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 2020 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. Today we look at Rodion Amirov.
A talented Russian forward playing in the KHL and MHL, Rodion Amirov put up just two points in 21 KHL games this season. However, stats don’t tell the whole story, especially when you consider he is an 18-year-old with limited ice time in a men’s league. Playing in the MHL, he was dominant, with 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points in 17 games. He also added two points in five playoff games. Amirov has also been successful in the VHL, with three points in five regular-season games and four points in six playoff games. Amirov scored a goal in three games at the Spengler Cup. He also picked up three points in five games at the Canada-Russia Super Series.
Last season, Amirov put up 13 goals and 26 points in 31 games in the MHL. He also put up six points in eight MHL playoff games. Amirov played for Russia at the IIHF Under-18, scoring six goals and nine points in seven games, winning a silver medal and making the tournament all-star team. He was also part of the bronze-medal winning Russian team at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup.
Rodion Amirov Scouting Report
Right Wing/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born October 2nd, 2001 — Salavat, Russia
Height 6’0″ — Weight 168 lbs [183 cm / 76 kg]
Amirov is a strong skater who plays a 200-foot game. He has very good top-end speed and good acceleration. He also possesses an excellent first step. Amirov couples this with excellent agility and edge work. This gives him the ability to weave in and out of traffic both with and without the puck. Amirov could stand to add some muscle to his frame though, especially in his lower body. This would help him to fight through checks and to maintain his balance in battles along the boards. This area of his game should continue to mature as he matures.
Amirov also has an excellent wrist shot and a quick release. His shot is powerful and accurate and helps Amirov to be a natural goal scorer. He is also effective at establishing his position in front of the net. From there he can use a quick stick to bury a pass from a teammate; to pounce on a rebound; or to deflect a shot into the net. He has the soft hands to finish plays if he gets one-on-one with the goaltender. With his high-end hockey IQ he is able to find soft spots in the defence and set up for a one-timer.
Amirov is effective on the forecheck, getting in quickly and hounding defenceman and forcing them to move the puck quicker than they want to. This often leads to mistakes which he can quickly turn into a scoring chance. He isn’t overly physical, but his mere presence hounding the puck is effective. Amirov could become even more effective in this area of his game as he gains muscle. While he can often look like a man amongst boys in the MHL, he looks slight and skinny when playing in the VHL or KHL. Amirov has excellent hands and is able to make plays with the puck at top speed. He is not really a creative passer but makes short, safe passes in the cycle game to keep the puck moving.
Amirov is effective in all three zones, also hounding the puck in the neutral zone and helping out on the backcheck. He is positionally sound and uses an active stick to cut down passing lanes and to knock the puck away from his opponent. Amirov is not an overly physical player, instead he uses his smarts, ability to read the play, and anticipation to help break up offensive chances and support the defenders in his own end of the ice. He has been used as a penalty killer in the MHL as well as when he plays with his age group in international tournaments.
Projection and Comparison
According to Elite Prospects, Amirov’s KHL contract runs until the end of the 2020-21 season. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as he is not NHL ready and could use some more time developing. However, how many more years he will want to extend that deal before coming to North America remains to be seen. Amirov is dominant in the MHL, and really should not play many games in that league going forward. It is hoped he can get more ice-time against men, either at the KHL or VHL level next year. Amirov has all the tools to be a top-six winger in the NHL but still needs more development time. His game is reminiscent of Max Pacioretty. 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 Rodion Amirov that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Rodion Amirov Main Photo by Vincent Ethier/LHJMQ