During the 1980s, in the height of the Cold War, players from the Soviet Union were unable to leave Russia to come to the NHL.
Between 1980 and 1987, only 14 Russian players were selected in the NHL Draft. National Hockey League teams knew these talents may never arrive in North America. In 2021, there were 29 Russian-born players taken.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is again unclear if Russian players will be able to leave Russia to play in North America.
While the impact on the 2022 NHL Draft is more pressing, If the issue continues into 2023, serious questions will be raised about budding superstar and top prospect for the 2023 draft, Matvei Michkov.
For the time being, here are the top Russian prospects for the 2022 NHL Draft who could see their positioning plummet as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the subsequent consequences continue to build:
Danila Yurov - The impact for a player like Yurov could be drastic. The #3 ranked European skater by NHL Central Scouting, and a consensus Top 10 pick, Yurov had failed to produce in the KHL this season, albeit in a very reduced capacity, but was scoring at more than a point per game with Magnitogorsk of the MHL, Russia’s top Junior loop. A spectacular skater, Yurov could be a player stuck or restricted to playing in Russia for the foreseeable future. A 6-foot-1 winger, Yurov would have been a key component of Russia’s entry at this summer’s World Junior championships.
Ivan Miroshnichenko - Another potential Top 10 pick, Miroshnichenko’s health will be as involved in draft discussions as the war. Miroshnichenko was recently diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and could miss all of next season. If any Russian player could experience a steep drop from the first round, it’s Miroshnichenko. His health and well being will be the primary concern for all, but any NHL team with multiple first or second round picks could pick up a steal by using their extra selection on Miroshnichenko who blends speed and power up front. He was #8 among European Skaters as ranked by NHL Central Scouting at the midterm.
Alexander Perevalov - As The Hockey News’ Ryan Kennedy stated, “with his combination of elite offensive skill and determination, Perevalov will be one to watch for years to come.” Whether we are watching Perevalov in Russia or North America however, is yet to be determined. Perevalov was considered a mid-to-late first round prospect, another elite scorer coming from Russia, who was a key contributor for Russia’s Hlinka-Gretzky Cup gold medal team. Will he stay with Yaroslavl, or is there a way for Perevalov to come to North America? At the midterm, Perevalov was NHL Central Scouting’s 10th ranked European prospect.
Pavel Mintyukov - Of Russia’s first-round prospects, Mintyukov is the least likely to feel the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. That is because the 6-foot-2 defender is already in North America. He has put up spectacular numbers for the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit and is a Top 20 prospect listed as the #5 North American skater by Central Scouting. He looks like a power-play anchor for decades to come at the NHL level.
Gleb Trikozov - Strong in his puck pursuit with speed enabling him to quickly transition and create space, Trikozov is another Russian with early round talent. He had a point per game for Russia at the Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, and followed it up this season with well over a point per game for Omskie Yastreby in the MHL. Unlike the others on this list, Trikozov is already a few years away from being NHL ready. Perhaps his positioning will be less impacted by the knowledge that he’ll need to stay in Russia to develop whether peace is struck or not.
Other Russian prospects of note: Artyom Duda, Kirill Dolzhenkov, Vladimir Grudinin, Arseni Koromyslov, Viktor Neuchev, Daniil Orlov, Vladimir Grudinin, Artyom Barabosha, Maxim Barbashev, Maxim Arefyev, Dmitri Buchelnikov, Yefim Belykh.