Ostap Safin is a 6’5’’ 205lb Czech winger, who the Oilers drafted in the 4th round in 2017. He spent the 2018-19 season with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL, and is expected to start this coming season in Bakersfield.
Safin has twice represented his country at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. He’s also already had a brief stint in professional hockey, tallying one goal in nine games at the end of the 2017-18 AHL season.
How we ranked him
What the scouts say
Skates very well, with balance and noteworthy speed, and handles the puck with ease and control at top speeds. Displays a dangerously accurate shot that he is never hesitant to use; often a threat in the offensive zone. Uses his frame well, to protect the puck, as well as to impose physically upon the opposition. Defensively stable and actively cuts off passing and shooting lanes. Could be more creative, but is more of a straight-line player. (Curtis Joe, EP 2016)
What the stats say
The stats don’t paint the best picture for the 20-year-old. In 2017-18, Safin recorded 58 points in 61 games for a bad Saint John Sea Dogs team. But, last year, in Halifax, Safin scored only 2 points in 23 games in the Mooseheads’ run towards the Memorial Cup. For a 19-year-old in major junior, one should expect much more from a player for him to be considered a legitimate NHL prospect.
So, why’s he on the list?
Because he’s a big winger who can skate, and play a straight-line game. That at least gives him a chance to be a contributor at the NHL level, even if it is in a limited capacity.
One would hope that the Oilers prioritize skill at the NHL level, even if it means an atypical bottom six. If that is the case, Safin probably doesn’t crack the big club’s roster without a significant amount of development. Right now, he probably projects to be more of a middle six or bottom six forward on a competitive Bakersfield team. There is value in that. But, if you’re looking for players who are decent bets to be above replacement level in the NHL, you’re probably not going to find one until the mid-teens on this list, at the earliest.
Safin’s big, fast, and has a solid pedigree. He’s organizational depth at this point, but he’s still young and hopefully has some untapped potential. That’s what puts him at #21 on this list.