Inside the Senate will be taking a look at 40 prospects ahead of the Entry Draft on June 30. Up next is Valentin Zykov...
There are always questions when a European player comes to North America and plays on the smaller ice. Valentin Zykov erased those questions very quickly.
When Zykov joined the Baie-Comeau Drakkar at the beginning of this season, not much was expected of him offensively. A year ago he recorded 11 points and 105 penalty minutes in 52 games with CSKA Moscow’s junior circuit team. As it turns out, the small ice may be just the thing Zykov needed to launch his stock. In his first QMJHL season, Zykov led all rookies in scoring with 40 goals and 35 assists, with another 10 goals and nine assists in 19 playoff games. His efforts earned him both QMJHL and CHL rookie of the year honours.
At 6-feet, 210 pounds it’s easy to see why Zykov’s game has translated to North American hockey so well. He’s an immense player for his age who uses his size well to hold on to the puck and generate offence. His shot comes with a quick release and an understanding of how to finish. What’s more, he is noted as a quality backchecker and likes throwing his weight around.
The primary concern with Zykov’s game is his skating. He doesn’t have a particularly noticeable burst and can take a while to get going downhill. As the speed of play increases with difficulty, he’ll need that extra gear to generate space between himself and defenders, as well as gain access to the dangerous zones around the net. Moreover, despite his great season, Zykov is ultimately a raw player and, given that his output was a surprise, his ceiling is unknown. The team that takes him will have some work to do in rounding him into form.
There is plenty to like about Zykov’s game and his plethora of intangibles will certainly entice a team relatively early. He has the makeup of a quality scoring power forward at the NHL level on a second line. With that in mind, he will be a project for the team that takes him and the uncertainty surrounding Russian players could also cause his stock to fall.
Expect to see Zykov taken anywhere between the mid-first round and early second, depending on how large those question marks loom for NHL teams.
|More from Inside the Senate:|