Dmitri Samorukov is a 6’3’’ 187lb defenceman from Russia. He was the Oilers’ third round pick (84th overall) in 2017, but since then he’s rocketed up the organizational depth chart, and now projects to be one of the team’s most promising defenders for years to come.
Samorukov is likely to start the coming season in Bakersfield, and it will be interesting to see what he can do in his first professional season, after such an impressive showing in his final year of major junior hockey, in 2018-19.
The 2018-19 season was a very welcomed surprise from Samorukov. Not only did he represent his country in the IIHF world junior hockey championships fro the second straight year, he also obliterated his previous OHL career highs in goals (including playoffs), assists, and points. Between the OHL regular season and playoffs, Samorukov tallied 20 goals and 53 assists for 73 points in 83 games. Elite offensive production from any defenceman, let alone a former late 3rd round pick.
In fact, Samorukov’s 2018-19 season was so impressive, that it ranked 16th among all defenceman prospects, under the age of 21, who played at least 50 games below the NHL level, in terms of future value, according to fenwicka.com. For many teams, Samorukov may be the top blueline prospect, but he ranks a distant second in Edmonton to Evan Bouchard, who was hockey’s top ranked defender (and prospect, regardless of age or position) by this metric.
One of the coolest things about Samorukov’s 2018-19 season, was how he stepped up his game in the OHL playoffs. Samorukov recorded 10 goals and 28 games in 24 playoff games for the Guelph Storm, while also posting a plus/minus of +18. Those are 82 game paces of 34 goals, 96 points, and a +62 rating. Unbelievable boxcar stats, especially in the games that mattered most.
So, why isn’t he higher?
As impressive as Samorukov was last year, it was still his age-19 season in the OHL. Anyone with legitimate pro potential should be quite good by then. Fenwicka.com gives him a just over 79% chance of making the NHL, which is very high, and still fantastic relative to his draft slot, but this isn’t strictly a ranking of prospects, it’s all players under 25 in the organization. Every player ahead of him on this list is either younger than him, or has a pretty good chance of being a significant contributor to the big club in 2019-2020.
Still Samorukov will be a player to watch in the preseason this year, and likely one of, if not the player to watch in Bakersfield next season. If the Oilers are ever going to contend regularly, they’ll need significant contributions from players who weren’t drafted in the first round. Samorukov could, and probably should be one of those guys.