Player: Valentin Zykov
Drafted By: Los Angeles Kings (37th overall)
Position: Left Wing
Final Central Scout Ranking: No. 7 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6’0”, 209 lbs
DOB: May 15, 1995 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: QMJHL, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
Virtually unknown until he made the move from his hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia to Baie-Comeau, Quebec, Zykov scored 40 goals and tallied 75 points in 67 games during his first and only season in the QMJHL. He also got some valuable postseason experience, scoring 10 goals and assisting nine times in 19 playoff games for Baie-Comeau.
By coming overseas to play in the Q, Zykov is sending the message that he would rather play in the NHL than stay home and play in the rival KHL. Safe to say, this is a welcomed notion to hockey fans throughout North America.
Full Scouting Report
A pretty-well rounded player, Zykov’s biggest asset may be his size. At 6’0”, 209 pounds, he is already built like an NHL player and has room to grow.
“He has a body built for smaller North American rinks,” writes John Vogl of The Buffalo News. “Though Russian, scouts view him as a prototypical Canadian power forward who likes to crash the net. He is tough to knock off the puck and wins battles along the boards.”
He pretty much has it all: He has an impressive shot, can obliterate opponents with a body check and has an incredible hockey IQ.
“He is a skilled player, showing nice touch with the puck,” writes Corey Pronman of Hockey Prospectus. “He is able to make plays in tight spaces, flashing high-end skill at times. He can distribute the puck at a quality level, showing quick decision-making, with good offensive instincts.”
The knack against Zykov, however, is his skating ability. Rated as a C skater in Central Scouting’s original rankings, many front office people are going to be wary of taking him with a top-10 pick. The team that grabs him, however, may get a steal if he develops well in their minor league system.
NHL Player Comparison
Michael Ryder of the Montreal Canadiens. Both are large power forwards who can snipe goaltenders as well as play well in their own end.
Zykov will make an NHL roster as soon as his skating improves. He will continue to grow and learn the game and has plenty of raw tools. Expect him in the NHL by the 2014-15 season at the earliest, although he may need an additional year on top of that.
At his best, Zykov will become Simon Gagne. At his worst, his skating never improves, the NHL game moves too fast for him and he ends up struggling to find a job in the league. He is a high-risk, high-reward pick at this point.