Photo Credit: MHL

What the Vancouver Canucks have in Russian centre prospect Dmitri Zlodeyev

With their sixth-round pick in this year’s draft, the Vancouver Canucks went with a Russian centre who is captaining an MHL team over in Russia’s major junior league.

That young man is Dmitri Zlodeyev, a 5’11” centre who makes the sport of hockey look like a lot of fun.

There’s a certain way that Zlodeyev attacks the net that just makes you want to see what he will do next.

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His hand-eye coordination is at a very high level and he doesn’t think the game like a lot of players. He is very creative with the ways to get the puck past goaltenders. He is always in front of goaltenders while on the powerplay and tries to get his stick on everything.

Shoutout to PFR on YouTube for this clip

Zlodeyev has not reached the KHL yet in his hockey career. He has made it up to the VHL for five games to go with his nine MHL games. In those five VHL games Zlodoyev has three goals and is quickly making a robust impression as an 18-year-old. The VHL is a minor league for the KHL, a similar equivalent to the North American AHL. The MHL in Russia is comparable to Major Junior in Canada.

Craig Button of TSN is very high on Zlodeyev, he recently was on a podcast where he compared Zlodeyev’s game to Dallas Stars centre Radek Faska, who was a first round draft pick in 2012. Button would go on to say that Zlodeyev is a guy who isn’t ultra skilled in any department but always knows what he needs to do to be successful. He later praises Zlodeyev’s hockey sense and said he is a really solid player who is capable of having a long NHL career.

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He plays a strong two-way game and is committed to hustling in the defensive zone. These are things that I’m sure the Canucks scouts were loving when watching tape on this guy.

He’s a quick skater who uses his stick at the right times in the defensive zone.

Zlodeyev is the first centre out to kill penalties for his MHL team. He does a good job of getting in the passing and shooting lanes.

One final thing that stuck out in his two-way game was good he was in the faceoff circle. He gets extremely low in his stance for draws and does a good job having some strength behind each blade movement. He appears to be at another level in the faceoff dot compared to those in his league.

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Right now he is currently second on his MHL team in ice-time, only trailing the leader by 12 seconds a game. There’s something about the way that this kid plays that makes me see something similar to what Button sees. He plays the game with a different approach to generating offence. It’s an active awareness of where the puck is coming from and where the goalie is going. He can find the openings in a goaltender by being aware enough to find the best attacking area in front of the net.

There’s a real long way to go for Zlodeyev but for now, he is very interesting, to say the least. He was as a real home run swing early in the draft for the Canucks and when he was available in the sixth round they decided to take a swing on the two-way centre.

So far, so good.

We will continue to follow Zlodeyev’s progression through the MHL season.

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