LW, Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
6’0″ // 168lbs
Skilled Scoring Winger
- Crafty scorer—has the ability to score goals himself in a variety of ways while also setting his teammates up with some very nice chances.
- Does a great job finding teammates. Scans the ice and reads the game very well. “Problem solver” is a term I have seen used more on Hockey Twitter, and Amirov is one of those.
- Amirov has a very good shot that is lethal from all areas of the offensive zone. He has a hard shot that comes with exquisite precision.
- Amirov has a tendency to look for high danger opportunities, cutting into open areas in the mid-to-high slot very often.
- Not as dynamic as some of his Russian counterparts such as Marat Khusnutdinov, but is still shifty and has a slick set of hands that allow him to make some filthy moves, as you can see below.
- Amirov has a very good first few steps, allowing him to get to his top speed quickly.
- While Amirov’s acceleration is very good, and he does get to the top speed quickly, his actual top speed itself has room for improvement. It’s not bad but as I’ve seen others in the prospect world mention—he’s lacking that extra gear.
- His agility and balance is great, changes direction with ease and does it seamlessly.
Incredibly Smart, Reliable Player, doesn’t make mistakes
- Plays an incredible mature game for an 18 year old. Amirov’s Hockey IQ is his best asset. He almost never makes a mistake and is sound in all three zones. Knows when and where to distribute the puck and rarely turns it over—something we rarely see out of young Russians. His poise and precision in his decision making is one of his best assets.
- This is evidenced by his ice-time in the KHL. So often we will see young Russian players get absurdly little amounts of ice-time in the KHL. Amirov averaged 9:53 of ice time in his 21 games for Ufa this season.
Elite Two-Way Game
- Amirov’s effort and tenacity makes him a dangerous forechecker—causing a pain for defenders trying to retrieve pucks and get it out of the zone.
- As you’ll see in Finlay Sherratt’s tracking data, Amirov struggled in transition while playing in the KHL. However, he looked much better in the MHL when he was making controlled exits/entries.
- Amirov’s relentless work ethic doesn’t just magically disappear in the defensive zone. Amirov is constantly back-checking and staying on-top of his defensive assignments.
- Plays big minutes on both the power-play, and the penalty kill.
- It is extremely hard to find any flaws in Amirov’s game—He’s a great player. Nitpicking here, it could help Amirov to bulk up. EliteProspects currently has him listed at 6’0″, 168lbs. There is certainly room to fill out that frame. I wouldn’t even call it a weakness per say, but there are certainly instances in which he would have benefited from being a stronger player against men in the KHL this season. All in all, this should subdue with time.
(Amirov is wearing #27 in Green)
(Amirov is highlighted)
Rodion Amirov did not have a fantastic season statistically in the KHL, but that’s completely ok. To expect a plethora of points coming from a draft eligible player in the 2nd best league in the world is completely unreasonable unless you’re a generational player. In his confined environment, Amirov did quite alright. He only had 2 assists in 21 games with Ufa this season in the KHL. However, when playing with his peers in the MHL, Amirov was a gear above everyone else. He had 22 points (10 goals, 12 assists) in 17 games while playing for the Ufa junior program, and had 3 points (1 goal, 2 assists) while playing for Ufa’s VHL team. His PPG (1.29) led all first year draft eligibles in the MHL. Another encouraging stat—20 of his 22 points were primary points (meaning they were either a goal, or he had the main assist). In addition, 13 of his 20 primary points came at even-strength, another 6 came on the power-play, and one came shorthanded. His production as a whole (in both the MHL and VHL) was arguably superior to that of 2019 Vancouver Canucks’ first rounder Vasili Podkolzin.
TPN’s own Finlay Sherratt tracked 5 of Rodion Amirov’s games in the KHL this season (you can check out the full tracking project here).
In a limited sample size, Finlay found that Amirov struggled in transition and the shots attempts department. However, one area in which Amirov excelled was in setting up his teammates with quality chances. Finlay stated “Amirov’s lack of success can most likely be attributed to his quality of competition. He spent a majority of his year in the KHL, where I tracked all 5 of his games. It could be argued that Amirov performed admirably for a teenager in the KHL, getting 10.5 shot assists per 60. On the other hand, his transitional could definitely use some work. He was only managing 6.7 total exits per 60 and 9.7 controlled entries per 60. It will be interesting to see what this case looks like in retrospect as Amirov is the first player I’ve tracked that has played consistently in the KHL.” I would expect Amirov’s tracking data to look better in 2020-21 now that he has a KHL season with extremely tough competition under his belt and will have ample time to prepare for the upcoming season.
In conclusion, I have been a huge fan of Rodion Amirov since he lit up the 2019 IIHF World U18 Championships. Amirov followed that up with a very good 2019-20 season and shot up many draft boards as a result. He presents almost no flaws coming out of Russia (something we don’t see too often) and projects as a top-six scoring forward in the NHL. He is fully capable of becoming a 50-60 point player who is a mainstay on both the powerplay and penalty kill. Amirov is a refined two-way player whose hockey IQ is off the charts. He reads and thinks the game so well for a young player—which I think NHL teams will love. I wholeheartedly believe Amirov would be a fine pick anywhere from the 9-15 range. Anything later than that and some team will be getting a steal.
Stats via KHL.ru and pick224.com
Featured image from KHL.ru