Craig [Conroy] has been working hard to get him here for development camp. - Brad Treliving on Rushan Rafikov
CALGARY, AB -- Calgary Flames prospect Rushan Rafikov has been shrouded in mystery since becoming a part of the organization.
Drafted in the seventh round of the 2013 NHL Draft, the Saratov, RUS native has played a handful of games in North America during the 2013 Subway Super Series but did not make the final Russian World Junior Championship roster.
He spent the rest of the year with his MHL club, Loko Yaroslavl. The defenceman scored eight goals, 20 points, was a plus-30 and accrued 46 penalty minutes. He also dressed for seven postseason dates in the 2013-14 campaign.
That is about it for North American exposure. A few televised games and online stats.
But if all goes to plan, fans may be seeing a lot more of Rafikov in the near future.
In his pre-draft media address, general manager Brad Treliving noted the team was trying to get the rearguard to Calgary next month.
"Craig [Conroy] has been working hard to get him here for development camp," Treliving explained. "There is a visa issue, he’s having a visa issue to get into the country. To be perfectly honest, I haven’t checked on that in a few days. We’re hopeful to get him here in July."
There is also a chance that Rafikov heads to North America full-time in fall. The Russian is eligible in the CHL Import Draft, held on July 2, and if selected, he could land on a WHL, OHL, or QMJHL roster in September.
"There is always an opportunity, potentially, for him coming over," Treliving stated. "That hasn’t been a focus right now. But we’ll hopefully get him here for development camp.”
If Rafikov does make the leap to the CHL, his time at the Super Series gave him a taste of what to expect on a full-time basis.
"The level here is slightly higher than the MHL from my standpoint," Rafikov told CalgaryFlames.com through a translator last fall. "I’m pretty tired over the last games. Canadian players are more physical and quite skilled which is a little bit different from the same level in Russia."
While his immediate future is uncertain, one thing is certain; Rafikov wants to don the Flaming C.
"I’ve been always dreamed about playing in the NHL. It’s the best league in the world. That’s why everybody is coming here."