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Chinakhov adds young skill to Blue Jackets depth chart

First-round pick in 2020 has showcased his shot, scoring abilities, speed overseas

by Jeff Svoboda @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com

Yegor Chinakhov is a secret no more. 

A few months after the Blue Jackets' first-round pick in the 2020 draft stumped NHL experts -- "I do not know who Yegor Chinakhov is," The Hockey News draft analyst Ryan Kennedy, for one, tweeted -- Chinakhov has added some impressive notches to his resume.  

The 20-year-old forward has played for Russia at the World Junior Championships, and he became a key cog on a champion, playing a big role for the Avangard Omsk team that just captured the KHL's Gagarin Cup championship. 

And now, after signing a three-year entry-level deal, Chinakhov is a Blue Jacket. Having won a title for his hometown team, come next year, the exciting winger will take on a new challenge by donning the union blue and trying to make it in the NHL.  

So, what do Blue Jackets fans have in store when Chinakhov hits the ice? He tallied 10 times in 32 regular-season games with Avangard and added five goals in 21 games in the postseason, including four in Omsk's second-round series win against Metallurg Magnitogorsk. That's with missing some time this year with a lower-body injury suffered at the World Juniors. 

"I think he has a very high skill level, great on-ice awareness, he can see the ice, make plays, he has good one-on-one skills and a tremendous shot," Columbus general manager Jarmo Kekalainen said when the pick was made. "He has a lot of different qualities that we think are going to translate to the North American game and the NHL game, and that's why we drafted him where we did and that's why we had him so high on our list."  

And a look at some of Chinakhov's highlights from the KHL can show just what he can bring to the table at the NHL level. 

That Shot 

The best shot in the world right now is the one that vaccinates against coronavirus, but Chinakhov's might not be that far behind. 

Simply put, he has a cannon, a perfect metaphor for someone joining the Blue Jackets. For example, take a look at his goal that was Avangard's first in the Gagarin Cup final, as he was able to beat the CSKA goalie from long distance thanks to the velocity on his shot. 

Tweet from @khl_eng: Yegor Chinakhov rifles first goal of 2021 #GagarinCupFinal! pic.twitter.com/pFaUqL9w0S

For those who followed Chinakhov this year, it's not a huge surprise to see him score in such a manner. Many of his tallies were on rockets simply blown by goalies, who were left with little chance to stop those lasers. 

Tweet from @khl: 19-������������ �������� �������������� ���������� ���������������� ��� ������ 5-�� ���������� �� 5 ������������������ ����������! pic.twitter.com/F1D6zxhT0y

Tweet from @khl_eng: Yegor Chinakhov? Yeah, that Russian winger with 5 goals in past 5 games. pic.twitter.com/cOyRnE9msF

If you're a fan, those highlights have to be pretty exciting to watch. 

Good hands, too 

He also has some pretty good hands from in tight, as this goal from a stint with the Russian national team will attest.  

Tweet from @StevenEllisTHN: #CBJ prospect Yegor Chinakhov makes it 5-1 for Russia off of this great breakaway effort.Ilja Safonov sent him down the ice for this one. #U20 #KarjalaCup pic.twitter.com/NCUW1Tk7PC

Here's another highlight from Chinakhov from the Gagarin Cup, as he did not score on this move vs. CSKA, but he created quite a dangerous opportunity with his puckhandling, highlighting Kekalainen's comment about his one-on-one skills. 

Tweet from @khl: ��������, ��������. �������������� ������������������ �������������� ��������.#������������������������������������ pic.twitter.com/Qv7Eq7vIaf

Considering his youth, 15 goals in 53 KHL games, playing against professionals in Europe's top league, is a pretty impressive number. The No. 1 thing that Chinakhov will bring to the table down the road is the ability to score. 

Not bad wheels, either  

Chinakhov won't be all about scoring, though. Watch this highlight from the Gagarin Cup in which the winger speeds back on defense and then uses his body to break up a potential CSKA scoring chance. 

Tweet from @hcavangardomsk: ������������, ���� �� ������������ ������������������������ ��� ������ ������������������ �������� �������������� 💥 pic.twitter.com/JFAnIJmLHB

From that clip, it's clear Chinakhov has a pretty high gear when he gets going. One thing that also stands out from watching a few Avangard games, though it's hard to find highlights, is that he's adept at forcing turnovers and getting the puck going the right direction as well. 

With Chinakhov trying to adapt his game to the highest level, there will be some growing pains for sure given his youth. But it's hard not to get excited about what the Russian youngster brings to the table now that he's signed with Columbus.

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