NHL Draft: Russia Defense

Draft Sites

Player League PPG DOB H S
Oleg Sosunov (D) MHL B 0.31 4/13/1998 6’8 L
Yegor Zaitsev (D) VHL 0.06 5/3/1998 6′ L
Artur Shepelkov (D) MHL 0.00 5/6/1998 6’2 L
Yegor Rykov (D) KHL 0.10 4/14/1997 6’2 L
Ivan Kovalyov (D) MHL 0.15 4/27/1998 6’1 L
Dmitri Alexeyev (D) MHL 0.33 2/17/1998 5’11 L
Alexander Yakovenko (D) MHL 0.24 2/22/1998 5’10 L
Ilya Karpukhin (D) MHL 0.15 7/13/1998 6’1 L
Nikita Zhuldikov (D) KHL 0.13 8/16/1996 6’3 L
Nadir Islyamov (D) MHL 0.05 12/4/1997 6’2 L
Denis Tolpegin (D) MHL 0.29 3/23/1998 6’2 L
Kristaps Zile (D) KHL 0.10 12/24/1997 6’1 L
Ilya Lobanov (D) MHL 0.21 12/1/1996 6’6 L

Oleg Sosunov (D) (150 – 200)

  • Sosunov is a 6’8, yes 6 feet 8 inches, and is likely a work in progress.  Your standard risk/reward pick.  He needs to work on his skating, he’s not overly physical & he doesn’t bring much offense to the table but he could be a solid mid-late round pick.
  • Hockey Prospectus: While he needs to work on pretty much everything, his size alone makes him an interesting prospect for NHL teams. He has a lot of raw potential, and some good coaching can turn him into a promising defensive defenseman at pro level.

Yegor Zaitsev (D) (100 – 150)

  • Zaitsev is  a puck moving defenseman, he played in the VHL (which is a pro league in Russia and did well) in the MHL he averaged .55 Points per game.
  • NSA Hockey:  A talented two-way d-man with great hockey sense and vision, skating, hands and mobility. Safe in defense. Strong positionally. Owns good anticipation, reads the play pretty well.   Takes right decisions quickly. A smart player. Can play tough and hit his men either along the board and in the corners, or in center ice. Can give a good breaking pass out of his zone. Possesses good offensive upside. Plays both in PP and PK units. Has much ice time. Creative in offense. Good hockey sense, quickness, high IQ and good hands makes him dangerous for the opponents, especially in PP. Has character.

Yegor Rykov (D) (100 – 150)

  • Rykov is a second year draft eligible defenseman with good size.  He split the year between, MHL (.5 PPG in 20 games),  VHL (.2 PPG in 10 games) and MHL.  He also put up 3 points in 7 games at the world juniors.
  • BSN Denver: Rykov is a big left-handed defender who both skates and passes well. He generates turnovers and clogs up opponents’ lanes well, generally getting himself in the way however he can. His passing talent sees him on the scoresheet often enough with assists and he has leadership experience as well, wearing an A for Ska-1946 St. Pete and a C for the 2014-15 Russian U18s. His rankings are all over the place, but there are certainly worse pick-ups in the fourth or fifth round, where he averages out.

Dmitri Alexeyev (D) (100 – 150)

  • Alexeyev doesn’t posses great size but he’s got a good two-way skill-set that could be worth a late round gamble.
  • Hockey Prospectus:  Alexeyev has a good hockey IQ and can read the play with good efficiency. He knows how to position himself at both ends, and is hard to get caught off guard. He tries to be offensive in his style, without forgetting his defensive responsibilities. He is also a leader and has served as captain or alternate captain in many occasions, both for his club and national team.

Alexander Yakovenko (D) (150 – 200)

  • Yakovenko was an honorable mention in Damien Cox’s November draft rankingsHockey’s Future mentioned that Yakovenko was on par with Sergachev and stated, ‘Yakovenko is an interesting defensive prospect with good offensive and defensive skills, but he needs to bulk up while improving his consistency and positional play.
  • McKeen’s Played a ton of minutes on the back end for Team Russia, however his play was rather ordinary on the whole .. his puck skills are slightly better than average – but he only showed occasional the flash of skills .. mostly played within his limits at the line as he locates the first option and utilizes it .. his game is not flashy; more efficient .. plays both speciality teams .. showed okay jump, however his skating is not blinding .. might be more of a long shot to get drafted based on his performance at this event.

Ilya Karpukhin (D) (150 – 200)

The Draft Analyst:

      Puck-moving bomber with excellent mobility and the ability to run a power play. Yakovenko’s numbers may not jump off the screen, but he was one of Russia’s more reliable backliners and an obvious choice for a team lacking in the possession game. He sports a very hard shot and whips his breakout passes with accuracy, but at times can be a little too aggressive and tries to force the puck through rather than take a second or two and let things transpire. His lateral movement and edge work are solid, and while he isn’t blindingly fast going North to South, he has a long enough stride to catch up and even things out. Yakovenko isn’t physical — it’s not his role nor style — but his slot coverage and stick-use is competent enough to make up for his shortcomings in length and upper body strength. If there are two things that help him stand out among most of his peers, it’s making accurate, decisive passes on the power play, and his ability to prevent pucks from exiting the offensive zone.

Kristaps Zile (D) (100 – 150)

  • The Latvian defender Zile is a late riser on the draft list.  He had a strong MHL season 22 points in 37 games (.59 PPG) and was added to Central Scouting list.
  • The Pup Profiles:  Zile excels as a puck mover and leader of the breakout. His first pass is excellent, and he reads movement well. He has excellent strength in his missile-like passes, and his vision is far above average.


Long Shots:

  • Artur Shepelkov (D) – Shepelkov has good size was rated 35 among European players by Central scouting.  He likely projects as a stay at home defenseman.
  • Ivan Kovalyov (D) is a 6’1 defenseman who doesn’t have much offense.  He’s rated as the 41st European in Central Scouting rankings.
  • Nikita Zhuldikov (D) is a big physical defender that put up decent numbers in the KHL this past season.  He could be worth a late round flyer.
  • Nadir Islyamov (D) has good size but doesn’t bring much offense to the table.
  • Denis Tolpegin (D) has good size and offensive production in the KHL he might be worth a late round pick.  I could not find a scouting report for him.
  • Ilya Lobanov (D) big Kazakhstan defender is in his second draft eligible season and had a good year in the Russian junior league.

Additional Thoughts:

There has been roughly 10 – 12 Russian defenders since the inception of the KHL in 2008.  Most defenseman selected averaged above .25 PPG in their first MHL season. Therefore using this as a guideline here are my five defenseman in alphabetical order that should be considered for this draft.

  1. Dmitri Alexeyev
  2. Yegor Rykov
  3. Denis Tolpegin
  4. Yegor Zaitsev
  5. Kristaps Zile





One thought on “NHL Draft: Russia Defense

  1. Pingback: NHL Draft: Defenseman | Oiler's Future

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