Jonathan Briggins profiles a top prospect for the 2013 draft.
Playing in a town in northern Quebec generally means a player doesn’t get the media attention they would playing in a bigger junior city such as Halifax, London, or Portland.
Russian draft prospect Valentin Zykov plays for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in a town of close to 29, 000 people located six hours north of Quebec City. Picking up the Michel Bergeron Trophy for Offensive Rookie of the Year in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League is one way to grab some attention, though.
The 6-1, 215 pound Zykov is a right winger from St. Petersburg, Russia. The Drakkar got a steal, selecting him 76th overall in the second round of the 2012 CHL import draft.
"I came to Canada to be a better player and improve myself. In Russia I didn't have a lot of ice time,” Zykov told Halifax Mooseheads radio personality John Moore.
Breaking out in the Q
Zykov had an outstanding rookie season for the Drakkar, a team that finished second overall in the Q during the regular season. He led all rookies in points and goals, netting 40 goals and 35 assists for 75 total points along with 60 penalty minutes. He had a particularly strong January, potting ten goals and 16 assists in 12 games. Columbus Blue Jacket draft pick Petr Straka was his only Drakkar teammate with more points on the season.
In the Drakkar’s first round series sweep of the Sherbrooke Phoenix this week, Zykov scored thee goals and added three assists.
While Zykov didn’t crack Russia’s World Junior roster in Ufa, expect to hear his name plenty next year in Malmo, Sweden. Zykov impressed scouts during the Subway Series where he had a goal and assist playing on a line with Penguins prospec Anton Zlobin and Sabres first rounder Mikhail Grigorkeno for team Russia versus the QMJHL team.
Zykov currently sits at 15th in International Scouting Services March 2013 ranking, a spot where he has hovered around since January. In December, he wasn’t even in the top 30. NHL Central Scouting has him ranked as the eighth best North American skater in its midterm report.
Don’t be afraid in fantasy drafts
Last week in my column, I talked about fellow Russian draft prospect Valeri Nichushkin and why fantasy owners who draft him will have to have lots of patience and be willing to accept some risk to wait for his KHL contract to expire and hope he comes to North America. Zykov is in North America and wants to play in the NHL and is willing to work on his overall game to get there. Sure the Russian factor seems to scare off both real general managers and fantasy managers, but that shouldn’t be the case with Zykov.
The hard working winger has speed, size and can score and the potential to be a top six forward with some time to develop in the AHL. In leagues that count penalty minutes he will have some added value since he will get you points in the category. Owners will still have to use patience as he develops, but don’t be worried about him bolting back to Russia.
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