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 Playofs. 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 either were selected in the NHL draft or are eligible to be picked this year. In total, eight drafted prospects with NHL rights took part in this highly-competitive, five-game series, and their individual performances were assessed on a shift-to-shift basis throughout the final round.
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.
Maxim Beryozkin, RW (EDM 4th/2020)
Few Lokomotiv forwards were as consistently dangerous as this big stickhandling wizard, who was directly involved in either creating or attempting high-danger chances. Beryozkin’s primary center for most of his Lokomotiv career has been fellow Oilers’ draftee Maxim Denezhkin, but he was continuously shifted up and around the lineup as a sort of fireman any time his team needed a boost. His numbers in the final — 1 empty-net goal, 7 shots, and 13:08 TOI — seem unspectacular in his third-line minutes, but Beryozkin was a major pain the neck for Dynamo MSK, especially once he teamed up with Daniil Tesanov and Nikita Kiryanov, and he was always used on the second power-play unit. He even moved up to the top line with Stepan Nikulin and Ruslan Abrosimov for the third period of Game 5 when Loko needed a spark with their season on the line.
Beryozkin also suffered from incredibly bad puck luck, as he hit the post at least three times, was stopped on a breakaway in a critical moment in Game 2, and set up several failed tap-ins by linemates. Off the puck, Beryozkin was hustling every shift, winning foot races to negate an icing, or using his large frame to separate a defender from the puck. An excellent five-game series in all three zones that is not reflected in his raw numbers.
Maxim Denezhkin, C (EDM 7th/2019)
Denezhkin had been a part the previous Kharlamov Cup winner in 2019, but in this particular series he was far too inconsistent and ineffective on the puck. He spent most of this season playing in the adult-age VHL for Buran (22 points in 34 games), so the expectation was that dropping back down to the junior level would provide Loko with a boost offensively. That never materialized in the final, however, and compounding his lack of production (one assist in Game 1, 7 shots, 17:08 TOI), were a series of ill-timed penalties, including a major and misconduct for spearing in Game 3 with his team clinging to a 2-1 lead. The only area where he came in handy was during the penalty kill, as Loko went a perfect 15-for-15. If you assess Denezhkin’s performance within the context of a No. 2 center who eats minutes on the league’s top offense, plus his time on the power play, then it would be easy to call it nothing short of disappointing. His linemates varied as Loko tried to mix things up the deeper their series hole became, but it was the likes of wingers Yegor Manin or Alexander Daryin who were far more dangerous than Denekhkin as their center. He isn’t that great of a skater to begin with, so all the more reason for the Oilers to continue grooming him as a penalty killer and faceoff specialist rather than expecting consistent point production once the competition stiffens.
Alexander Daryin, LW (ARI 4th/2019)
Daryin is a pure speedster who also plays a physical game and can be the flashiest player on the ice, but an ineffective and sloppy Game 1 (including a botched 2-on-1 in overtime) while playing on the second line with Maxim Denekhkin and Yegor Manin ended up costing him a lineup spot in Game 2. The healthy scratch was odd considering a) he wasn’t benched or demoted in Game 1 and b) his replacement for Game 2 was waterbug Matvei Bannikov, who never saw the power play or top six like Daryin did all series. In any event, if the decision was a motivation tool by his coach, it worked, because Daryin was one of Loko Yaroslav’s better forwards in each of the final three games.
Daryin is the type of forward who doesn’t need a shift or two to get his speed game going and he usually explodes off the bench during changes on the fly. His speed and attacking north-south style gave some pretty competent MSK defenders a hard time, and Daryin beat them to the near-side post on a handful of occasions. The lone goal he scored was a redirection off a quick pass down low late in the second period of Game 4 to cut MSK’s lead to 2-1 in what became a 4-1 defeat. The biggest concern right now with Daryin should be execution and decision-making related, as he tries to force things far too often (like most teenage roadrunners).
Ilya Nikolayev, C (CGY 3rd/2019)
Nikolayev for Loko is an average-skating checker who once the playoffs began was never expected to be anything more than the fourth-line center. Therefore, his minutes were kept low throughout all four rounds and the opportunities to produce points decreased as the quality of competition improved. He was in the lineup for Game 1 centering youngster Ilya Nazarov and Oilers’ prospect Maxim Beryozkin, but it became apparent early into that match that it was Beryozkin who drove the line while Nikolayev’s contributions were mainly at the faceoff circle (7-for-12). He, like Alexander Daryin, was a healthy scratch for Game 2, but Nikolayev also was kept out of the lineup for Game 4. His return for the deciding Game 5 was a disaster, as he was on the ice for three goals against in less than six minutes. Quite frankly, the only times Nikolayev was noticeable (outside of one nifty dangle and wrister) was when the coach had him serving a major penalty or bench minor, which is odd considering how good he was as a two-way type during the regular season
Daniil Misyul, LHD (NJD 3rd/2019)
Misyul arguably is Loko’s No. 1 defender and he played over 20 minutes a game in three of the five games against MSK. He was used in every situation conceivable and technically quarterbacked the second power-play unit. Overall, Misyul’s series, and his postseason as a whole, was hit or miss, but consider it more as a minor bump in the road and not necessarily an indicator of his potential in later years. For starters, the kid is a graceful, agile skater and puck handler who can break out on his own and take the puck coast to coast, albeit without much creativity. Personally, I never expected to see him share the same ice with the playmaker and scoring types, and in that role he was more of a facilitator than a possession driver. But Misyul loves to activate and fish around down low for loose pucks.
The issues with Misyul center on puck management and slot positioning, as he was trapped a handful of times because of ill-timed pinches with MSK’s dangerous forwards lurking nearby. He also ignored the backdoor danger on at least two MSK goals from either chasing a covered man behind the net or into the corner. But his biggest mistake can be considered a series changer — a ghastly turnover late in the first period of a scoreless Game 4 that led to MSK’s opening strike by Ivan Didkovskiy. What stung about that one (beyond Loko being at home and coming off a huge win in Game 3) was that Misyul was so good the previous game, especially on the PK and blocking shots. His lone point of his nine-game postseason came in the finale — a perfect stretch pass to Yegor Manin that resulted in a power-play goal by Daniil Tesanov. Misyul also dropped the mitts and pounded MSK defenseman Arman Iritsyan in Game 3. There is a lot of build on from his performance but also several areas to address.
Roman Bychkov, LHD (BOS 5th/2019)
The purpose of this exercise isn’t to pile onto a beaten team, and in a team sport like hockey, there’s always more than one culprit for a loss just like there’s more than one hero in victory. But pound for pound, Bychkov had the worst series of any defenseman from either side, and he was used in all situations. Right from the start in Game 1, he allowed MSK scorer Alexander Kisakov to agitate him and get under his skin, and it got to the point where Kisakov seemed to be driven further to try and posterize Bychkov any chance he could. Things collapsed in Game 2 when Bychkov was schooled by Bogdan Trineyev in a 1-on-1 situation for the critical 1-0 tally, and he then proceeded to take three minor penalties in the same match, including a momentum killer in the second period of a 2-1 game.
He was able to control himself for most of Game 3, but his takedown of Kisakov with a 2-0 lead and Loko dictating play in the third period led to a delayed call that MSK eventually scored on. With the crosshairs on him from that point forward, it was difficult to find anything positive in Bychkov’s game other than a crisp pass here or an example of good mobility on breakouts. Even on MSK’s crucial opening goal by Ivan Didkovskiy in Game 5 (via an inaccurate bank pass from partner Alexei Goryachev), my initial reaction was “Bychkov wasn’t close enough to support his partner under pressure”. He came close to scoring a few times by activating off draws or joining the rush, and he finally buried one to start Loko’s near-comeback in Game 5 by jumping into an opening near the net and converting a feed from Pavel Tyutnev. But the bottom line is clear — burn the tape.
JHC Dynamo MSK
Bogdan Trineyev, LW (WAS 4th/2020)
Trineyev played like a young man possessed and after Zherenko was MSK’s most impactful player from start to finish. Both teams essentially iced three top lines, especially if you’re basing it on the talent level, prospect notoriety, and production. But Trineyev was just as good off the puck as he was on it, speeding up the ice to catch defenders flat footed; delivering hit after hit; pressuring on the forecheck; revealing expert penalty-killing tactics, and generating multiple odd-man rushes simply by working hard and wanting it more than anyone else.
MSK’s line of Trineyev, winger Ivan Didkovskiy, and center Dmitry Zlodeyev has been together for at least two years and all have international experience together, so chemistry has never been an issue. Against a seasoned and skilled opponent like Loko, however, the trio were required to do more than just scoring, and Trineyev never once let his foot off the gas pedal. It didn’t take long for him to become a major thorn in the opposition’s side, and the only reason he didn’t play more than his 14:41 of ice time during the finals is because MSK was getting legit production from both wingers on each of the top two lines. He finished with three assists, 12 shots, and 15 hits in five games, but that hit total needs an audit because I counted at least three shifts in Game 2 alone where he delivered at least two. If you’re the Caps, keep him. If not, demand him in a trade, because this kid as a middle-round pick has NHL’er written all over him.
Dmitry Zlodeyev, C (VAN 6th/2020)
Zlodeyev is a kid I was more than bullish on a season ago, putting him in my first round and demanding NHL clubs draft him at least three or four rounds earlier than his eventual sixth-round landing spot in Vancouver. Truth be told, he was a bit of a passenger the entire series against Loko and his limited minutes in the five games (10:02) are an accurate reflection of his usefulness. The aforementioned line of Zlodeyev, Trineyev, and Didkovskiy entered the series as MSK’s nominal third line but both Zlodeyev and Didkovskiy by Game 3 were jumped by fourth-liners Yegor Bryzgalov and Oleg Zaitsev, respectively. It’s not as though Zlodeyev was doing anything wrong, and the “TZD Line” was MSK’s best in the Game 2 win. Naturally, being loaded at every forward position doesn’t mean every line will score with impunity every game and MSK’s coach clearly understood that, as he gave his fourth liners every opportunity to pitch in.
In Zlodeyev’s case, he saved one of his best performances for the clincher in Game 5, which ironically was one of his lower ice-time totals of the playoffs (8:25). It was Zlodeyev’s forecheck pressure early in the first period that induced the turnover by Alexei Goryachev and led to Didkovskiy’s 1-0 goal, which Zlodeyev followed with a goal of his own in the frame’s dying seconds. He didn’t see much ice time thereafter, but he did team up with Didkovskiy for solid work on the penalty kill in the third period.
Vadim Zherenko, G (STL 7th/2019)
The Kharlamov Cup MVP and then some, Zherenko had as good of a final series as a goalie could have against a vaunted attack. He joined Dynamo MSK specifically for the playoffs after he spent the regular season in the VHL, posting a nondescript 8-10-3 mark with a .922 save percentage (which by VHL standards is below average). In the series against Loko, the final scores of each of the five games aren’t indicative of the constant momentum swings, and how often the young netminder had to deal with relentless pressure from a Loko Yaroslavl squad full of net-crashers, playmakers, and finishers. Stylistically, Zherenko is an aggressive backstop through and through; one who challenges shooters well beyond the crease and was excellent in cutting down high-danger attempts from his 12 o’clock. There was even a two or three minute sequence in Game 1 where he jumped way out to make three gloves saves, including a perfect read on a 2-on-1 to gobble up a chance by Roman Bychkov. This was the trend that Loko faced throughout the series, and it wasn’t until the later stages of Game 5 when Zherenko began showing signs of exhaustion. Luckily for him, his mates gave him a cushy lead that he was able to protect, thereby leading Dynamo to their first ever Kharlamov Cup. For the playoffs, Zherenko went 10-1 with a .940 save percentage. Considering his size, impeccable blocker, strong wrists for puck-handling, cat-like quickness, legitimate rebound control, and obvious big-game success, it’s highly doubtful he isn’t being considered a serious draft candidate by at least half the NHL teams who actively scout Russia.