ALEXEI CHEREPANOV Right wing Omsk (Russia) 6-0, 183 pounds
Panther scouting director Scott Luce calls Cherepanov the “wild card of the draft.”
Rated the No. 1 European skater by Central Scouting, Cherepanov is a talented, natural scorer who is highly skilled. The problem is there’s no guarantee he’ll play in the NHL because Russia has refused to sign a new agreement regulating transfer fees from Europe to the NHL.
But Cherepanov might be a risk worth taking. His 18 goals as a rookie in 2006-07 broke Pavel Bure’s record (17) set back in 1988-89 when Bure was with the Red Army. Cherepanov’s 29 points as a 17-year-old are more than Pittsburgh’s Evgeni Malkin, Washington’s Alex Ovechkin and Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk scored in their first years in the Russian Super League.
“He a natural scorer,” said Luce of the winger, who was named the top forward at the 2007 World Junior Championships where he led all scorers with five goals (eight points) and was selected to the tournament’s all-star team.
Central Scouting says Cherepanov has “great acceleration…a quick release and can shoot at top speed…works hard at both ends of the ice and and doesn’t shy away from being hit.”