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Getting to Know: Denis Smirnov

Forward talks about getting drafted by the Avs and his first development camp

by Matt Shwayder /

Denis Smirnov was the 156th selection of the sixth round in the 2017 NHL Draft, which was held June 23-24, at United Center in Chicago.

Smirnov, a native of Moscow, Russia, spent much of his teenage years in the United States. He first played youth hockey in Pennsylvania before spending three seasons in the United States Hockey League. This past season, he had 19 goals and 28 assists (47 points) as a freshman with the Penn State Nittany Lions in the Big Ten. He was named to the conference's All-Freshman Team and helped Penn State win the Big Ten Tournament championship. 

He recently talked with about being drafted and getting ready for the upcoming season.

How did you hear you that were drafted by the Avalanche?

"I got a FaceTime call from one of my best friends back in Russia."


Why do you think you had so much success in your freshman year at Penn State.

"I think as a family, we pulled the same way. Every guy knew his role and knew what he needed to do to make the team better. The support we had from students, booster club, our town, our college was big for us."


What is your favorite hockey memory?

"Probably winning the Big Ten championship."


Video: Smirnov talks about Avs Development Camp


Who do you try to model your game after?

"Evgeni Malkin mostly, but obviously I'm not his size. So probably Patrick Kane would be my guy."


Who influenced you to play hockey?

"My parents mostly, but then how interesting the game is and what a team is. To be a part of a team is already special."


What are your goals for the upcoming season?

"I want to develop my game in all aspects. Try to be better day by day and hopefully win national championship for Penn State."


Favorite TV show?

"Friday Night Lights."


Favorite Movie?

"I would say Happy Gilmore."


Do you have any pregame routines or superstitions?

"I always put on my left side of my gear first, do the same routine for warmup on the ice and off the ice with some handshakes before the game. I talk to my parents before games, too."


Favorite pregame meal?

"It's different year by year. Two years ago, it was Chipotle. My first year of juniors it was really random, I could eat Panda Express before a game and somehow play 60 minutes.


Most used app on your phone?

"Probably Instagram or Snapchat."


Biggest Fear?

"Snakes. I don't want to think about that."


Beverage of choice?

"Iced tea, sweetened"


Favorite Holiday?

"New Years. It's really different in Russia from America. It's the biggest holiday in Russia. You get together, do fireworks when it hits midnight, eat a lot of food. Then Santa comes to your house and brings presents."


What is your favorite Russian saying?

"Zhivi vek, uchis' stoletiyu."

Translated: "Live a century, learn a century."


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