KHL Update: Top Prospects Guslistov, Svechkov, and Ovchinnikov

Ben Gehrels

2022-02-19

 

 

So, you want to keep tabs on your favourite Russian prospects but don’t speak Russian or enjoy watching hockey at six in the morning? You’re in the right place! Welcome to my monthly series where I break down the recent performance and track the development of top prospects playing in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Russia’s top men’s league. New updates will be posted on the third Wednesday of each month. Hit me up on Twitter at @beegare if you have a burning question or particular player you want me to focus on. I’d love to hear from you!

 

This month, we’ll provide you with an at-a-glance update on the top prospects playing in all three Russian leagues: the KHL (top-tier men’s league), VHL (second-tier men’s league), and MHL (top junior league). Then one prospect from each league will be highlighted in greater detail.

 

 

KHL Standouts

Player Pos. Age NHL Team PPG PNHLe
Arseni Gritsyuk RW 20 NJD 0.72 57
Dmitry Rashevsky RW 21 WPG 0.73 53
Vitaly Kravtsov RW 22 NYR 0.68 43
Marat Khusnutdinov C 19 MIN 0.38 39
Nikita Guslistov C 19 CAR 0.38 39
Kirill Marchenko LW 21 CBJ 0.51 36

 

After being passed over in 2020, Nikita Guslistov was taken by the Canes last year in the seventh round. He’s not exactly a fantasy asset at this point, but he’s a hard-working volume shooter and above-average skater who consistently demonstrates solid hockey IQ. Guslistov is already beating the odds and returning incredible value for Carolina: he represented Russia at the prematurely cancelled World Juniors and currently has five points in his last five KHL games playing for Severstal Cherepovets. KHL teams are infamous in North American circles for curtailing the ice time of top young players but Guslistov is bucking the trend by averaging about 16 minutes a game this year, even almost hitting 19 in their last game against Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg. That shows the coaching staff trust him as an all-situations player in their top six.

 

Hockey Prospecting gives Guslistov a 0% chance of becoming a star but a 33% of playing in 200+ NHL games. Because that model works on historical comparables (league, production, age, height/weight), the 0% predicted star potential isn’t surprising. That just means that no 5-9 170lbs Russian overagers selected in the 7th round have ever exceeded a 57-point pace over their NHL career. Yet.

 

Guslistov was just named KHL Forward of the Month for January and has the same point pace and PNHLe score as the much higher-profile MIN prospect, Marat Khusnutdinov. Keep an eye on him towards the end of this year. His contract with Severstal expires at the end of ‘21/22; if he comes over to North America and thrives early, his stocks will get another big boost similar to this year when he made the jump from the MHL to the KHL full time.

 

 

 

VHL Standouts

Player Pos. Age NHL Team PPG PNHLe
Nikita Chibrikov W 19 WPG 1.2 N/A
Dmitri Sokolov W 23 MIN 1.1 N/A
Fyodor Svechkov C/W 18 NAS 1.0 N/A
Ivan Morozov C 21 VGK 1.3 N/A
Alexander Pashin RW 19 CAR 0.84 N/A

 

Fyodor Svechkov was billed ahead of last year’s draft as a premier two-way forward with offensive upside. Scouting reports praised his defensive play, projecting him to become an important play-driver and possession beast at the NHL level—a Philip Danault or Jean-Gabriel Pageau type who can excel on the second line against the other team’s top opposition and still put points on the board without getting a lot of offensive zone starts or time on the power play. Early reports out of the VHL in his D+1 campaign continue to suggest a promising trajectory for the young forward. Though his HP star potential has fallen from 14% to 9%, he is currently putting up a point per game at 18 in a professional men’s league and profiles similarly to long-term NHLers like Justin Williams and Max Pacioretty.

 

Here he shows patience with the puck, considering his options and noticing a hole in the defence that allows him to cut to the middle and carry the puck right to the opposing team’s doorstep before firing it past the goalie. Excellent poise and spatial awareness:

 

 

Svechkov is signed in Russia until after the ’22-23 season. At that point, look for him to make his way to North America and join the Predators after a brief stint in the AHL. He was considered one of the most NHL-ready players in last year’s draft, so he’s likely not as far away as many of his peers.

 

 

MHL Standouts

Player Pos. Age NHL Team PPG PNHLe
Matvei Michkov RW 17 ‘23 Draft 2.0 N/A
Danila Yurov RW 18 ‘22 Draft 1.37 N/A
Dmitri Ovchinnikov C 20 TOR 1.32 N/A
Gleb Trikozov C/W 17 ‘22 Draft 1.22 N/A
Alexander Perevalov LW 17 ‘22 Draft 1.14 N/A
Viktor Neuchev F 18 ‘22 Draft 1.10 N/A
Alexander Kisakov LW 19 BUF 1.02 N/A
Dmitri Solovyov LW 20 Undrafted 0.92 N/A

 

You can read more elsewhere on Dobber Prospects about 2022 draft eligible Danila Yurov’s strong skating ability and high hockey IQ and how Gleb Trikozov has overtaken former projected top-three pick Ivan Miroshnichenko in the eyes of some as the top Russian in this draft class. Perevalov and Neuchev are also projected to be selected in the first few rounds this summer, and of course Michkov is a lock to go top two the following year.

 

The MHL player highlighted here will be Dmitri Ovchinnikov, the quick-skating longshot whom the Leafs rolled the dice on in the 2020 fifth round—which was later than many prognosticators had projected for him. The main knock-on Ovchinnikov was and still is his size: his 161 lbs make him easy to knock off the puck, regardless of how skilled he is. This is actually his third season in the Russian junior league, which is a bit unusual for high-end prospects, and though that apparent lack of progression could be concerning, he at least is performing very well: he’s been above a point-per-game in all three seasons. His HP profile shows consistent improvement and an excellent projection for a former fifth rounder; comparables like Jamie Langenbrunner are also encouraging to see.

 

 

 

Toronto has no need to rush Ovchinnikov, so in theory he has time to develop however and wherever is best for him. However, a crucial next step will be for him to begin playing against men given that he’s already 20 years old. If he can move up into a meaningful role in the VHL or even KHL next year and perform well, or if he crosses the pond and sees North American action, the Leafs and fantasy owners will begin to get a clearer picture of how his slick skillset will eventually translate to the NHL. He’ll be a long wait in fantasy, so for now he’s more of a “wait and see” situation outside of deeper leagues.

 

 

*******

 

Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter for more KHL updates, as well as info on Panthers and Lightning prospects, at @beegare

 

 

 

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
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Isak Rosén 7.5 7.5
Luke Evangelista 7.5 6.5
Connor Ingram 6.0 6.5
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