Grading the Maple Leafs’ 2020 NHL Draft Class: Rodion Amirov

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Here’s my analysis and scouting report for Leafs draftee Rodion Amirov. If you’re interested, check out the full article here.

Rodion Amirov

Drafted: Round 1, 15th overall
Age: Turned 19 on October 2nd
Height: 6’0
Weight: 168 lbs
Position: LW
2019-20 Season: 10g/12a/22p in 17 games with Tolpar Ufa (MHL), 1g/2a/3p in 5 games with Toros Neftekamsk (VHL), 0g/2a/2p in 21 games with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
2020-21 Season as of October 7th: 1g/1a/2p in 3 games with Toros Neftekamsk (VHL), 3g/2a/5p in 10 games with Salavat Yulaev Ufa (KHL)
Projected Draft Position: Mid-First Round

Leafs fans, get hyped for Rodion Amirov. This should come as no surprise, this is one of the deepest forward drafts in a while, but the kid is going to be good.

Let’s talk about his offensive game first. Although it’s not his strong point, Rodion Amirov’s shot is something I’ve noticed a lot about him. He has a lot of confidence in his shot, he’s been using it frequently in the KHL. He has a nifty, quick release on his wrist shot, and he knows when to use it. I think that if he works on it more, it could become a useful weapon for him in the NHL. However, it just hasn’t been working at the KHL level, with a lot of his quick wrist shots ending up into low-quality chances.

This beauty from this season is an example of what he can do with his shot.

What has been a weapon for him was shown in his first two KHL goals, both in the same game this season.

Amirov has a brilliant nose for the net, even though he’s not the primary net-front presence on this play, he’s able to properly use his vision and hockey IQ to find the puck and stuff it into the net.

His playmaking skills are great as well. He’s able to effectively move the puck, even at the KHL level at just 19 years of age. He uses his vision and creativity to distribute the puck. Even if he’s not the guy making the flashy play at the pro level yet, he’s still an accurate passer. He does the simple things well, effectively breaking out of his zone, making sharp passes to his teammates, etc.

Sometimes, though, he’s caught just dumping the puck in, or trying to be way more flashy on plays than he should be. That’s a normal part of hockey, but it’s just something Amirov should limit as he makes his way to the NHL.

He’s a great skater, strong on his feet with good acceleration abilities.

His hockey IQ just ties this all together. Offensively, he’s able to create chances. A lot of the time, they’re wrist shots from the circles. However, he’s also used his high hockey IQ to aid him in puck battles in front of the net, something that could make him almost a lethal presence in the future.

Flashy offense isn’t what Amirov is known for, though. Amirov is a 200-foot player, one of the most solid two-way forwards in this draft. That’s where his hockey IQ and vision are a great help as well. He’s able to figure out where he needs to be, and using his skating skills, along with his workhorse play, he rarely leaves a gap on defense.

This combination of skill and effort is what I think will make Amirov a force with the Leafs.

Something I think he needs to work on: Filling that frame out.

What’s interesting, however, is that Amirov’s agent, Dan Milstein, claims that Amirov is already closer to 6’1 and 180 lbs… something to watch out for.

With most players, a lot of muscle gain might hinder their performance, however, I think it’s different with Amirov. In the MHL, he definitely looked like a man amongst kids, but that changed quickly as soon as he got to the pros. While his incredible work ethic still aids him, it’s clear that he gets outmuscled at times. I also think gaining strength will help some of the issues with his shot.

But that all comes with time, and Amirov will likely take his time to develop in Russia. 

Amirov projects to be a very solid top-six player. A great complimentary guy on either line. Even before he reaches that, he’ll likely find success on the third line when he does reach the NHL.

Amirov gives the Leafs another piece they can shuffle beside and around their core of Matthews, Nylander, and Marner, who will likely be in their prime when Amirov reaches top-6 level in the NHL.

I think Rodion Amirov is who Jim Rutherford thinks Kasperi Kapanen is. Quick (although not as much as Kapanen), creative, workhorse player who will produce as a complementary player in an NHL team’s top-6 while playing a great 200-foot game.

With his progression at 19 already producing against men, I think he’s closer to the NHL than you’d think.

Grade: A

Amirov is a high-value pick that will reap high rewards for the Leafs. The key to an A+ is out of the Leafs’ hands here. I felt as if only a top-10 steal would warrant an A+.

I think this is a much better pick than picking a defenseman. Amirov will provide more value, whether it’s on the ice or via trade, than what I’d believe a guy like Braden Schneider and Kaiden Guhle would. He’s going to be a key piece of the Leafs’ future, a force to be reckoned with in blue and white.

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Spencer White is an Editor of Hockey at Overtime Heroics. He writes about hockey, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Newfoundland Growlers, and the Toronto Six. You can find him on Twitter at @FreeNylander, @MagicianMarner, and @LeafsMoves.