By Tyler Ballesteros-Willard

The Russian class of NHL Draft eligible players for 2024 as started to show extra fire power depth wise with speed and excitement for this European class as a whole. There is elite NHL talent worthy from rankings 3-20 and unique depth goal scoring ability in the later rounds who may have the potential to become a reliable middle-6 winger as similar to an Ondrej Palat of the future by becoming a Stanley Cup champion.

At the beginning part of this super exciting season in the KHL as well as the MHL, many players have started to truly accel at their game and rose up in the rankings with highly impressive performances that may never be forgotten by their peers. Others however due to lack of confidence, development, and consistency in their game have plummeted their potential to become NHL worthy.

Starting as the highest stone of the draft ladder is SKA-1946 Russian phenom Ivan Demidov. Before his unfortunate injury that happened very recently which will need him to take some time off, Demidov has taken the KHL by storm demonstrating that he is considered to be the most talented and electrifying player that SKA has to offer. At DraftPro, we have him ranked 3rd, but if he comes back and throws a huge bang of production at the KHL level, there is absolutely a chance where he may be selected over USNTDP goal scoring star Cole Eiserman.

Factors that may keep him 3rd would potentially be him having obtained that crucial injury and still the unfortunate events involving Russia at this moment. That being said, there is no doubt about it will the offensive assets he has involving his allusive skating with his fiercely quick hands, he may become a consistent 85+ point scorer in the NHL at the very least.

Before his time with SKA in the KHL, Demidov in the MHL had 62 points in 41 games, 43 of which were assists as it shows in his creative problem solving like mind.

Next up in the elite for the Russians is defensive star Anton Silayev. When discussing his development, Silayev is considered nothing but special for Torpedo as his arsenal of defensive abilities is considered world class. Similar to his counter part Dmitri Simashev, Anton at 6’7 is considered to be one of the smoother skaters of this draft class.

For this class, we have him ranked 19th at the moment after Charlie Elick of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Do not let this be a deceiving factor as Silayev may get picked way earlier if he continues to strongly develop with Torpedo in the KHL as he is considered to be one of their most steady defensemen.

The difference however that Silayev has over Simashev is that he has more offensive upside than Simashev. Silayev has the huge desire to let that puck rip from the point more so than Simashev does as he focuses a lot on his defensive ability.

If Simashev was selected 6th overall due to his unique size and style of play, then no doubt about it that Anton Silayev can absolutely be a top 10 pick and be a future top 2 defenseman of a Stanley Cup winning NHL team as from an overall standpoint may be one of if not, the biggest riser of the 2024 NHL draft as he continues to build his incredible stock.

Other 2024 NHL Draft eligible Russian prospects who have seen their draft stock develop or decline throughout the first part of the season will be highlighted below. Even though the 1st half of the season has already been completed, there is so much hockey left to be played which these youngsters can change their development progress in a hurry.

Igor Chernyshov of Dynamo Moskva in the MHL has considered to be a very consistent player of this draft class as he is a desirable top 6 2-way forward of an NHL team seeking stability in the offensive category. His awareness in all areas of the ice is considered to be phenomenal. As much as he can be an offensive threat when shooting the puck and drawing players in due to his strong puck protection, he is considered even better without the puck as he wins a lot of faceoffs, he sacrifices a lot to block shots but what is scary is that he can pickpocket a player in a nick of time due to his active mind. Playing in the MHL, he’s been dominating the two-way game as right now he is almost a point per game at this moment in time.

Next in the group of Russian eligibles is Nikita Artamonov who plays with Anton Silayev in Torpedo of the KHL. From an overall standpoint, he has been impressive and shows great development in his offensive abilities has he is one of the smaller risers in the 2nd round. The way that he can just handle the biscuit and make the right plays at the right time along with his agile skating ability has helped him push his way up the rankings amongst the other forwards. His scoring prowess has helped him differentiate from all of the other playmakers of this draft as he shows an unpredictable arsenal, and it shows in his productivity in the KHL as he has 13 points in 25 games as a 17 year old. The only aspect that is slowing him down which he needs to develop is his defensive game if he wants to be an excelling player at the NHL level which is why he has not risen crazy.

Artyom Krikunenko has truly been one of the more satisfying risers of this year’s draft. Even though he is one of the smaller players on Loko Yaroslav in the MHL, he is certainly one of the more productive and hidden players of this year’s draft class. His passing ability is what really highlights Artyom’s game as he is so good at making hard accurate passes looking like feathers and has the eyes of a jumping spider as he understands the language of where his teammates will be due to his strong anticipation skills. Yes, he may be small, but his marksmanship abilities are also underrated as they can be quick lasers. In the 15 games he played for Loko 76 Yaroslav, Krikunenko has 4 goals, 12 assists which at this stage, is highly impressive. If he can improve his defensive awareness by a small portion and get stronger, he will for sure be a powerplay specialist.

When discussing about defensive defensemen, Matvei Shuravin properly fits that list even though there are some minor inconsistencies in his skating. The Armiya defenseman has showed reasons why he excels in his game as he shows really good defensive awareness and physicality. His inconsistency in the offensive zone unfortunately does not help his case and will need to be better at anticipating where his teammates will be as well as understand how to pinch better in the defensive end. Similar to Ben Chiarot, Matvei Shuravin can absolutely be a top 6 penalty killing defenseman, but if he wants to truly grow his stock, he will need to improve his offensive instincts.

As a reliable all around forward who can be a potential steal of a draft pick is Yegor Graf on SKA 1946 in the MHL. When discussing his stock, he has shown tremendous prowess in both ends on the ice as he is practically a point per game player at this moment being. With his strong mind in the way he thinks the game as well as his goal scoring mentality, Yegor is showing why his draft stock is consistent offensively, however even though he is considered a two-way player, he will need to improve his faceoff game as a centerman. Other than those minor inconsistencies, he may absolutely become a responsible depth goal scoring center on the 3rd line similar to a Nick Bonino like player.

The main faller of this draft from the Russians is unfortunately Alexander Shen of Mamonty Yugry. Even though his main role is to be a checking defensive player, his offensive upside has been very lacking. He has a good defensive mind and he is willing to sacrifice the body by throwing checks and blocking shots, but the truth is, the way he has been producing in the MHL at only under a half point per game pace has been lacking for his development. Yes he is only 17 years of age but if he cannot improve his offensive output, then the chances are for him becoming a key NHL player has decreased dramatically.