Kirill Kudryavtsev – Canucks 7th-round NHL Draft pick in 2022
Position: Left-shot defenceman for OHL Soo Greyhounds
Contract Status: Signed two-way, three year entry-level deal on March 10th, 2023
Kudryavtsev moved pucks effectively and played solid minutes for the Soo Greyhounds in the Ontario Hockey League during his first season in North America. The first impression he left in 2021-’22 was that he was sneaky good and surprisingly creative. The Vancouver Canucks went ahead at the 2022 NHL Draft and picked the lefty D-man in the 7th-round with the 208th overall pick.
They’re obviously hoping he’s the surprise of the draft.
“His transition to the small ice was rather seamless, earning immediate top-four minutes and making his presence felt on the scoresheet. With 39 points (5-34-39), the Russian defender finished third among rookie defenders league-wide.“
That according to Dave Hall of Dobber Prospects after last season.
The recently turned 19-year-old from Yaroslavl, Russia picked up where he left off so far this season with 45 points in 62 games back in the Soo. His defensive numbers have slipped a bit, but then again so have the Greyhounds, sitting next-to-last in the OHL’s western conference. Last season they finished fourth.
Kudryavtsev managed to put up points in all of his international junior venues up until now, whether it was playing for Russia in Under-16 tournaments, in the junior leagues back home, or at the 2021 Under-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup. He helped his team win that four-team summer tourney by chipping in a goal and an assist in five games.
When he arrived in Ontario, he jumped right into a top-four role on the blueline.
“He’s worked himself well up into their line-up this year,” Vancouver Canucks Director of Amateur Scouting Todd Harvey said at the NHL Draft in July.
Eight months later on March 10th, the Canucks signed the D-man to a three-year, entry-level deal worth $850,000 at the NHL level, and $80,000 when playing in the minors. It kicks in for next season.
“Kirill has had a good season so far and our development team has been happy with his progress in the OHL,” stated Canucks GM Patrik Allvin after the signing. “Our group looks forward to the opportunity to continue to work with him and get him ready for a pro career.”
Pros and Cons
It would seem consistent compete-level could be an issue for now as this teenager matures mentally and physically, although he’s already a decent size at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds. He’ll add strength to go with his two-way skating game that has upside.
Whether it’s the first round or the last, teams try to select the best player available regardless of position. Harvey pointed out at the draft that the Canucks had a very good feel for this player and were excited to get him where they got him.
Canucks fans had an opportunity to see him play in Penticton at the Young Stars Classic in September. He proved there’s still plenty of work to be done.
It will be a patient development path, but there might be a pleasant surprise waiting in Kudryavtsev.