Aside from having a name which lends itself exceptionally well to a “DREW” or “LUC”-style serenade, Shafigullin has some numbers which should excite Kings fans. He led the MHL — that’s the Molodyozhnaya Hokkeinaya Liga, the KHL’s development league — in points per game (1.64) among players with at least 20 games played. His playoff performance was equally impressive, as he helped take a seventh-place team to the conference finals with a league-leading 15 points in just 9 games. More importantly, he did that as an 18-year-old, in a league where the other scoring leaders were past their draft seasons. Shafigullin played 17 games in the KHL as well, notching two assists for Nizhnekamsk Neftekhimik.
Your thoughts might have initially jumped to Alexander Dergachyov, a third-round pick of the Kings’ from Russia in 2015. Dergachyov had impressive scoring totals in the MHL in his pre-draft season as well, but his 39 points in 45 games didn’t even touch Shafigullin’s production. Dergachyov was also picked largely because, as his Elite Prospects page indicates, he was a “huge unit.” (In awe at the size of that lad.)
Shafigullin seems different; he’s got relatively normal size and less strength than Dergachyov, but his agility and puck handling offer him a better pathway into today’s NHL. Assuming Shafigullin stays in Russia next season, we might see a glimpse of his KHL play, which could give us some additional insight.