The draft is a little ways off but it's always fun to look to the future. With the growing fear of Russians bolting for the KHL and Russian prospects deciding against playing in the NHL, teams have been increasingly passing up Russian talent in favor of safer north american, swedish, and finnish players. Since the Dallas Stars have a deep prospect system, they can afford to take risks in hopes of acquiring truly special players and the Russian factor can cause some of those players to be available later in the draft than they would otherwise. Jim Nill has shown his faith in Russian players in his time with Detroit and in his short time he has doubled the amount of Russian prospects in the system. (Although admittedly one draft pick is not necessarily a trend.) So here is a look at some Russian prospects to keep your eye on in this years draft.
Ivan Barbashev Left Shot LW 6'0.5" 185 lbs
Barbashev is a Russian born player who is currently playing for the Moncton Wildcats of the QMJHL. The fact that he has already come to North America is a good sign that he wants to play here, but it does not entirely negate the fear or drafting a Russian player. Ivan is a dynamic play making winger who can pot plenty of goals on his own. He is offensively deceptive and loves to push the tempo of a game. His one critique at this point in his career is that he is inconsistent, but that can change with age and experience. Last season he scored 18 goals and 62 points in 68 games for Moncton as a 16 year old and this year he already has 29 points in 20 games.
At this point he is projected to go anywhere from 14th to 23rd overall and I personally think he could be an absolutel steal at 14th if he keeps up his current scoring pace.
Nikolai Goldobin Left Shot RW 5'11" 178 lbs
Goldobin is a pure goal scorer. He is quick and he is deadly. The drawback is that he is small and weak against larger opposition and needs a lot of work in his own zone. Still his offense makes him an intriguing prospect worth keeping on the radar and taking a risk on if he falls in the draft. He had 30 goals and 68 points in 68 games with Sarnia last year and currently has 11 goals among 26 points in 21 games.
with his offense he could go anywhere from 10th overall to 50th due to consistency, he would be a good one for the stars to keep an eye out for in the second round.
Nikita Scherbak Left Shot LW 6'0" 172 lbs
Scherbak has flown a little under the radar compared to Goldobin and Barbashev. He has been a pleasant surprise this season for Brandon scoring 12 goals and 30 points in 21 games in his first season with Saskatoon. Last season he scored 7 goals and 7 assists in the MHL and was a relatively unknown commodity. Most outlets have him listed as 6'0" but some have him at 6'2" so even that is relatively unknown to the majority of hockey fans. Fans say he has good size and speed and plays a similar game to former Saskatoon blade and Dallas prospect Matej Stransky. He has adapted well to the NA game and has earned himself an invite to play on the Russian team at the SUBWAY series tournament
Craig Button has him as #23 over all but most outlets don't even have him on their radar so it is hard to project where he might go. Worth keeping an eye on in the early rounds this year. Would be a great pickup in the second round.
In further installments I will take a look at