I forgot about him. He’s Dmitry Zlodeyev, the Vancouver Canucks only player connection to the 2022 World Junior Championship starting Boxing Day in Alberta. Hey, if you’re into rooting for anything Canucks, start rooting for Russia, there are no other Vancouver prospects involved.
Zlodeyev played two games with Spartak Moscow in the KHL so far this season with no stats other than losing five of six face-off opportunities. Actually he was a plus-one. The Canucks 6th-round pick in 2020, 175th overall, will turn age-20 on February 15th and is under contract until the end of April 2022.
Zlodeyev is a checking centre playing in the VHL, which translates to the ‘Supreme Hockey League’, one professional tier below the KHL. It would be the Russian equivalent of the AHL where he plays for Khimik in Voskresensk, about 90 clicks southeast of Moscow. Zlodeyev, known for two-way hockey and his leadership abilities, was recently named one of the assistant captains for Russia in the WJC. The lefty will likely centre the third or fourth line when Team Russia opens against Sweden in the early game on Boxing Day in Red Deer.
Along with Russia and Sweden, Group B consists of the USA, Slovakia and Switzerland.
There’s a reason I forgot him. There’s a limited chance in Hades that he’ll ever play in the NHL. He has limited talent and he’s injury prone. What he does have, and this is why we can’t count him out, is work ethic. Any hockey player who outworks everyone else, even if it’s just on the fourth line, stands a chance. And of course he’s still very young.
At the time he was drafted, Goran Stubb, the European head of NHL Central Scouting said of the player, “good puck control and good at winning one-on-one battles.”
Will he sign with the Canucks and end up in Abbotsford next season? There’s not exactly a glut of young centre prospects in the organization, mainly due to the fact that the recent refurbish or rehaul has been limited in high picks the last two years and a solid hunk of the others were spent on defenceman.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but the only other centre pick was Connor Lockhart, a fellow six-rounder taken in 2021.
I rarely write about 6th rounders, but I do cover a lot of international hockey and got pissed at myself when I overlooked this kid while tweeting about the WJC. So here he is, and now I’m very curious to see how he does.
Enjoy the often crazy action of the World Juniors.