Bogdan Yakimov - A Closer Look

Derek Leung

The Edmonton Oilers turned the 37th pick in the 2013 draft into the 83rd, 88th, 94th, 96th, and 113th selections. The first player they picked in that bundle was Bogdan Yakimov, a 6'4'' Russian center who has played all of his hockey in Russia.

Yakimov spent the 2012-13 season playing in the Vysshaya Hokkeinaya Liga (VHL), which is Russia's second-best professional league. He finished in a tie for 73rd in the league in points per game (min. 15 games), but finished 3rd among all players under twenty years old:

Bogdan_yakimov

The league has only been in existence for three seasons, so having Nichushkin show up there is helpful in providing some kind of standard for what might be considered good. A look at the top ten U-20 seasons ever (i.e. in the last three years) helps to show that this isn't a league where young players generally have success, but it doesn't add much in the way of familiar names:

Bogdan_yakimov

A look back at Yakimov's performance in the MHL, Russia's top junior league, in 2011-12 helps to position him in more familiar territory. In the chart below, we're looking at the Draft -1 performance of players who were drafted inside the top 100 in 2011, 2012, or 2013.

Bogdan_yakimov

Yakimov's performance is a step back from most of these players, and he's half a year older than all of them, which paints a less rosy picture. Then again, his position here probably shouldn't come as a huge surprise since all of the other players on this chart were taken earlier in the draft. It does, however, suggest that Yakimov probably has some significant issues that will need to be addressed if he's ever going to make it to the NHL.

Corey Pronman helps to identify what some of those issues might be:

His hands are above average, and while he can certainly make some moves and carry the puck into the opposing zone, he is not an overly creative forward.... His main issue is his skating, as it is below average. His top speed and his first few steps are subpar, and while has shown some improvement, he must continue to progress in that area.

International Scouting Services seems to agree with this assessment, classifying his skating as "good" which is code for "poor" (of their 100 top-ranked players six had "excellent" skating, sixty "very good" skating, twenty-seven "good" skating, and seven had "average" skating), but Yakimov did receive higher grades in the other categories.

One thing that ISS identified as a potential issue for scouts was Yakimov's non-presence at international events, which could make his progress (or lack thereof) difficult to gauge. Yakimov didn't play in any international events at all this season. He missed the World Junior Championships at Christmas because he didn't make the team, and by the time the U-18 tournament came around at the end of the season Yakimov was too old to participate. Combine that non-participation with the league he played in, and it seems quite possible that many teams saw him very little or not at all this year, helping them to forget Yakimov's strong performance at the 2012 U-18 tournament where he led Russia in scoring with seven points in six games.

That last point is probably what has me most hopeful. It's quite possible that Yakimov has taken a substantial step forward, but that it's a step forward that's gone largely unnoticed. He's slated to play in the KHL during the 2013-14 season with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (Nail Yakupov's old team), and his play there will be very telling. Let's hope it tells us something we want to hear.

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