Prospect of Interest: Is Nikita Chibrikov this year's top Russian player?

Here's what you need to know about Chibrikov, the fourth-ranked European skater on the NHL's Central Scouting list.

He's smart, he's skilled, and while Nikita Chibrikov isn't the biggest prospect in this year's crop of forwards, he plays a style of game that's allowed him to succeed at each level.

Here's what you need to know about Chibrikov, the fourth-ranked European skater on the NHL's Central Scouting list.

Age: 18 (Feb. 16, 2003)
Position: LW/RW
Shoots: Left
Current team: SKA St. Petersburg (KHL)
Hometown: Moscow, Russia
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 172 pounds

He's "by far" the year's best Russian prospect

There aren't a lot of Russian players near the top of this year's draft class. NHL director of European Scouting Goran Stubb likes what he's seen from Chibrikov this year.

"I think he is more or less a classical Russian forward, is skilled, is fast, and has good hockey sense," Stubb told NHL.com's Mike Morreale. "He's full of surprises and an excellent prospect. He's by far the best Russia-born prospect this season; a very good player."

He's a creative playmaker

What Chibrikov lacks in size, he makes up for in speed and creativity.

He's also unafraid to mix it up with a physical playing style, which helped him immensely as he took his first strides in the KHL. The 2020-21 season saw him rise through the Russian hockey ranks in SKA St. Petersburg's system and into the KHL club where he scored a goal and an assist in 16 games while playing amongst men.

His stock rose steadily this year

In a draft class featuring several question marks following another interrupted year of hockey, Chibrikov was able to not just land himself on the list of top prospects, but rise in the ranks.

Sportsnet's draft expert, Sam Cosentino, first included Chibrikov at No. 30 on his monthly rankings in April ahead of the under-18 world championship.

"Has climbed the ladder steadily and is an excitable player who shows confidently with the puck, but needs to work on his play without it," Cosentino wrote of Chibrikov at the time.

One month later, Chibrikov moved up 10 spots to No. 20 after an incredible showing as Team Russia's captain at the worlds, with Cosentino noting that his captaincy "did not go unnoticed."

He captained Team Russia to silver at U18 worlds

Chibrikov was considered a key player to watch ahead of the tournament thanks to his strong skating and high-speed skill, and his performance certainly fulfilled those expectations.

The winger, who wore the C for his country, registered four goals and 13 points in seven games en route to a silver medal, sitting second in points among his Russian teammates and fourth tournament-wide. His nine assists were tops among all players at the event. Chibrikov was named as a top-three player on Russia for his efforts.

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