Prospect Ramblings: Dmitri Simashev – a Tier Above the Rest
If there’s one player who’s risen more than any other for me in this draft class, it’s Dmitri Simashev. From not even being ranked in October (granted, neither was Jayden Perron, so I’ve come a long way), to becoming a player on the edge of my top tier of players not named Connor Bedard, Simashev has simply gotten better with every viewing.
He currently sits at seventh overall in my rankings, and has defined himself as my favourite blueliner in the class. My personal first round is thin on defense, with only five of the 32 players playing from the blueline, but, notwithstanding, Dmitri Simashev is truly a tier above the rest.
Axel Sandin Pelikka held this spot for several months, and I still have him ranked in the same tier as Simashev, but the divide is getting bigger.
There’s so much to like with Simashev, as he’s essentially a combination of all of the top defenders in the class. He stands at 6-4, 201, which generally makes NHL GM’s drool, and he skates beautifully. His skating mechanics are bordering on elite, and he uses his frame to generate above-average speed, and to hold fantastic puck possession tools.
Many have commented that he lacks the offensive drive of other defensemen in the class (such as Sandin Pelikka and Hunter Brzustewicz), but I’ve found it to be quite the contrary. While his production (or lack of) in the KHL (0 points in 18 games) is glaring on a stat sheet, it isn’t representative of his game. 12 points in 31 MHL games is a much better sample of his offensive prowess. He isn’t the most creative offensive mind in the world, but he utilizes his size properly to responsibly drive offense.
He’s decidedly middle-driven, which is always a good sign for projectability of a Russian defenseman, and he thrives in transition. His defensive toolkit is great, with his size and skating allowing him to backcheck effectively. His hockey IQ is equally very strong, especially obvious in the way he drives offense. He finds convenient passing lanes and has a very accurate shot.
There are a lot of projectible defenders in the 2023 class, and it is likely that names like David Reinbacher go very high, but Dmitri Simashev, in my opinion, is one of two players who could become top-pairing guys (Sandin Pelikka being the other). My views aren’t shared by all, but Dobber’s Director of North American Scouting, Sebastian High, has Simashev ranked eighth.
Having just turned 18, there’s a lot of time for him to develop. For me, he is on the tier of David Jiricek and Simon Nemec from the 2022 draft. EliteProspects ranking him as 12 is what I believe will be a dynamic upwards shift for him, as who doesn’t love at 6-4 two-way guy?
While I am cognizant that Dobber has him ranked 44th in their mid-season rankings, I am confident that will change as the draft approaches. Dmitri Simashev has the size, speed, and smarts. He has the offense, defense, and middle-driven play. The only thing he doesn’t have at this point is a spot in the top-four of an NHL lineup, but it’s coming.
Thanks for reading! You can catch me on Twitter with bi-weekly personal rankings updates @itovitch , and at the Puck and Roll Podcast!