How far would you travel to pursue your dreams? Vitaly Abramov moved 8,000 kilometers away from Chelyabinsk, Russia to strengthen his chances at an NHL future.
He joined the Gatineau Olympiques this past season and torched the QMJHL on his way to Rookie of the Year honours.
Abramov may not have been a household name in the fall of 2015, but he’s a virtual lock to be among the first 60 names called at the 2016 NHL Draft.
Here’s everything you need to know about him.
Age on June 24: 18
Current Team: Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Position: Right Wing
Weight: 170 pounds
From: Chelyabinsk, RUS.
NHL Central Scouting Rank (North America): 29th
Jeff Marek’s Take: Skilled and shifty, creative and flashy. Some scouts say he needs another gear in his skating, but he is such fun to watch.
Small forward, big game
If Abramov’s size is underwhelming, his game certainly isn’t.
Dobberprospects.com refers to him as “a dynamic offensive player who possesses excellent vision and offensive creativity.”
They add that Abramov “has a wide array of moves, dekes and toe-drags, with explosive acceleration and a high-end top gear.”
The Russian’s skill propelled him to a fifth-place finish in the QMJHL scoring race, collecting 38 goals and 55 assists for 93 points in 63 games.
No rookie in the CHL scored more goals, assists or points than Abramov did this season. And he outdid the next best rookie in the ‘Q’ by over ten in every category.
So much for being undersized…
He made a bold decision
It wasn’t without some consternation that Abramov skirted his chance to lace up with the Russian Under-18 team in the MHL this season by moving to Canada.
“Abramov moved to the unknown,” said KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko.
“I don’t think It was a scandal,” Abramov told thehockeywriters.com. “Simply, some people expressed their opinion. My parents and I decided that it would have been better moving to Canada.”
That decision was made with the knowledge that the Russian National team might take umbrage, perhaps limiting Abramov from participating in some international events.
As it turned out, Abramov wasn’t selected to play in the World Junior Championship. But he’d have been a lock to play on the Under-18 in Grand Forks, ND., in April, had the Russians not been disqualified for doping.
Either way, it would be impossible to suggest playing in Canada hurt Abramov’s development.
Still dominant in the playoffs
Gatineau may have only made it to the second round of the QMJHL playoffs, but Abramov’s performance was noteworthy. He led the team with seven goals and six assists in just 10 games.
He’s got top-line talent
Everything about Abramov’s game suggests he’s going to be a top-six forward in the NHL one day. That’s why he managed to climb from 56th to 29th from mid-term to final rankings via NHL Central Scouting.
He’s got the markings of a first-rounder, but his size might push him to the second round in Buffalo this June. Whichever team gets him there is going to be thrilled.