2022 NHL Draft: Russian players to watch
Every year, Russia is constantly among the world’s hockey superpowers, and this year is no exception when it comes to high-end draft talent.
Russia boasts two likely top-10 selections for the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, with the possibility that those top talents could even become top-five candidates by the season’s end. Behind the two star headliners of this Russian class is a plethora of interesting options for NHL clubs to consider in the late first round through the third or fourth rounds, many of these players being teammates on medal-winning clubs at international play.
Here are the five prospects in Russia to watch this season:
Vladimir Grudinin, D, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)
The top defenseman coming out of Russia this year is very much an honor that’s up for grabs at the moment, and Vladimir Grudinin is one candidate.
After a mere five points — all assists — in 46 games a season ago for Krasnaya Armiya in the MHL, Grudinin showcased his untapped offensive potential at the Under-18’s, where he played his way into a prominent role. In seven games en route to a silver medal, Grudinin led the team’s defense core in scoring with five points (one goal, four assists), displaying strong offensive instincts to go with his mobile puck rushing style of play.
“Grudinin is a mobile puck-moving defenseman who owns upside as a reliable and efficient power play quarterback,” Holmes noted in a report. “What was immediately eye-catching with Grudinin was his natural ability as a skater and puck mover, as he’s a very quick and nimble skater who is able to use his crossovers and edgework to quickly generate speed.”
Grudinin is a potentially under-the-radar name to watch this year as he will be looking to play his way up the draft board of NHL clubs looking for puck-moving talent on the back end.
Ilya Kvochko, C, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (MHL)
Ilya Kvochko is a playmaking two-way center who, like many of his contemporaries in the 2022 draft class, has been a regular for Russia on the international stage in recent years.
After leading all U17 skaters in assists a year ago in the MHL with 19 helpers in 48 games, Kvochko played up an age group by skating with Russia at the 2021 Under-18’s. Kvochko has also made appearances at the Youth Olympic Games and Hlinka Gretzky Cup for Russia, registering better than point-per-game performances at both tournaments en route to two golds.
“Kvochko is a defensive and playmaking center who plays with a lot of pace,” FCHockey scout Joshua Frojelin said. “He has the overall quickness to be a successful talent. Kvochko has an extremely effective and quick stick, especially defensively. In the offensive zone, his playmaking ability is his best trait. He can find teammates with open space and in dangerous scoring areas.”
Kvochko has the opportunity to play a major role for Stalnye Lisy this season and will look to build on his successful 2020-21 campaign, and perhaps even play his way into some KHL time throughout the season.
Ivan Miroshnichenko, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
A regular at the international level in recent years for Russia, Ivan Miroshnichenko projects to be among the top goal scorers and pure shooting threats available in the 2022 NHL Draft class.
Miroshnichenko has become a star for the 2004 class of Russians at the international level, captaining gold medal winning teams at both the Youth Olympic Games and Hlinka Gretzky Cup in recent years while also being a member of Russia’s silver medal squad at the Under-18’s. In his debut season in the MHL, Miroshnichenko became a reliable contributor for Omskie Yastreby with 15 points (five goals, 10 assists) in 20 games played, earning him a promotion to Avangard’s VHL club to start the 2021-22 campaign.
“His shot is NHL ready, he generates a ton of power behind his shot and has a quick release and pinpoint accuracy that will beat goalies from anywhere,” FCHockey scout Austin Broad said. “If you give him open space in the offensive zone he will make you pay.”
Miroshnichenko is signed with Avangard Omsk through the 2023-24 season and will look to make the full-time jump to the KHL in the coming years before heading to North America.
Gleb Trikozov, LW, Omskie Krylia (VHL)
A teammate of Miroshnichenko on Omskie Krylia in the VHL, Gleb Trikozov is another Avangard product to keep an eye on for the 2022 NHL Draft, as his north-south, two-way style has allowed him to become a contributor at both the MHL and international levels.
A season ago in the MHL, Trikozov finished second in U17 scoring behind only 2023 phenom Matvei Michkov with 30 points (15 goals, 15 assists) in 49 games played, proving himself capable as an offensive contributor. Trikozov rode this wave of success into the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he performed at a point-per-game pace with five points in as many games while also bringing a strong two-way presence to the ice en route to a gold medal.
“Gleb Trikozov is a smooth-skating two-way forward who was able to play a competitive north-south game effectively throughout the duration of this game,” FCHockey scout Brandon Holmes noted in a recent report. “Where Trikozov really excelled in this showing was his ability to play with pace in terms of decision-making, quick-strike ability, and puck pursuit.”
Trikozov has started the season playing minor-pro hockey against men and is also one of the younger players available in the 2022 class as a mid-August 2004 birthday.
Danila Yurov, RW, Metallurg Magnitogorsk (KHL)
If you tuned into the 2021 IIHF World Under-18 Championship this past spring, it would have been difficult to not notice the play of Danila Yurov, a competitive and skilled dual-threat winger who has become one of Russia’s top junior-aged skaters.
Yurov, who turns 18 in December, led all U18 skaters in scoring pace in the MHL during the 2020-21 season for Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk, tallying 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 23 games, which in turn earned him time in a limited role in the KHL for Metallurg. At the Under-18’s, Yurov shined on a nightly basis, finishing third on Russia in scoring with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in seven games en route to a silver finish.
“Yurov is a highly competitive, two-way forward with exceptional awareness in both ends, and the ability to drive offense,” FCHockey head crossover scout Josh Bell said. “His intelligence on the ice is extremely strong. From his positioning in both ends to his reads of passes, and this ability to take advantage of mistakes stands out in a big way.”
Yurov has started the 2021-22 season in the KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk and is currently signed with the club through the 2023 season.