Prospects breakdown - MHL who's who (Part 1)

Following the request of our reader Jake in my latest entry, I've decided to write down some breakdown about the players to watch. Known and less known.

Let's start from the most known one, Alexander Avtsin, who plays for MHK Dinamo Moscow. The Montreal Canadiens draftee is one of the league's start, despite ending scoreless in the first MHL match he played, against Red Army. He didn't participate to the second match as he was a call-up for Dinamo's main team in a preseasonal match, confirming that he's one of the first junior players considered for a callup in a very stacked KHL team. The quick power forward, who has been often compared to Alexander Ovechkin, might play a key role in his team, but he needs to start producing after his not good first game. But well, it was only one game.

In his same team some other interesting players get good ice time. Nikita Dvurechensky is among them. Described as "a skilled winger with an excellent touch around the net and interesting finishing abilities" in an April Hockey's Future article I wrote myself, Dvurechensky already showed his stuff in the MHL start as he scored two goals and one assist in the first game, staying off the score-sheet in the second. Ranked highly enough for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, #12 among Russians in the Russian Prospects' rankings, he ended up undrafted, most likely because of the notorious problems in movements from Russia to America.

Another interesting player from MHK Dinamo is the former OHL player Vitaly Karamnov. The center, who has been in Edmonton's radar in 2007, is a playmaking center gifted with good technique and skating, who has been misteriously not drafted. Pavel Zotov, 1991-born center, is more solid and probably strongest on the faceoff dots, but is still raw and despite being a regular in Russia-91 he has been overlooked during the rankings time and consequently for the draft.

Let's remain in Moscow. CSKA-Krasnaya Armiya showcases in its lineup one of the "MHL faces", offensive defenseman Alexei Marchenko. A typical Russian defenseman, Marchenko (the stress in his surname is in the first syllab) is an average sized defenseman who might have to work on his body, but that is able to do exciting rushes end-to-end with the puck on the blade. And he can finish them too as he did in the second game of the season against MHK Dinamo, where he scored a double. He likes to play with some edge and is fairly aggressive without exaggerating, like sometimes junior players do when they want to show some aggressivity. He has definitely KHL potential, but I think that he might be considered for the 2010 NHL draft as he can develop into a NHL level powerplay quarterback.

League's topscorer, right winger Nikita Gusev is so far Krasnaya-Armiya's best player. He still has to demonstrate that he can do it throughout the whole season, but his speed, play without the puck and nose for the net are interesting features that might give him a spot in the U18 national team. CSKA's goalie Pavel Suchkov, 2011 eligible as he's a late 1992-born, is having a good start, looking better than his colleague Anton Todykov. But well, there is a reason if Suchkov is a national team player and Todykov not. Good things are expected also from small winger Sergei Barbashev, whose skill level is surely noticeable, but it had a bit of hard time in the MHL start, indicating that he needs to bulk up and mature as a player. Curiously enough, 1993-born Nikita Kucherov had an excellent start with three goals in the first two matches, way better than many of the highly touted players we talked about.

Our trip around Moscow isn't over yet as in Spartak Moscow other players worthy a mention keep on growing up in the prolific talent factory. The dynamic duo formed by 18-year old Artem Voronin and 17-years old Alexander Gogolev might be yet another offensive weapon that can cause havoc in any opposition, while the future star Alexander Khokhlachev, 1993 born, has started growing and already scored his first MHL point with an assist in MHK Spartak's win against Chaika Nizhny Novgorod. Among the three players is of course Khokhlachev the most promising one, he has everything that a forward needs, being able to count on an excellent shot, a very good technique, great skating and even a good size considering his age.

The Moscow territory counts other four teams: Atlant (Mytischi), Sherif (Balashikha), Feniks (Voskresensk), Russkie Vityazi (Chekhov) and MHK Krylya Sovetov. Atlant might have the most complete and experienced first line, if their head coach Vladimir Kucherenko will decide to ice together Pavel Chernov, Anton Lazarev and Oleg Yashin. All the three players have KHL and national junior team experience, and being the three all different kind of hockey player they might fit very well together. Pavel Chernov is a very good playmaking center with a good physical play despite a relative small size. Anton Lazarev is a quick forward with smooth skating and above average finishing abilities, Oleg Yashin is a talented winger who can put it in the back of the net if he gets the right pass. Sherif Balashikha and Feniks Voskresensk have less interesting teams, who will most likely struggle throughout the whole season, while MHK Krylya Sovetov and Russkie Vityazi has much more interesting players, especially the latter. Krylya Sovetov's 1992-born forward Ignat Zemchenko is one of the players to watch, together with his team mates Artur Ganzvind and Dmitri Gromov. Russkie Vityazi instead can count on a very good trio made up of Artemy Panarin, Petr Kopytsov and Georgi Belousov. Their team started very well the season and after three matches they top the Western Conference with six points.

For this issue it's all. The second part will follow soon with the rest of the top MHL talent.

1 comment:

  1. Alessandro - thank you for fulfilling my request. Fantastic work.

    I see that your expectations of Marchenko appear to be fairly tame (no predictions of stardom). I am hoping that he turns out to be a special player. He does seem to be small, especially going by that picture in the other article. He looks 12 in it.

    Surprised Chernov is still a junior. He should be around 19 now and will be a veteran at the WJC. Good player.

    Khokhlachev sounds awfully intriguing. Will be keeping a close eye on him (mostly via stats and articles such as this). Hoping that Grigorenko and Yakupov also make some waves.

    Look forward to part two. If you're looking for more topic ideas I would also love some thoughts on khl teenagers who have held on to pro jobs for the coming season. But I'll leave you to a breather - bombarding you with requests after a nice gesture would be awfully immodest. :)