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Grading the Maple Leafs’ 2020 NHL Draft Class: Dmitri Ovchinnikov

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

Dmitri Ovchinnikov

Drafted: Round 5, 137th overall
Age: Turned 18 on August 19th
Height: 5’11
Weight: 163 lbs
Position: LW/C
2019-20 Season: 24g/31a/55p in 54 games with the Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk (MHL), 0g/0a/0p in 2 games with Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)
2020-21 Season as of October 7th: 5g/5a/10p in 7 games with the Sibirskie Snaipery Novosibirsk (MHL), 0g/0a/0p in 3 games with Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL)
Projected Draft Position: Late-Fourth Round to Late-Sixth Round

Three words. Boom. Or. Bust.

Dmitri Ovchinnikov is such an intriguing prospect, I love this pick from the Leafs. He’s just exactly who you want to pick in the 5th round, someone you can come back to in a few years and he’s suddenly one of your top prospects.

The best word to describe Ovchinnikov is “Potential”.

Let’s dive into his game. Offensively, he’s a STUD. Ovchinnikov is built to be a star, but he’s lightyears away (see what I did there?).

He’s an incredibly quick skater, zooming past the opposing defense. His skating makes him such a difficult skater to watch out for on defense, using his speed and skating ability to deceive his opponent.

This could become lethal paired with his brilliant stickhandling. Even though he’s outmuscled easily, he makes sure to limit that from being an option by just turning opposing defenses inside out. He’s not afraid to drive right to the net, which is where a lot of his goal production comes from.

His wrist shot is surprisingly strong, and he uses it as a weapon when needed. His hockey IQ and vision help a lot there, he’s able to get into open spaces and get a high-quality chance.

His playmaking skills are amazing as well. He’s able to use his speed, vision, and accuracy to find open teammates ready to create a chance.

His lethal toolbox is a problem for any opponent… except for one problem.

He’s just so easy to push away and knock down. Unlike other smaller players the Leafs have drafted, Ovchinnikov really plays like he’s small. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it’s like you could blow on him and he’ll fall. You can also tell that he’s smart enough to know when he’ll get outmuscled, sometimes hesitating from cutting through too much traffic if he doesn’t think he can slickly maneuver through it.

Defensively, he’s not bad, he’s able to limit offense and also stay ready for when his team has possession. However, his lack of strength limits him here once again. It’s not uncommon for him to get outmuscled.

Now, this creates an enigma for Ovchinnikov and the Leafs. Ovchinnikov plays small, and that’s what makes him such a pain to try stopping. However, if you’re bigger, it isn’t hard to stop Ovchinnikov at all, and that’ll plague him at the pro levels.

How do you make Ovchinnikov stronger without taking away the quick deceptiveness that makes him so special?

Either way, I think Ovchinnikov would actually benefit from gaining strength in his legs/core area. He falls down too easily and, hopefully, it could serve to aid his skating abilities.

There’s also the fact that he’s just not good at faceoffs. That could also be a strength issue, but it’s likely the reason that he no longer plays centre often.

Grade: A

I want to give this pick an A+ so badly, but I feel as if I should be a bit impartial here.

Ovchinnikov is a long way away from the NHL. It’s completely possible that we just never hear about the kid again as he produces in the KHL.

However, if he ever does become good enough to make the NHL, he’ll be a second liner at least, guaranteed in my opinion.

Dmitri Ovchinnikov is the type of guy who just develops in Russia, signs with the Leafs at 24, and wins the Calder.

He plays like a star, I can’t think of a player in the NHL who plays like him and isn’t a star.

The overlying issue is this. If Dmitri Ovchinnikov wants to find success in the NHL, he’s going to have to gain a very significant amount of muscle. I’m not talking about the stuff that’ll come with age and normal training, which is the case with a few other guys on this list. It’s going to take significant effort in the gym for Ovchinnikov to find success in any high-level professional league, that includes the KHL.

Watch out for #97, though. If he puts the effort in, he could become a star.

If I have to project him, I think he has top-six potential in the NHL. More likely to be an energetic forward on the second line, but he has star potential.

An overlooked component for his success: Can he work his way to become a centre in the KHL with added strength? Something that could help him if he does make the NHL.


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Spencer White
Spencer White is a Managing Editor of Hockey and MMA at Overtime Heroics. He writes about hockey, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Newfoundland Growlers, and the Toronto Six. Spencer is also the Director of Gaming at Overtime Heroics. You can find him on Twitter at @klapanen, @SpencerWhiteOTH, and @LeafsMoves.
http://overtimeheroics.net

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