The 2021-22 season for Nashville’s prospects got underway last month as all the European players in the pipeline began their years. Barring anything crazy, everyone should have a full season of hockey ahead of them after a turbulent 18 months, and there are plenty of new prospects from the 2021 NHL Entry Draft that are worth keeping an eye on moving forward. With that said, welcome back to another year of my monthly prospect reports.
1. This season began with fans clamoring to see more starts for 2020 first-round pick Yaroslav Askarov. After he bounced between the MHL, VHL, and KHL last year, the hope was he would grab a full-time role with SKA in the KHL in 2021-22, but it hasn’t been that easy. Askarov began the year with two appearances for SKA Neva (VHL), posting a 0.940 save percentage—and a 1.100 goals saved above average (GSAA) rate—on 50 shots.
In the KHL, Askarov stopped 17 of 18 shots in his lone start, but he came into games in relief twice last week as Lars Johansson and Alexander Samonov struggled. In his three KHL appearances, Askarov has also posted a 0.940 save percentage (on 50 shots) and saved 1.050 goals above average.
2. Frustration over ice time has continued for Askarov’s SKA teammate—and 2021 first-round pick—Fyodor Svechkov. Svechkov has transitioned from ample minutes in the VHL with Lada Togliatti to very few in the KHL this season. Of SKA’s 13 games, Svechkov has seen the ice for four, totaling just under 40 minutes of ice time. After being scratched for nine other games, the young forward has recently suited up in two games for SKA Neva in the VHL but saw just about seven minutes of ice time in their contest last Saturday.
3. Semyon Chistyakov is another Russian prospect who’s found himself on the bad end of lineup decisions. Last year, the 5’11” defender skated in his first full KHL season helping Avangard Omsk to a KHL championship. This year, Chistyakov has been a frequent scratch on a crowded blue line and has skated in three games each for Omsk (KHL) and Omskie Krylia (VHL).
It’s not incredibly concerning given he’s just barely 20-years old, and there’s no need to rush him. But I do wonder how he’s sitting with his decision to turn down Nashville’s aggressive efforts to sign him to an entry-level contract this summer.
While he's not in the lineup today for @hcavangardomsk, some interesting thoughts from this Semyon Chistyakov interview:— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) September 1, 2021
- Priority was to stay in KHL this summer
- NSH pushed hard to sign him
- Father said a 2-year ELC would be worthwhile, not 3#Predshttps://t.co/v1vkukmCoN
4. Vladislav Yeryomenko has begun his third full season in the KHL and will be a key part of a Dinamo Minsk club that’s looking to make a jump to being a serious competitor. The Belarussian club is off to a good start with a 7-4-1 record, and Yeryomenko has one goal and two points in those 12 games.
Earlier in the summer, Yeryomenko suited up for three games with the Belarus national team as they failed to qualify for the 2022 Winter Olympics, but it was good international experience nonetheless. I have serious doubts the 2018 fifth-round pick ever gets a contract from Nashville—he’s likely destined for a career in the KHL—but they do hold his negotiating rights indefinitely.
5. Nashville’s sixth-round pick in 2016, Konstantin Volkov, is another prospect without an inside track to an NHL deal. The 24-year old goal has spent the past three seasons in the Russian VHL but signed with Ässät of the Finnish Liiga before this year.
Joining the team as a backup to Linus Söderström, Volkov’s first two starts were dreadful; He allowed five goals on 14 shots, was pulled in both outings and gave up two goals on four shots in the first three minutes of the second game.
But since then, he’s found his groove and has allowed just six goals on 84 shots, rebounding to a 0.888 save percentage.
6. In Sweden, Adam Wilsby and Skellefteå AIK have gotten their SHL and Champions Hockey League (CHL) seasons underway. In six SHL games on the team’s second pair, Wilsby has record two assists to date, and he’s added a goal and an assist in four CHL games.
As I’ve begun my tracking project for this season, I’ve been once again impressed with Wilsby’s transition play. His improved skating over the past two years has really helped mold him into a confident puck-carrier from deep in his own zone, and it shows as he’s exited the zone with control 56.25% of the time through three games. It’s also helping him shadow opposing forwards and close gaps better, resulting in just a 38.10% zone entry success rate against him.
7. Nashville’s 2021 third-round pick, Anton Olsson, has skated in six games for the Malmö Redhawks in the SHL this season. His ice time has been limited as the 18-year old has lined up as the team’s seventh defender in each contest, but he did score his first career SHL goal:
8. Juuso Pärssinen and his Finnish TPS club are also playing in the CHL this year but lately, Pärssinen has been getting an extended look at rookie and training camp in Nashville. As he returns home, the top-line center for TPS will look to build on his two points in two Liiga games this season.
With his entry-level contract signed, it will likely be the 2022-23 or 2023-24 season when the seventh-round pick comes to North America.
9. Nashville’s last pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft is spending his season with the historic Swiss club HC Davos. Simon Knak, an overage skater with limited offensive skill, returned home this year from Portland of the WHL, and he’s been skating on Davos’ third and fourth lines.
After an extremely slow start to the year, Knak is starting to find some production, including a goal and an assist in Davos’ 6-0 win over the weekend—two of his three points in nine games this year.
What I’m reading:
- EP Rinkside 2021-22 Prospect Pool Rankings: No. 10-ranked Nashville Predators — EP Rinkside [$]
- The Top 100 Players to Watch in Major Junior — The Hockey News
- 20 questions with Adam Wilsby — SHL
- Keepers: Philip Tomasino — Hockey Tactics Newsletter
- Wright tops FC Hockey’s Preliminary Ranking for 2022 Draft — FC Hockey