Next up on the draft board, we pivot to another speedy winger, and one of the standouts from this year’s U18s.
Chibrikov had himself, on the whole, a very solid season. After starting the season putting up close a point per game at the junior level in the MHL, he quickly earned a promotion, and spent the rest of the season between the VHL and KHL, getting a taste of the professional game. We, as expected, didn’t see that scoring pace directly translate, but Chibrikov made a difficult jump at a young age, and found a way to look quite good in doing so. There’s a lot to like about his game, and he seems to just be scratching the surface.
BSH 2021 Community Draft Board, No. 17: Nikita Chibrikov
Team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL), SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
Stats: 1 G, 1 A in 16 GP (KHL), 3 G, 5A in 20 GP (VHL). 3 G, 6 A in 11 GP (MHL).
No. 4 (EU skaters) by NHL Central Scouting
No. 21 by FC Hockey
No. 24 by Dobber Prospects
No. 28 by Wheeler/The Athletic
What’s there to like?
As we noted in the introduction, one of the immediate standouts about Chibrikov’s game is his speed. He brings solid foot speed and is good on his edges, and that’s a real asset to him, but perhaps even more noteworthy is the way he just plays the game with excellent pace. He’s capable, certainly, of slowing things down to make plays when he needs to, but the way he’s able to kick up the speed and intensity of play is a piece of his game that’s really exciting.
As for Chibrikov’s offensive game, there’s a lot to like here. He plays, all in all, a pretty direct style. We don’t see him being hesitant in making plays, he’s quite decisive. You won't see him going on long skates, holding on to the puck and weaving through pressure to avoid it until a chance opens up, but rather, he plays with more of an attack mentality and will just go an manufacture a chance for himself. He can find seams well, he’s shown strength at drawing defenders to him and then allowing his teammates to exploit that space opened up, he isn’t afraid to drive the net, he’s really strong on the forecheck, and we see this all combining to make him quite a threat with the puck.
On the flip side, it’s also worth noting that Chibrikov’s defensive game is already quite well developed. And while there’s certainly still some room for improvement, we’ve seen that he’s reliable defensively and has seen that part of his game also translate pretty immediately to the professional game, which is a good sign.
And, of course, there’s also the fact that Chibrikov is already in some ways ahead of others in this class, developmentally. He’s already gotten a taste of the professional game, and certainly already found some success therein, and that’s encouraging to see. It’s not an easy jump to make, particularly at his age, but to see him doing so and working towards finding his footing already certainly bodes well.
What’s not to like?
For some, Chibrikov’s size might be a concern. He’s listed in the 5’9”-5’10” neighborhood, depending on where you look, so it goes without saying that he’s certainly not going to be the biggest player on the ice. But given the success we’ve seen from smaller players recently and how the game is evolving, we’d be pretty hard pressed to call this an issue. But some people still might feel like it is. Shrug.
A smaller detail that we could point to for being in need of improving is his skating. Now, as we mentioned earlier, there certainly are elements of it that are working, so this isn’t a huge concern, but as he continues to mature and get stronger, we’d like to see him working on getting more explosive with his skating.
The larger concern, though, is of consistency, of him him remaining engaged in plays and working to create chances when he doesn’t have quite as much space to work with, or when he doesn’t have the puck. Those are times when we can see him lose a step look a little more listless out there. Is this an absolutely insurmountable issue? No. But he’s going to need some coaching and maturing to happen for him to work out of it.
How would he fit in the Flyers’ system?
Looking at the Flyers’ pipeline, they are pretty well stocked with wingers, at present, so we wouldn’t really call that a position of need (though, of course, we wouldn’t say that’s any reason why the Flyers flat out shouldn’t draft him).
That said, on top of it being hard to pass up the obvious bit to skill he would bring to the table, the Flyers could stand to add a bit more speed into their lineup, and that’s something that Chibrikov certainly brings in droves. Beyond bringing good individual speed, he plays with very good pace, and that kind of pace will pull his linemates along as well. That would be a real asset for the Flyers, and hard to turn down if it falls into their lap.
Could the Flyers actually get him?
There’s some good news here! If everything goes more or less according to plan, and, as many of the rankings predict, Chibrikov is set to be picked somewhere around the early to mid 20s, that would indeed make him available to the Flyers at 13. Now, to pick him there would probably be a bit of a reach, but he’s certainly one who should be available if the Flyers were to look into trading back a bit.
We’ll also make one addition to the poll:
Corson Ceulemans — RHD, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
There’s a lot to like about Ceulemans’ package. He’s right-handed. He’s big, and sturdy, and athletic and he uses his heaviness to play a rugged style against the rush and in his own zone along the wall (though he can also settle into lackadaisical defensive posture a little too often and get caught puck-watching). He’s also capable offensively, with an attacking style which is complemented by a hard point shot (off of his snap shot and his low slap shot) and quick offensive-zone instincts through holes as they open. - Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Who should be 18th on the draft board?
This poll is closed
2021 BSH Community Draft Board
- Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Brandt Clarke — D, Nove Zamky (Slovakia)
- Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton (WHL)
- William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
- Luke Hughes — D, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Simon Edvinsson — D, Frölunda HC J20 / J20 Nationell - 21/22
- Kent Johnson — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
- Aatu Räty — C, Kärpät U20 and Kärpät (Liiga)
- Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå (SHL)
- Mason McTavish — C, EHC Olten (SL)
- Cole Sillinger — C/LW, Sioux (USHL)
- Chaz Lucius — C, US NTDP (USHL) and US National U18 (USDP)
- Fabian Lysell — LW/RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
- Carson Lambos — D, JYP U20 (U20 SM-sarja)
- Matthew Coronato — F, Chicago Steel (USHL)
- Nikita Chibrikov — LW/RW, SKA St. Petersburg (KHL), SKA-Neva St. Petersburg (VHL), SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)