Player: Vlad Kamenev
Drafted By: Nashville Predators (42nd overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 13 international skater
Height/Weight: 6'2'', 203 lbs
DOB: August 12, 1996 (17 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: KHL, Magnitogorsk Metallurg
You're going to turn some heads when you debut in a professional league at the tender age of 17. That's what Vlad Kamenev did this season, though, appearing in 16 games at the KHL level. He didn't play a major role with Magnitogorsk Metallurg, but that's because they're one of the top squads in the KHL.
It's rare to see teenagers being counted on as impact players for high-end NHL franchises, so it makes sense that Kamenev played less than seven minutes a night on a championship caliber team. Still, NHL scouts got to see him compete in what is arguably the second-best hockey league in the world.
Kamenev didn't only play in 16 games in the KHL this year, however. He represented Russia at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament and appeared in the U18 tourney as well.
Full Scouting Report
Looking at Kamenev's frame, stature and playing style, it's easy to see why some scouts are reminded of 2013 Dallas Stars first-round pick, Valeri Nichushkin. The current KHLer doesn't have the same upside as the current Star, but he still projects as a power forward capable of getting the puck to the net at the NHL level.
Aaron Vickers of FutureConsiderations.Ca described the Russian center like this back in November:
Kamenev is a talented forward with good sized who uses his physical gifts to protect the puck and win board battles. He sees the ice well, has good hands and a strong shot. Has to keep his emotions in check as he can get overzealous taking stupid penalties at times.
Kamenev continued to turn heads over the course of the year, and made Ryan Kennedy's prospect hot list in February. As per The Hockey News:
Big, talented and not afraid to throw his weight around, Kamenev has three points in his past two games for Stalnye Lisy. The 6-foot-2 pivot has split his time between the Russian junior club team and the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk this season, getting in 16 games with the big squad.
While he's not considered a tier-one talent in the draft, he's still an intriguing option due to his NHL-ready size and willingness to battle for the puck.
NHL Player Comparison
The lazy comparison here would be a poor (poor, poor) man's Evgeni Malkin, but Kamenev just doesn't have offensive instincts like "Geno." That's fine, as few forwards in the NHL do. What Kamenev has going for him is that he could easily slot into a checking-line role because of his defensive awareness.
Think David Backes here, just with less offensive upside.
Players that can earn some good money in the KHL (understandably) can take a bit longer to make it to the NHL than some of their counterparts. Even if you don't consider that, Kamenev could still use some extra developmental time elsewhere.
The earliest we should see him in the NHL is the 2015-16 campaign, but there's a good chance he's more than two years out if he's going to be counted on as a top-six option.
High quality defensive centers that can also score some goals are a precious commodity in the NHL. It's that combination that makes centers like Anze Kopitar and Pavel Datsyuk so special. Kamenev won't ever score like those two, but he could evolve into a Backes-like player.
Good for 15 or 20 goals, while playing a responsible brand of hockey in all three zones.