Denis Guryanov is a dynamic, strong goal scorer from Russia, who styles his game after Valeri Nichushkin and Alex Ovechkin. Where he gets picked is anyone’s guess. Here’s what you need to know about one of this year’s most intriguing prospects.
Age on June 26: 18
Birthplace: Togliatti, Russia
Current team: Lada Togliatti, KHL/MHL
Position: Left/Right wing
Weight: 192 pounds
NHL Central Scouting rank (International): 7th
Marek’s Take: Difficult winger to play against one-one-one and can make scoring look easy at times. Once he fills out he has the frame to be a difficult skater to play against on the wing. Has been known to take games off but the power forward potential is there. NHL Comparable: Nikolay Kulemin
Led Russia in scoring for two different tournaments
While the Russians had a disappointing under-18 tournament overall, losing 5-0 to host Switzerland in the quarter-final, Guryanov had a strong showing. In five games, Guryanov led his team with six goals and seven points.
Way back at the beginning of the season, at the World Junior A Challenge, Guryanov also Russia with three goals and four points in five games, including a goal in the bronze medal game. With seven goals in 12 total international games this season, Guryanov has showed off his goal scoring potential.
Speedy, bullish and possessing a terrific shot, Guryanov is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. Described as a “dynamic” offensive talent with good size, he dominated Russia’s junior circuit (MHL) with 15 goals and 25 points in 13 games and got eight games of experience (logging one assist) in the KHL this season, too.
You’ll get a sense of his speed on this short-handed goal against the U.S. at the under-18 championship.
The Russian Factor impacts his draft stock
Because Guryanov is Russian-born and has never played for a North American club, some teams and fans will look at him with caution. Would he be willing to play in the American Hockey League, or is he going to stick in Russia until he can get a spot on an NHL roster? How will he adjust to the smaller, more physical North American game? These are questions we’re usually faced with when discussing Russians from the KHL, since there is still no agreement between the NHL and the Russian league for transfers.
Styles his game after Valeri Nichushkin and Alex Ovechkin
“A dynamic goal scorer who is full of surprises, he is a strong, tough, power forward who goes hard to the net using his physical strength and size. He protects the puck well, is difficult to stop when at full speed and always tries to use his strong shot,” said Goran Stubb, the NHL’s director of European scouting.
Guryanov has compared his game to that of Dallas Stars youngster Valeri Nichushkin, the 10th overall pick of the 2013 draft. Nichushkin also came straight from the KHL to the NHL and scored 14 goals and 34 points in 79 games during his rookie season of 2013-14. He was limited to eight NHL games this season due to injury.
Where he goes is anyone’s guess
Because of the Russian Factor and his lack of exposure to North American audiences, it’s a real mystery where Guryanov goes at the draft. He could end up being a steal in the second round, or he could end up going in the first round. Teams such as Tampa Bay and Washington haven’t shied away from taking Russians in the past – but also consider teams such as Toronto and Edmonton, who have more than one first round pick to use this year.