Stars Select Guryanov: KHL Factor Not a Big Concern
For the second time in the last three NHL Drafts, the Dallas Stars have taken a KHL-affiliated Russian player with their first round pick. First came Valeri Nichushkin
with the 10th overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft. After taking Finnish defenseman Julius Honka
with the 14th pick last year, Stars general manager Jim Nill
opted for Lada Togliatti right winger Denis Guryanov
with the 12th overall pick of the 2015 Draft.
Earlier this week, I wrote a piece on the Flyers' blog about the lessening concerns about the so-called KHL Factor in the NHL Draft. I mentioned Guryanov's case in the blog:
In Guryanov's case, a first-round selection... would be more a reflection of changes in the bigger picture -- the expected creation of a multi-year NHL transfer agreement with the Russian Hockey Federation and the economic downturn in Russia with a corresponding effect on the KHL and its affiliated junior (MHL) and minor (VHL) leagues.
The Hockey News' 66th overall ranking on Guryanov is way out of line with where all the scouting services and the mainstream pundits place him. Big and strong on his skates with above-average stickhandling and shooting ability, the winger is ranked 24th overall by International Scouting Services, 21st overall by Bob McKenzie on the TSN list, 20th by Craig Button and 22nd by McKeen's. Central Scouting placed him seventh on its European list behind.
While THN is a highly respected source that bases its ratings on input from a panel of NHL scouts, whose anonymity is scrupulously protected, the publication is far from infallible when it comes to ranking and projecting European players in particular in their Draft Preview. Infamously, THN described Peter Forsberg in 1991 and a second-rounder who could slip into the late first round before the Flyers took him sixth overall. More recently, THN omitted Erik Karlsson from its top 50 in 2008 before the Ottawa Senators selected the future Norris Trophy winner in the first round.
That is not to say that Guryanov is a lock for future NHL stardom or even that he is absolutely certain to get taken in the first round. Rather, it simply means that Guryanov has some good company in being projected much lower by THN's scout contributors than other NHL franchises are likely to value him in this draft.
Although Guryanov's KHL contract runs through 2016-17, it should not be a big problem to get him over to North America when the Stars deem him to be NHL-ready. He can use seasoning in the KHL, anyway, because he'd be playing against grown men and a pretty high level of competition even if the KHL's big-rink style of play differs somewhat from the North American leagues. In terms of tools, Guryanov is first-rate: size, speed and skill. He has done well for himself thus far internationally as well as in Russia's junior-level MHL circuit.
Guryanov has NHL impact-player potential given proper development. It will take time and patience, however. ]
Barring any trades that involving adding or deleting picks, the Stars will make the following selections on the second day of the NHL Draft:
2nd round: 49th overall
3rd round: No selection
4th round: 103rd overall
5th round: 133rd overall
6th round: 163rd overall
7th round: 193rd overall