2021 NHL Draft: 5 under-the-radar Russian players to watch
This could be a very interesting 2021 NHL Draft class for Russian prospects.
On top of the handful of well-known players that are in the conversation for the first round, there are a number of draft-eligible Russians that are extremely intriguing and not known as well. A couple of them could even garner some first-round discussion.
As FCHockey dives into the 2020-21 season, our scouts agreed on five lesser-known Russian prospects that are catching our eyes already. Some of these prospects have already been impressing in their league play and in international tournaments in past years.
Here are FCHockey’s five under-the-radar Russian prospects to watch this season:
Nikita Buruyanov, RW, Dynamo St. Petersburg
A player that has been used regularly on the international stage and has shown promise in league play is Nikita Buruyanov. The Russian right winger is on the older side of this draft class, being an October 2, 2002 birthday, but is an extremely intriguing player to watch.
The forward is currently playing in the MHL for Dynamo St. Petersburg, his second year with the team. Last season as a rookie, he played 40 games with the team, scoring seven goals, seven assists, and 14 points in 40 games. He also dressed for Team Russia in two big tournaments, the Hlinka Gretzky Cup (two goals in five games) and the World Junior-A Challenge (one goal, two assists in six games). He helped Russia to goal at the Hlinka.
Buruyanov also won a gold medal in 2018-19 is Russia in the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, recording no points in six games. That season he served as the captain of the Buldogi St. Petersburg U17 team in the Russia U17 league. He scored 18 goals, 17 assists, and 35 points in 26 games.
Buruyanov’s speed and puckhandling ability could see him get some high draft consideration in 2021, especially if he can find some consistency in his game.
Daniil Molodtsov, D, Taifun Primorsky Krai
An extremely lesser-known prospect, Daniil Molodtsov is at the opposite end of the draft class from Buruyanov. The defender was born September 12, 2003, making him one of the youngest players in this class.
Currently in his MHL rookie season with Taifun Primorsky Krai, Molodtsov looks like he could be a player to climb in rankings as the season goes on. He won’t be one to light up the scoreboard, but he plays a solid defensive game and has shown promise early on this season.
Last season, Molodtsov played for HK Dmitrov U17 and U18 teams, collecting a goal and seven points in 26 U17 games, and a goal and two assists in 20 U18 games.
There’s a good chance you haven’t heard of the young defender at this point but our scouts believe he’s one to keep an eye on this season.
Ilya Nazarov, RW, Loko Yaroslavl
Another lesser-known player, Ilya Nazarov has been catching the eyes of our scouts this season. The Russian winger for the MHL’s Loko Yaroslavl shows some promising tools in his game and is very much on our radar.
The draft-eligible prospect spent the majority of the 2019-20 season in the NMHL with Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl, putting up five goals, six assists, and 11 points in 29 games. He also played five MHL games, impressing with three goals and an assist.
The forward also played six games with the Russian U17 team, so he may continue to get looks on the National team. Either way, the prospect plays a very well-rounded game and should he find his offensive side, he’ll be a riser on draft boards.
Yeremei Shumilin, C, Loko Yaroslavl
Yeremei Shumilin was very close to being on the Players to Watch list rather than this one but hasn’t received the attention he deserves yet. The prospect has shown his skill at the international level and in league play and could be one to push into first-round conversation.
The centerman is playing with Nazarov with the MHL’s Loko Yaroslavl, after playing a full season with the team last year and impressing. In 42 games last season, he had 11 goals, nine assists, and 20 points. He also joined Buruyanov at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and the World Junior-A Hockey Challenge. He had one assist in the Hlinka, en route to a gold medal.
In 2018-19, Shumilin dressed for Traktor Chelyabinsk U17 in the Russia U17 league. In 32 games, he potted 22 goals, 32 assists and 54 points. He also played in eight U17 games internationally, adding a goal and five assists to his stat line.
Shumilin may very well be one of – if not the – best players on this list and could be among the top Russian prospects selected on draft day.
Dmitri Zugan, C, Krasnaya Armiya
Last but certainly not least, Dmitri Zugan could just be one to challenge Shumilin on this list to be the first one drafted in 2021. The Krasnaya Armiya forward is a dynamic player in all zones, making him an extremely intriguing prospect to watch this season.
In 2019-20, Zugan spent his rookie season with Krasnaya, playing 36 games, scoring four goals, adding six assists, and 10 points. He also joined Buruyanov and Shumilin at both the Hlinka and the Junior-A Hockey Challenge, collecting two assists in the Junior-A Challenge and coming away with a gold medal in the Hlinka.
The season prior, Zugan dressed for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, playing six games with no points, but helping the team to a gold medal victory. He also played in 22 games with CSKA Moskva U17 with eight goals, 11 assists, and 19 points in 22 games.
Zugan has a very intriguing toolkit that draws your eyes to him on the ice. By the time the 2021 NHL Draft rolls around, he could be in consideration for a first-round pick.