudbury Wolves have been hunting him for some time already. He has flawless stickhandling and good size for his age, all things that he showcased in the last 5-Nations tournaments in Sweden, when he played with – and against – players one year older than him. He has superstar written all over him at this point, but we’ll see how he develops in the next few years.
11. Vitaly Anikeyenko, D
6’4, 199
02/01/1987, Yaroslavl, Russia
3rd round, 70th overall in the  2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Ottawa Senators
Currently playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
A big, stay-at-home defenseman, Anikeyenko is among the biggest risers of the year. He always been a promising player, but finally it seems that he really wanted to move on in his career and thus he’s skating harder and playing with more determination. Even if he’s not such a technical player like usually Russian trained players are, he can be very useful in the power play, when he can cause havoc with his strong slapshot from the point. He’s a tough player who is very disciplined and usually isn’t detrimental to his team as he doesn’t tend to take stupid penalties. At this stage of his development, he needs to cross the ocean in order to further improve his play, but he must be patient and avoid rushing things like another talented defensive defenseman did – Pavel Valentenko.
12. Vyacheslav Buravchikov, D
6’1, 189
06/17/1987, Moscow, Russia
6th round, 191st overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Buffalo Sabres
Currently playing for Ak Bars Kazan
Buravchikov was a highly-touted prospect in his draft year, who was considered one of the finest European offensive defensemen. Many things have changed since that days as Buravchikov moved to Ak Bars Kazan and had a lot of hard time dealing with the expectations. After a couple of rocky seasons Buravchikov, now 21, has made huge steps forward. Constantly getting quality ice time with his team, he plays a lot on the penalty kill because of his great effort in his own end. He must further work on his offensive side because he has good instincts, but only rarely attempts being creative. He can develop into a nice puck moving defenseman if he gets a correct career path. He’s a prospect on the rise.
13. Maxim Kitsyn, F
6’2, 192
12/24/1991, Novokuznetsk, Russia
2010 Draft Eligible
Currently playing for Metallurg Novokuznetsk
The second undrafted player in this feature, Maxim Kitsyn has been making people talk about him for long time already. Good sized and enormously gifted, he is another player with superstar ceiling because of his offensive play. He scored four goals in this season already and this is not common in players so young in Russian top league as they usually don’t get too much ice time. He’s a notable exception though. He played very well in the last 5-Nations tournament won by the USA, but was overplayed by Kabanov and another intriguing late 91-born, Vladimir Tarasenko. Kitsyn needs to polish up his play a bit, but has all the tools to become an impact player.
14. Maxim Trunev, F
5’11, 174
09/07/1990, Kirovo-Chepetsk, Russia
5th round, 138th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens
Currently playing for Severstal Cherepovets
Trunev has huge upside, but is suffering a bit for not having enough ice time with his home club, HC Severstal. In the last month or so the trend is kind of reversed as he seems to have finally earned a regular spot in the roster, confirming his will of being first a Severstal main roster player rather than skating in one of the Canadian junior leagues. If he keeps on getting such ice time, then his decision paid off, but he’s still a long shot. He also has been overlooked in the last WJC selections, which went to more role players. His explosive skating and his very good technique make him an intriguing prospect and the Habs should try to get Trunev in their system as quick as they can.
15. Denis Parshin, F
5’9, 158
02/01/1986, Rybinsk, Russia
3rd round, 72nd overall in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche
Currently playing for CSKA Moscow
The prototypical Russian forward, Parshin has always been thought to be a very good player, and it’s a correct impression. Parshin has the skills to break into the offensive zone, deke two players and score top shelf. There is only one thing that doesn’t make him such an attractive prospect: his lack of size. At only 5’9, 158 lbs he has low chances to succeed in North America even if his technique is top notch. At this point it’s very hard to think that he will ever report, that’s why he earns a relative slow place in this ranking despite being him a more established player than others. In this season he has scored a bit less than the past couple of years.
16. Alexander Bumagin, F
6’0, 180
03/01/1987, Togliatti, Russia
6th round, 170th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Edmonton Oilers
Currently playing for Atlant Mytischi
Another product of the famous Togliatti hockey school, Bumagin hasn’t really yet delivered after leaving Lada. He joined Atlant Mytischi – at times still called Khimik – and there he played well, with stints in the first line, but has suffered the big depth of the Moscow Region team. Unfortunately this season has been no different as he struggled so far to find his place in a veteran-filled roster. He would probably be better crossing the ocean now, because hardly in the next season he will face a different situation.
17. Denis Bodrov, D
6’0, 185
02/22/1986, Togliatti, Russia
2nd round, 55th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers
Currently playing for Atlant Mytischi

A teammate of Bumagin, Bodrov has just changed teams since he was traded by Lada to Atlant in late February, apparently for disciplinary reasons, but the recent economic crisis must played a role too as Lada also traded Vorobiev to Salavat Yulaev Ufa. He’s skating in the third line of the stacked Moscow Region team and it’s still unknown if he will report or not after this summer’s events, when he was expected to join the Flyers’ training camp, then to sign for Avangard just to remain with Lada. We’ll see what are his plans for the 2009-10 campaign.
18. Konstantin Glazachev, F
6’0, 187
02/18/1985, Arkhangelsk, Russia
2nd round, 35th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators
Currently playing for Barys Astana
Many wonder why Glazachev hasn’t had a successful career. He’s gifted, speedy and smart, can either score or pass, but – since this season – he just sub-par seasons for Lokomotiv, Amur and Metallurg Novokuznetsk. This summer he signed a contract with KHL newcomers of Barys Astana and with the Kazakh club Glazachev entered in a great shape and is having a career season. So far he scored 44 points, with 24 goals, in 48 regular-season contests, playing mostly as the team’s first line left wing. After this breakout season, the Preds should seriously think about trying to lure him across the ocean.
19. Anton Krysanov, F
6’3, 198
03/25/1987, Togliatti, Russia
5th round, 148th overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix Coyotes
Currently playing for Lada Togliatti

A young playmaking center, Krysanov is an underrated prospect with excellent offensive instincts and very good skating skills. He has a good set of hands and can feed players in all parts of the ice, has bulked up nicely in the last couple of season as he used to be a bit too slim, but he needs to defend more and to work a bit on the faceoff work. The Yotes should think about trying to get him reporting as he probably needs to move up on his career. He is a very talented player, but he would need some seasoning in the AHL.

20. Sergei Gaiduchenko, G
6’5, 222
06/06/1989, Kiev, Ukraine
7th round, 202nd overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Florida Panthers
Currently playing for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl
The only goalie on the list, Gaiduchenko is a huge, stand-up goaltender who has showed some flashes of goodness in the last ADT Canada-Russia Challenge, but Sergei Nemchinov decided to not call him for the WJC, a decision who has left many people puzzled. Despite his solid numbers in the few matches he played, .942 save percentage and a GAA of only 1.62, he’s the team’s third goalkeeper behind Georgi Gelashvili and veteran Sergei Zvyagin. His size makes him cover the net well, but he’s also agile and with very good reflexes. He though needs to get more game time and experience, and for doing this he would need either to report or to change team as Lokomotiv’s head coach Kari Heikkila seems to not want to count on him, just as he usually does with youngsters.

Other notables

Sergei Andronov, F

6’0, 181
07/19/1989, Togliatti, Russia
Eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft
Currently playing for Lada Togliatti

Overlooked in the last two drafts, the young winger is a very good player who has been among the best for Team Russia in the last WJC. He’s having a solid KHL season, with eight goals scored so far. Is this enough to get a call in June? Only time will tell, but he has the potential.

Ilya Kablukov, F

6’2, 183
01/18/1988, Moscow, Russia
5th round, 146th overall in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks
Currently playing for Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod

Despite not having a great season stats-wise, he does look good in Torpedo even if he missed some games. He’s a good, versatile player who can center both scoring and checking lines. He is though still some seasoning far from playing in the NHL, but can become a utility player.

Vladimir Tarasenko, F
6’0, 192
12/13/1991, Novosibirsk, Russia
Eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft
Currently playing for Sibir Novosibirsk

A great talent, Tarasenko played better than Kitsyn with the national team this year. Good sized and enormously gifted, Tarasenko is experiencing a good KHL rookie season with five goals so far. His good two-way game and his game commitment make him an extremely intriguing player who can go high in the 2010 draft.

Pavel Valentenko, D

6’2, 212
10/20/1987, Nizhnekamsk, Russia
5th round, 139th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Montreal Canadiens
Currently playing for Dynamo Moscow

Returning back to Russia after his stint with the Hamilton Bulldogs might have halted his NHL chances, but Pavel Valentenko remains a good prospect for the future. His big body and powerful shot are useful weapons, and his North American experience made him progressing a lot as a player. Will he get a second chance in Montreal?