Draft Prospects: 2021 Kharlamov Cup Final (Loko Yaroslavl)
Steve Kournianos | 4/26/2021 | [hupso]
NASHVILLE (The Draft Analyst) — Dynamo Moscow’s junior team beat Loko Yaroslavl in five games to take home their first ever championship in the 12-year history of the MHL’s Kharlamov Cup Playoffs. Led by the goaltending of Vadim Zherenko and momentum-changing plays throughout the series, the title run by JHC Dynamo MSK (Junior Hockey Club Dynamo Moscow) validated a dominant regular season in which they owned the league’s best record and swept each of their first three playoff rounds before dispatching the MHL’s No. 2 team in the final.
Both lineups contained notable prospects who are either in their first year of draft eligibility or are overagers who have already been passed over at least once. In total, over 20 draft-eligible prospects participated in this highly-competitive, five-game series, and their individual performances were assessed on a shift-to-shift basis throughout the final round. Below you’ll find profiles on several prospects from Loko Yaroslavl to keep an eye on for the upcoming NHL draft.
Dynamo MSK goalie Vadim Zherenko puts on a show, stopping 30 shots in regulation and overtime, plus all six in the shootout. Alexander Kisakov opens the scoring in the second period with a nasty wrister from the right circle on the power play. Loko forced overtime in the third period thanks a picture-perfect weave and shot fake by Stepan Nikulin to freeze Zherenko before roofing it. Dynamo MSK held the territorial advantage in this physical affair.
Dynamo MSK jumps out to a great start on an early goal by Ivan Didkovskiy but Loko responds minutes later after a power entry and wrister by Ilya Chefanov that beats Zherenko high to the blocker. Dynamo MSK takes the lead shortly thereafter as Vladislav Mikhailov swipes in a loose puck along the goal mouth. Zherenko made the lead stand up with several key saves in the second half of a scoreless second period, but it was his sliding stop on Ruslan Abrosimov six minutes into the final frame that changed the outcome, as Dynamo MSK then countered with an insurance goal from defender Yegor Alanov. Dynamo MSK takes a 2-0 series lead to Yaroslavl.
Loko dominated a scoreless first period and in that frame held Dynamo MSK to a series-low four shots on goal, although each team hit a post. Abrosimov and Nikulin then combined on the power play to give Loko their first lead of the series, with Nikulin again faking Zherenko down and wristing one over his glove hand as Nikita Kiryanov supplied the screen in front. Loko owned the neutral zone from that point forward and received a critical insurance goal later in the stanza, as Nikulin pressured Alanov into a turnover and Abrosimov banked it in off Zherenko from behind the net. Dynamo MSK made it interesting in the third period when defenseman Vasily Machulin jumped in and fed Nikita Lukhovskoi for a slam dunk, but Yegor Gorshkov made brilliant saves to rob Trineyev during a five-minute power play and Maxim Beryozkin scored into the empty net to seal Loko’s first win of the series.
Dynamo MSK responds with its best defensive effort of the series in a pivotal Game 4, but the game was scoreless until late in the first period. A turnover by Loko Yaroslavl defenseman Daniil Misyul (pictured) was taken by Oleg Zaitsev, who fed Yegor Bryzgalov for the one-timer past Gorshkov and a 1-0 lead. Dynamo MSK winger Dmitri Rashevsky took control of the game from that point, initiating multiple odd-man rushes with Daniel Gutik until scoring himself in the second period to make it 2-0. Alexander Daryin redirected a Yegor Manin point-feed late in the second to cut Dynamo MSK’s lead in half, but Rashevsky helped put the game away in the third when he stripped Gorshkov of the puck and fed Mikhailov for a backbreaking short-handed goal. Didkovskiy clinched it a few minutes later with a wraparound, as Dynamo MSK moved within a game of winning the Kharlamov Cup..
Defense and goaltending took the night off in what proved to be the deciding game, as Dynamo MSK raced to a 4-0 lead in the first period and held on for a 7-5 triumph to clinch the Kharlamov Cup. The madness began early in the first period, when Loko Yaroslavl defenseman Alexei Goryachev’s bank pass intended for partner Roman Bychkov caromed off the wrong spot of the end boards right to the low slot, where an unchecked Didkovskiy beat a helpless Yegor Guskov for a 1-0 Dynamo MSK lead. They made it 2-0 less than a minute later on a Maxim Makhrin wrister, and Dmitry Zlodeyev increased Dynamo MSK’s lead to 3-0 when he rifled one past Guskov with only 35 seconds left in the opening period. They continued the scoring barrage in the middle stanza when Mikhailov converted a Rashevsky feed for a short-handed goal at the 1:42 mark, and Kisakov responded to Daniil Tesanov’s power-play goal with a beautiful backhand finish that gave Dynamo MSK a rather safe 5-1 advantage. But Loko Yaroslavl scored twice in the second period and again with just 5:49 left in the third to bring them within 5-4, and even Rashevsky’s insurance goal 21 seconds later was responded with a tally from Tesanov with 1:20 left in regulation that kept Loko alive at 6-5. That was as close as Loko Yaroslavl would come, however, as defenseman Andrei Pribylsky sealed the victory with an empty netter, giving Dynamo MSK a well-deserved Kharlamov Cup title.
Before the series
Dynamo MSK during the regular season finished first overall in points (107) and on the penalty kill (89.8 percent) but ranked second to Loko Yaroslavl in wins (46), goals for (254), and goal differential (+124). They finished third in goals-against average (2.00), and tied for eighth on the power play (19.7 percent).
Won the season series with Loko Yaroslavl, beating them in three of the four games; two of their wins were by 4-3 scores (one a shootout). The teams also traded 4-0 decisions.
Defending MHL champions and won the Kharlamov Cup in 2016, 2017, and 2019 (2020 postseason cancelled).
Lokomotiv led the MHL in wins (47), goals for (255), goals per game (3.98), goals-against average (1.70), goal differential (+146), and power-play (23.9 percent), and placed third in penalty killing (87.3 percent).
Loko Yaroslavl and Dynamo MSK tied with Chaika for an MHL-best 13 short-handed goals
During the playoffs
Earned the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and recorded 3-0 sweeps against each of their first three opponents — No. 8 Atlanty, No. 5 Krasnaya Armiya, and No. 5 Tolpar (from the Eastern Conference) to advance to the final.
Outscored their opponents in Rounds 1-3 by a 35-11 margin and yielded one goal or less in six of their nine matches. They outscored Loko Yaroslavl 17-11 in the final and held them to one goal in three of the five games.
Dynamo MSK’s power play struggled throughout the postseason, going 5-for-35 and finishing 11th of 16 teams with a 14.3 success rate. They went 0-for-15 in the final against Loko.
Their top-ranked PK from the regular season killed off 45 of 52 power plays in the playoffs but surrendered two power-play goals in Games 3 and 5 of the final.
Dynamo MSK outshot Loko Yaroslavl in 11 of the 15 periods in the five-game series and averaged 33.8 shots per game compared to only 26.6 for their opponent.
Held the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference playoffs and after a 3-0 sweep of No. 8 Dynamo SPB in Round 1, took each of their next two series against No. 3 SKA-1946 and No. 2 Irbis (Eastern Conference) by a 3-1 count to advance to the final.
Outscored their opponents in Rounds 1-3 by a 37-27 margin but yielded one goal or less in only three of their first 11 playoff games.
Killed off all 15 power plays against Dynamo MSK in the final.
Allowed the first goal of the game in all four of their losses in the final and were outscored 6-1 in the first period.
2021 Draft Prospects
#69 Ilya Nazarov, LW May 20, 2003 | 6’3, 172 pounds | Shoots Left | Moscow, RUS | 50gp-13g-11a-24pts
Nazarov was the lone first-year eligible used regularly by Loko throughout the postseason, with Game 3 of the semifinal against Irbis as his only scratch. He spent the entirety of the playoffs on the fourth line and his minutes during the final (8:24) were reduced significantly from what he registered in Rounds 1-3 (11:41). One thing to consider regarding Nazarov’s role in the final series (beyond the increased strength in opposition) was how outside of Game 3, Loko always trailed, and trailed early. His linemates varied from Ilya Nikolayev or Vladimir Korablyov at center, and the energetic Matvei Bannikov and Timur Akhunov as his other wingers.
Nazarov’s best game was Game 2 where he was directly involved in at least three quality scoring chances — a wraparound attempt; a hard wrister from his off wing that was labeled for the far post, and an explosive wrister that just missed the top corner. It also didn’t seem like Nazarov’s quickness was respected, as he won several long-distance footraces while putting the proper touch and timing on his dump-ins. In terms of physicality, Nazarov wasn’t consistent in playing the body, but he delivered one of the series’ hardest hits by tracking down Daniil Paramonov from across the ice and blasting him off his skates. Nazarov also was used on the penalty kill, albeit for only two or three shifts the entire series.
Nazarov is a versatile winger with good size who excels in tight quarters. He has quick feet and is a strong stickhandler, and he has a noticeable grasp on how he’s supposed to use his long frame and reach when dealing with opposing pressure, especially along the boards. Although he wasn’t a line-driver similar to what occasional linemate Maxim Beryozkin showed in his draft year of 2019-20, Nazarov plays the same style and can be effective in the tough areas while anticipating puck travel for intercepts along the wall. If he isn’t heavily engaged in a one-on-one duel, Nazarov knows when to slip into an opening with his stick at the ready. He does appear to spend more time in the high-slot area than down low, and sometimes this can come across as being passive. But Nazarov can be a horse on the puck who requires a double team to wrestle possession away from him.
Nazarov is a strong, well-balanced skater with a short stride but impressive tight-quarter quickness and agility, all assessed within the context of his size. His straight-line speed is average but Nazarov’s anticipation definitely helps him make up for any shortcomings in explosiveness. Once inside the zone, Nazarov can dominate the outside and grind down multiple opponents who try to knock him off the puck. He also boasts a plus shot-release combination and can wire the puck with accuracy off his back foot or off-wing. Having soft hands and a wicked shot made him a set-play option in the slot, but his size and hand-eye coordination serve him well as a net-front presence, especially on the power play. His decision making and coverage in the defensive zone are inconsistent but Nazarov does show a willingness to compete and play the body. The Locomotiv organization usually requires all of its forwards to play a 200-foot game, so chalk up any of Nazarov’s shortcomings off the puck to inexperience.
#89 Daniil Tesanov, C (2OA) Aug. 1, 2001 | 6’3, 199 pounds | Shoots Right | Moscow, RUS | 45gp-19g-15a-34pts
If there was one player on Loko who looked the part of an everyday NHL player practically every shift, it was Tesanov, who was their most dangerous option beyond the lethal top-line duo of Stepan Nikulin and Ruslan Abrosimov. The belief was that Maxim Denezhkin was going to lock down the No. 2 center role after Abrosimov, but Tesanov, with the help of hard-working winger Nikita Kiryanov, quickly turned Loko’s third line into a unit equally as productive as the best they had to offer. Tesanov hit the scoresheet in only two games — an assist on an empty-netter in Game 3 and a hat trick in Game 5 — but he also had 13 shots in five games while averaging 17:36 of ice time. What is significant about his usage was that he played more when the stakes were higher against the tougher opponent than he did in any of the previous two series (15:35). He was used in every late/close situation and excelled during special teams, and Tesanov’s versatility and puck domination made it feel like he could have excelled playing any of the five positions. If you didn’t see him in open ice at top speed, or charging towards the Dynamo MSK goal, you found Tesanov creating havoc in the low slot or controlling the puck throughout the offensive zone for long stretches.
Tesanov is a big, menacing 200-foot center with very good speed and overall quickness. Although it’s common for forwards his size to be labeled as limited checkers or slow-footed brutes, it doesn’t take long for one to realize just how nimble and skilled a player Tesanov can be. Yes, he’s an expert penalty killer and strong on faceoffs (57.8 percent during regular season), but Tesanov also thinks the game while reacting and knows how to time things perfectly to make anyone in the five-man unit a scoring threat. That is partly why he has been used as a point man on the power play, where his soft pass deliveries and booming slapper certainly come in handy. Tesanov rarely hesitates with the puck and has the speed and hands to attack the net with fury, but doing so while owning a 6-foot-3, 200-pound frames makes him a far more intimidating threat than your average “big”.
#26 Nikita V. Kiryanov, LW (OA) May 7, 2002 | 6’5, 180 pounds | Shoots Left | Perm, RUS | 49gp-13g-16a-26pts
Lokomotiv found itself either trailing or trailing early in four of the five games, but it was Kiryanov, along with center Daniil Tesanov, who were able to take pressure off the top line by consistently generating chances, drawing penalties, and delivering momentum-changing plays. There wasn’t one second of play during any of the five games when Lokomotiv looked ready to quit, and Kiryanov deserves a significant amount of credit for competing hard from whistle to whistle and doing all the little things required to keep the ice balanced. Kiryanov also showed his versatility, as he was used on the top power-play unit as a net-front presence and also paired with Tesanov to form Lokomotiv’s best penalty-killing duo (Loko killed off all 15 MSK power plays during the series). Kiryanov was among the team leaders with four assists in five games — three of which came in Game 5 — and he also registered two shots in every match while averaging 17:40 of ice time. His 12 points in 16 totals playoff games tied for fourth overall.
Kiryanov is a towering two-way winger who checks all the right blocks in the intangibles and coachability departments. He generates most of his points from the tough areas, but neither his speed, shot, nor his creativity should be underestimated. The toughness to his game is evident in how hard he battles as opposed to intimidating opponents with reckless hitting or dirty play. Once in flight, Kiryanov reveals soft hands to handle hard deliveries from short distances and also corrals lead passes with ease. Kiryanov is a smart player who keeps his head and feet moving while pointing or shouting out coverage instructions to his teammates. He is an above-average skater for his size but will uses sharp cutbacks or inside moves when entering the zone. Kiryanov has played for Russia at the international level, so it’s not like he’s been completely off the radar. Bank on him getting a long look for Russia’s under-20 world junior squad in 2022.
#13 Stepan Nikulin, RW (2OA) March 17, 2001 | 5’11, 185 pounds | Shoots Right | Yaroslavl, RUS | 59gp-33g-41a-74pts
Nikulin was the MHL’s leading scorer in his third full season in the league. He registered an impressive 33 goals and 41 assists for 74 points in 59 games, and he clearly was the driving force behind Lokomotiv’s deep run to the Kharlamov Cup Final. Nikulin is an excellent skater for both his quickness and agility. He is a deadly open ice threat who can be a nightmare to defend against in one-on-one situations for multiple reasons beyond his skating. Nikulin has an aggressive mindset and keeps himself in motion while putting on a stickhandling clinic. He doesn’t require optimal situations to create chances, and Nikulin shows no hesitation when presented with an open shooting or passing lane. Nikulin was the main reason why linemates Ruslan Abromisov and Ilya Chefanov finished third and fifth, respectively, in league scoring, as his puckhandling displays once inside the offensive zone expanded the ice significantly.
Not only was Nikulin the driving force for Lokomotiv at even strength, but he also killed penalties and played the point or half-wall during the power play. He was the team MVP through and through, and in the finals against Dynamo MSK was consistently able to dictate tempo. If the ice was tilted against them, it usually was Nikulin with his foot on their throat. Although it goes without saying that junior-league production by third or fourth-year players should be viewed with a grain of salt, and Nikulin does show moments of immaturity and selfishness, it’s hard to detract from just how dynamic he can be. Especially since the numbers clearly support the eye test.
#18 Pavel Tyutnev, C/LW (OA) July 25, 2002 | 5’10, 185 pounds | Shoots Left | Voskresensk, RUS | 25gp-8g-11a-19pts
NHL scouts should be all too familiar with this sturdy sniper, who last October went undrafted in his first year of eligibility after he played for Russian junior teams at all teenage levels. Tyutnev’s game seemed to mature this season and he was a key figure for Loko during the playoffs, scoring four goals and seven points in 10 games, including a goals and two assists in Game 5 of the MHL Final. Tyutnev raced off to a hot start in 2020-21 and was quickly promoted to the adult-age VHL, where he recorded a goal and two assists in 14 games for Voronezh.
Tyutnev is listed as a winger on most draft lists but he played center during the majority of his time in the MHL, winning 53 percent of his 234 combined draws between the regular season and playoffs. He possesses an elite shot that has made him a fixture on the power play, but Tyutnev’s thick frame and willingness to battle usually has him positioned close to or on top of the goal. His skating package is average but he has no problem taking defenders inside or out while displaying a series of crafty fakes and stutter steps. Tyutnev is a strong stickhandler who is tough to knock off the puck and his vision extends to well beyond his immediate possession radius. He isn’t a classic 200-foot forward who puts forth the same effort off the puck as he does while operating it, but Tyutnev can be a competent penalty killer and is useful in board battles.