Welcome back to Shift Work! The series where I take a look at a draft-eligible player and breakdown a game tape. I’ll be bringing you some comprehensive breakdowns of a player’s game as we go over an entire game of tape from a player. We will be focusing in on that player’s shifts and getting a peek at what the average game of that player looks like. We will be highlighting a lot of things that scouts and evaluators look for when they are watching a player’s game.
I couldn’t do this nearly as easy if it weren’t for collaboration with Prospect Shifts. The subscription-based website ($5/$10 options available) that takes a draft-eligible player and produces a video with only that player’s shifts. It cuts out the rest of the game, the commercials and intermissions making it much less time consuming to get a quick view on a player for scouts, writers and analysts alike.
Today’s subject is left-handed defenseman Alexander Nikishin of the Spartak Moskva (Moscow) in the KHL. A draft-eligible prospect who plays in the KHL is always going to regarded highly and Nikishin is no different. He is a defense-first blueliner who has a big frame and the physicality to match. The game that we will be viewing and breaking down is Spartak’s September 10th matchup with Avangard Omsk. Playing in arguably the second-best league in the world, Nikishin showed aspects of his game that bode well for his future and presented some issues in his game that will need to be worked on as he develops. Let’s dive in!
Below we can see Nikishin’s (#10 in red) first shift of the game. While he doesn’t touch the puck, we do get a glimpse of his skating over long stretches as he tracks back into his zone. It’s the first concern that arises in Nikishin’s game. He isn’t a strong skater and grades out as slightly below average. While he is mobile enough to get around, it’s immediately evident that he isn’t going to be a player who carries the puck through the neutral zone in any dynamic fashion.
One thing that Nikishin doesn’t lack is strength. We see in the following clip that Nikishin (#10) is able to effortlessly throw aside not only an opposing player but also a teammate in the process. His loose puck retrieval in the clip is a bit of a concern, however. His first-step quickness is a bit of a concern but he has a long stick and is able to poke the puck from harm’s way. Improving his first-step should be an issue that he immediately addresses.