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Bulat Shafigullin has been an intriguing name amongst NHL draft watchers. He is putting up big points in Russian junior leagues but has not played for Russia in any international tournaments. Obviously getting footage of the MHL isn’t the easiest thing to find (although there are a couple that were streamed on youtube, I’ve included them in the highlights section). Luckily he also played 17 KHL games for Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk this past season. While he only put up two assists, there was still some footage to evaluate the young winger, and come up with a report.
Shafigullin dominated in the MHL, with numbers that few other prospects put up in that league. He scored 20 goals and 16 assists for 36 points in just 22 games. He also added four goals and 11 assists for 15 points in just nine playoff games. He led the MHL playoffs in both points and assists.
Bulat Shafigullin Scouting Report
Left Wing/Right Wing — Shoots Left
Born December 29th, 1999 — Nizhnekamsk, Russia
Height — 6’0″ Weight 165 lbs [184 cm/75 kg]
Shafigullin is not the fastest skater, but is very shifty and has good balance. His top-end speed is good but not great. However, he does have good acceleration and gets going in just a few strides. He is very agile, with excellent edgework and the ability to make quick cuts and changes in direction. Shafigullin weaves in and out of traffic, both with and without the puck. His stride has good length and power, which gives him balance and the ability to fight through checks. He needs to get stronger though, as he is good for a junior player, but lack of lower body strength was an issue in KHL games.
Shafigullin is a natural sniper. He is gifted with an excellent wrist shot, and very good snapshot. He varies his release points which can fool goaltenders. Shafigullin also has an excellent one-timer. He has very good hockey sense and the knack for finding open spaces on the ice. Shafigullin also has the soft hands to score in close to the net. He can beat goalies on a breakaway. He also has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections, and bang in rebounds in tight. Shafigullin is not afraid to go to the net to score.
While mostly known for his goal-scoring, Shafigullin can also play the role of playmaker. He has good vision and passing skills. He is a good stickhandler, and his puck protection abilities can extend plays and wait for teammates to get open. His shiftiness can also create passing lanes. When a teammate is open, he can make a tape-to-tape pass through a small opening. Shafigullin reads the play extremely well, anticipating where defenders and teammates will go, and taking advantage of any open space that he can find. He could stand to get stronger, which will help him to control the boards and win battles.
Shafigullin’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. He can sometimes float without the puck, getting caught puck watching and waiting to fly out of the zone for an offensive opportunity. He needs to keep his feet moving and stay with his man. His positioning will also needs some work. There will definitely be some time spent coaching him on his own side of the ice. Increased strength would also help him play a bit more physical.
Projection and Comparison
Shafigullin is a bit of an under the radar prospect and as such can be a huge boom or bust pick. His numbers are outstanding, as he had one of the top MHL PPG seasons ever for his age, and his playoff performance just added to that. However, with limited international competition and very limited (under 5 minutes per game) action at the KHL level, it’s unclear how many scouts would be comfortable taking him in the top two rounds. The flashes of skill are evident though, so he might be worth the gamble. In terms of style, he plays the game similar to Nikita Kucherov. This is a style only comparison though, and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and full games of Shafigullin that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.