Faber: Dmitri Simashev is the best defenceman in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft
Photo credit:@_dmitrisimashev on IG
By Faber3 months ago
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Currently sitting between 10-40 on most major scouting sites’ rankings — 6’4″, left-shot defenceman Dmitri Simashev out of Russia has the potential to be the best player taken outside of the top five of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
We are looking at a 6’4″, left-shot defenceman who has to be in consideration to be one of the best skaters in the draft, and as for draft-eligible defencemen, Simashev is by and far the best skater in this year’s crop.
Simashev’s retrievals in his own zone create so much room and space because he is able to turn on a dime and uses his size to leverage space on the ice between himself and the forechecker. He not only is a great skater, but he’s tough as well. The 6’4″, 200+ pound defenceman likes to throw the body around and has some cockiness after his big hits — he often stares down the opposition after he knocks over a forward and shows his toughness around his own crease during play and immediately after a whistle.
The only worry about Simashev is the Russia factor. If he was named John Smith and was from Moose Jaw, we are looking at a defenceman who would be in everybody’s top five of this draft. He may be in a similar camp as Moritz Seider’s draft year, where Seider was ranked in the 10-25 range but ended up going sixth overall to the Detroit Red Wings. Not abiding by the scouting site rankings went very well for the Red Wings with that pick as Seider is evolving into a number one defenceman for the Red Wings and was just 21 years old last season.
Simashev has the potential to be a number one defenceman in the NHL and he has the size that we all love to see for a defenceman.
His stats don’t pop off the page in the MHL (Russia’s comparable version of the CHL) — Simashev had 18 points (three goals and 15 assists) in 43 MHL games but the more impressive thing for us was the fact that he played in 18 KHL games. 17/18-year-olds just don’t get ice time in the KHL — especially defencemen. Simashev broke the barrier there and really held his own in the KHL. This was so impressive because the KHL is likely the second-best offensive league in the world. The players that Simashev was defending against are just below NHL level and the fact that he played with confidence in the KHL just shows how good he projects to be in three years or so.
We tracked Simashev’s 18 KHL games and found that he had a very impressive 52.7% control of expected goals.
He quickly retrieved pucks, was able to find outlets with ease, and played strong defensively against some very good opposition.
He had confidence on every shift in the KHL and he should be an everyday KHLer next season — building on what he did this past year.
We were already impressed enough from the 18 KHL games but then all he did in the MHL was dominate. Against his U20 piers, Simashev was excellent. He held a 65.1% Corsi through 44 MHL games and on top of that, held a 63.2% control of expected goals scored.
Simashev is repped by super-agent Dan Milstein and with that, we expect there will be no problems for Simashev leaving Russia after his remaining two years are completed in the KHL. After he finishes his current KHL contract, we see him coming right into the NHL and more than likely hopping right into the top-four of whichever team drafts him. This player looks like he could play in the NHL right now and he is only going to improve with the help of developing with a KHL team. You’d obviously prefer to have a hand in how the player develops but should also understand that he will be with an organization that he is comfortable with and will be getting ice time in the second-best league in the world.
The part of his game we would like to see develop next is his offensive game. He has very good mechanics with his shot and it looks like that is a part of his game that could take him from very good to elite. It looks like Simashev should be shooting the puck harder than he currently is, and perhaps that comes down to breaking down your shot mechanics and tweaking a few things to generate more power. The part of his offensive game that we really like right now is his control at the blue line. If you watched both of the videos we included in this article, you can see how he walks the line in the offensive zone and creates open ice for himself of his teammates.
You just don’t see 6’4″ defencemen skate like Simashev. He moves so well on his edges and is able to explode into the neutral zone and gain enough speed between the blue lines to skate around the opposition and get to the high-danger areas of the ice. He’s only going to get stronger and more confident and that is a scary sight for teams who will pass on him in the first round.
I’ve watched a lot of David Reinbacher, Tom Willander, and Axel Sandin Pellikka, and I’ve been impressed by Simashev the most.
At this current date, he’s the best defenceman I’ve seen in the draft.
The fact that there are some parts of his game that can still improve make me think that whoever drafts this player is going to be very happy over the next two years before his NHL arrival.
If the Canucks were to draft Simashev at 11th overall, I’d be ecstatic. He has to be in the conversation with Colby Barlow, David Reinbacher, Axel Sandin Pellikka, Dalibor Dvorsky, Nate Danielson, Oliver Moore and whoever else you have around 11th overall on your list.
You won’t see any immediate return on this prospect as he won’t be joining your AHL team or playing in the NCAA or CHL but you can bet that we will wake up at 6 AM to watch him play his KHL games. There’s so much to like with this player and he fits the wants that head coach Rick Tocchet wants for his defenceman.
Simashev is the best defenceman in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and there’s a chance he slides in the draft and is selected somewhere between 10-25 — he will be a steal for whichever team selects him in the first round.
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