Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.
After a number of lean years in producing NHL-caliber defencemen, Russia has improved its output of such players in recent years. The latest defender to come out of this pipeline is Semyon Chistyakov. He had a real coming out party at the 2019 IIHF Under-18 World Championships as the key member of the Russian blueline. Chistyakov was named one of the top three players on the team and helped the Russians to a silver medal. He picked up two goals in seven games in the tourney. He was also part of Russia’s entry at the Hlinka-Gretzky cup, coming home with a bronze medal. Chistyakov put up two assists in six games at December’s World Junior A Hockey Championships.
Domestically, Chistyakov spent the majority of the season in the MHL with Tolpar Ufa. In 32 games he put up one goal and 10 assists for 11 points. He also added one assist in seven MHL playoff games. Chistyakov also played four games with Salavat Yulaev Ufa in Russia’s under-18 league, scoring one goal and two assists for three points.
Semyon Chistyakov Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born August 7th, 2001 — Yekaterinburg, Russia
Height 5’10″ — Weight 168 lbs [178 cm / 76 kg]
Chistyakov may not be the biggest player on the ice, but he is very strong and plays with a low centre of gravity. This makes it difficult to knock him off the puck. He has very good balance and wins battles in the corners and in front of the net. Chistyakov is also a fast skater, with good technique and speed in both directions. His acceleration allows him to hit that top-end speed quickly, in just a few strides. He also has very good agility and edgework. Chistyakov uses this to play a strong two-way game.
Chistyakov has a very good slap shot. He is able to get it off as a one-timer as well. This makes him a threat at the point on the power play. Chistyakov uses his lateral mobility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. He also has a good wrist shot with a quick release. Chistyakov is willing to slide down from the point, taking his shot from the top of the circles.
In terms of moving the puck, Chistyakov prefers to pass the puck up the ice than to skate with it. His stickhandling and puck control could use some improvement as he could do a better job avoiding forecheckers and making a move to open up a passing lane. However, Chistyakov is an accurate passer. He gets the puck up the ice quickly to help start the transition game. He also has the ability to quarterback the play from the blue line. Chistyakov could be more patient at the line, taking the opportunity to let teammates get open and set up offensive chances.
Chistyakov is solid in his own end. He is willing to play a physical game. His low centre of gravity and his strength allows him to compete on the boards and in front of the net despite his lack of height. Chistyakov maintains good gap control and keeps his opponent in front of him. Forwards attacking his side of the ice need to keep their head up as he looks to land a big hit. He also is well positioned and uses his stick to break up passing plays. Once turnovers are created, Chistyakov starts the transition game quickly with a good breakout pass.
Projection and Comparison
Chistyakov will likely spend another year or two in Russia before coming over to play North American hockey. He will need some time to adjust to the smaller ice and is likely to need a year in the AHL as well. With his strong defensive game, good skating ability, and offensive tools, he could develop into a top-four defender capable of playing in all situations. Chistyakov’s game is similar to Dion Phaneuf, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Semyon Chistyakov that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect in our NHL Draft series.
Main Photo via Russian Federation Hockey. en.fhr.ru