Could the Kings' fourth round choice wind up being their best pick overall this year?
Only time will tell, but at least one draft-watcher ranked this big-bodied Russian playmaker higher than Tanner Pearson.
Nikolai Prokhorkin is billed as a tough, skilled forward who plays North American style game. This 18-year-old who excels at center (though is listed as a LW) is praised for his passing ability and on-ice vision, yet also isn't afraid to mix it up and rack up penalty minutes.
Ranked 9th among European skaters, the ever-present KHL deterrent--and the fact that he didn't get exposure in international tournaments--seems to have led to his fall to the end of the fourth round. I am absolutely thrilled about this pick. Many thought he would be taken in the 2nd or 3rd.
Will he come over to North America right away? I haven't seen concrete information on his contract status yet, but if he's anything like Lombardi's other Russian prospects, it's a good bet that Prokhorkin expressed interest in coming over. In his post-draft interview, via a translator, he was asked what his plans were for next year. He replied, "Of course try to make the team, obviously."
Many thanks to Steve Lepore of Puck The Media for sharing this with us.
More in-depth scouting reports and his career stats after the jump.
Corey Pronman, Hockey Prospectus (Ranked #22 Overall):
The late birthdate has been a scoring force in Russia's Junior league the last two years and has gotten a small amount of KHL action as well. He is listed as a winger, but he plays center and excels as a center. He has not played in major international events, so he doesn't get the limelight but he deserves it. Prokhorkin is a skilled forward with above-average puck-handling abilities who can make things happen in open ice. His best trait is his hockey sense and vision as he's a very creative playmaker who really finds his linemates well and makes a lot of things happen on the ice by being a focal point of the attack. Now while he's a gifted passer, he isn't an over-passer and has the ability to be a decent finisher as well. Prokhorkin is an average skater—not your typical Russian blazer—but he can move just fine. Where Prokhorkin deviates pleasantly from the stereotype for a skilled Russian is he's a big-body forward who likes to play physically. He still needs to put on a fair amount of muscle, but the North American game shouldn't be an issue at all for Prokhorkin.
The Scouting Report (Ranked #44 Overall):
Prokhorkin battled some injuries throughout the season (surprise), but put up some very impressive numbers as an 18-year-old in the MHL this season and saw some limited duty with the CSKA KHL squad. Prohorkin is a skilled winger who has good size and a proven ability to score goals. Transfer issues are sure to be a concern with the Russian winger, but his talent definitely is enough to warrant a Top 50 pick on merit alone. With injuries and transfer concerns, don’t be surprised to see Prokhorkin fall on draft day and provide a team with a nice value pick later in the draft.
McKeen's (Ranked #77 Overall):
Via this Globe and Mail article, we learn that McKeen's had this to say about Prokhorkin:
His lack of speed was exposed at the KHL level... he scores high in work ethic, character and attitude...could be useful as a depth forward at the pro level.
Some difference of opinion emerges between those who see top six potential in Prokhorkin and this scouting report. As we've seen time after time, LA's scouting staff doesn't seem to mind if a player needs to work on his skating so long as he brings other valuable qualities to the table (in this case, size and playmaking ability).
Here are some highlights set to some fabulous music.
Prokhorkin also appeared as a guest on the "Joining the Rush" show (his spot is around the 11:00 mark). He mentions that he was interviewed by five teams at the Combine. Bonus points for a great sense of humor:
So there you have it. With the last pick in the fourth round, the Kings scouting staff may have gotten tremendous value. As they didn't have many picks in this draft, I love this choice.
What say you?