Prospect of Interest: Skilled Russian winger Ivan Miroshnichenko

Ivan Miroshnichenko of the Russian junior hockey team. (Courtesy Russia Hockey)

Ivan Miroshnichenko is a high-risk, high-reward prospect available to be selected in the 2022 NHL Draft and should add goal-scoring potential and offensive upside to the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals selected Miroshnichenko 20th overall in the first round of the draft Thursday.

Some of the risk in drafting Miroshnichenko stems from a relative lack of recent scouting due to his year being interrupted by a health scare, plus the fact he is Russian and from a country actively at war.

As Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino mentioned in his final mock draft: “One more element that teams will have to weigh is the gravity of the conflict in Ukraine. There are three surefire first-round Russian-born players in Danila Yurov, Ivan Miroshnichenko and Pavel Mintyukov. The first two played in Russia this year and so getting second-half viewings of those players was limited to scouts who are based in that country. … Additionally, the recent reported incident involving Philadelphia netminder Ivan Fedotov may also impact how teams approach drafting Russian-born players.”

Miroshnichenko previously had issues obtaining a visa, which prevented him from joining the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks in 2020.

Any team willing to take a risk on the forward could be rewarded with a skilled right-shot winger who loves snapping home pucks from the left side and from the slot.

He’s no hulking figure yet at six-foot-one, 185 pounds already has NHL size with room to grow, projecting as a top-six forward with the type of skill set that tends to benefit power play units.

Miroshnichenko has produced at better than a point-per-game pace when competing against his own age group. He may not project as a future Selke contender, but he doesn’t neglect his defensive responsibilities either.

He excelled during his time with Vityaz Podolsk, two years split between three different levels. He registered 36 goals, 17 assists and 71 PIMs in 25 games during his U16 season before 11 goals, seven assists and 16 PIMs in 16 games with the U17 group and added 10 goals, four assists and 29 PIMs in the eight games he spent with the U18 team.

One trend you’ll notice from those numbers is his goals far outweigh his assist total. Miroshnichenko is a finisher and sits No. 11 among European skaters on Central Scouting’s final draft rankings, falling two spots from mid-season when he sat ninth.

CANCER IN REMISSION

NHL teams were notified by the Russian Hockey Federation in March that Miroshnichenko had been diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and would be prematurely ending his 2021-22 campaign spent with Omskie Krylia of Russia’s Supreme Hockey League.

It is the same illness Mario Lemieux was diagnosed with back in 1993 before making a full recovery and returning to the NHL.

Miroshnichenko travelled to Germany where he received treatment and eventually the cancer went into full remission. Miroshnichenko, whose body will need time to fully recover from chemotherapy, was cleared to resume training in June and hopes to be ready for the 2022-23 season. His contractual rights are owned by the KHL’s Avangard Omsk.

INTERNATIONAL SUCCESS

Some of Miroshnichenko’s best hockey has been played while representing his country.

He captained Russia to a gold medal at the 2020 Youth Olympic Games where he had six goals, six assists and a tournament-best plus-13 rating in just four games. Some of his highlights from that tourney can be seen in the video below.

He fired home six goals in seven games en route to a silver medal at the 2021 U18 world championship the following year.

“Highly talented offensive weapon that can impact the game with his shot as well as his passing ability,” according to Nick Richard of Dobber Prospects. “Needs to become more consistent with his compete level but has the raw skill to be a star in the NHL.”

Scouts continued salivating over Miroshnichenko’s ceiling during his standout performance as captain of Russia at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last summer.

He finished that tournament with four goals, five assists and managed to stay out of the penalty box in five games.

“From a pure talent perspective he is a deserving top 10 pick in this draft class,” Cosentino has said of Miroshnichenko, adding that his “shot and skating ability translate well already and he’s not far off with the rest of his game.”

Cosentino also said Miroshnichenko “has the potential to be a home run” draft pick this year. Looking back at Cosentino’s very first draft rankings for the 2022 class in October, Miroshnichenko came in at third overall.

Once he’s back to full strength and resumes the trajectory he was on during this stretch of his junior career, he could end up having a positive impact on whichever NHL franchise calls his seven-syllable name.

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