February 15 2009 09:59AM
Slava Trukhno (whose first name is variously spelled Viacheslav, Vyacheslav or Viatcheslav) was a fourth round pick of the Oilers in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. Trukhno had come over to North America for the 2004-05 season, finishing second in scoring on the QMJHL’s PEI Rocket with a modest 59 points.
Let’s look at Trukhno’s numbers over his junior career:
2004-05: 64GP – 25G – 34A – 59 PTS – -2 2005-06: 60GP – 28G – 68A – 96 PTS – -1 2006-07: 60GP – 25G – 77A – 102 PTS – +5
The 2004-05 Rocket were coached by Alain Vigneault, but that didn’t stop them from being a lousy team. They posted a 24-39-7 record, scoring 198 goals and allowing 260, for a team total of -62 (the unfortunate Tyler Hawes, who posted the worst mark on the team, was -37). A lack of offense was the major problem; 20-year old Pierre-Andre Bureau led the team with 66 points in 70 games, with Trukhno close behind. Trukhno’s -2 rating was one of the best on his team, and draft day reports indicated that Trukhno was very capable defensively.
If anything, the 2005-06 edition of the Rocket was even worse than the preceding season’s. They went 25-38-7, scoring 221 goals and allowing 304 against for a team +/- of -83. Trukhno, however, was a revelation in all areas of the game. His 96 points easily led the team (the next closest forward managed 67), while no player with more than ten games surpassed his -1 mark on the season. Guy Flaming reviewed his progress early in the year, and collected some very positive reports from different scouts:
“He’s the main catalyst on that team - how he goes, so does the team.”
“He’s a bit of an enigma like a lot of Russians, but he’s spent enough time away from Russia in Denmark that now, after a year and a half over here, he’s learning what it takes to be a team guy and a player.”
“He has to show a little more urgency in his game, but when he has the puck he can dominate. His skating has improved and his emotion has improved. We didn’t draft him because of his physical play but he’s certainly showing up and taking care of his own battles.”
“It’s funny, I saw him in Moncton and he’ll do some things with the puck and then he’ll sleep through a couple of shifts and then he’ll get an assist or score a goal.”
“He’s pitching in on about 90 percent on the points that team gets. On the power play he dominates because he passes the puck so well.”
Perhaps most interesting was the anecdote related to Flaming by another scout:
One instance that seems to confirm the scouting report came during a game where a line brawl broke out between his team and a squad that took advantage of the smaller, weaker Rocket line on the ice. Trukhno had to watch the fisticuffs from the bench, but decided to address the situation a short time later. “A couple minutes later, the guy who starts the line brawl comes out of the penalty box and Trukhno lines up right next to him and smacks him on the shin pads and says ‘OK, let’s go’ and fought the kid and beat him,” a scout recounted. “A guy I was there with said ‘That’s Trukhno!?’ and I laughed because it surprised the heck out of me too!” “He just came out and decided ‘OK, nobody’s going to push my guys around,’” the scout summed up. “It was very good to see.”
At the end of 2005-06, Trukhno requested a trade and management obliged, sending him to the Gatineau Olympiques. At first glance, 2006-07 looks like Trukhno’s best overall season, but I’d argue that at best he maintained the status quo, or even regressed a little bit. Gatineau went 39-27-4 in 2006-07, scoring 303 goals and allowing 274. The previous season, Trukhno recorded points on better than 43% of his team’s goals; in 2006-07 that slipped to 34%. His moderately better point totals came alongside Flyers’ first-round selection Claude Giroux, while his +5 rating was still good, but came on a team that was +29 as a whole. Also disturbing, for the second year in a row Trukhno slumped as the season went on; he managed 32 points in the first 12 games of the year, and only 74 in the remaining 48. That’s a drop from 2.67 points per game to 1.54 - nearly half.
Trukhno turned pro for 2007-08, and had a slow start to training camp with the Oilers (although he apparently won the rookie camp ping-pong tournament), but improved as camp went on, earning some high praise from Craig MacTavish:
He's a player. He's strong, sees the ice well and knows where to put the puck. On the power play, he sees all his options and he explores them all. He makes it tough on the defenders.
Trukhno was eventually assigned to the Falcons, where he had an uninspired start to the season and rather ordinary stats on the season (64GP – 14G – 21A – 35PTS, -16). His -16 mark came on a team that was -43 as a whole, so while it was below average it wasn’t the worst mark on the team. Trukhno’s 35 points meant that he was in on 16.4% of Springfield’s total offense, and given that he missed 16 games that number jumps up to around 20%. On a positive note, Trukhno was red-hot down the stretch, scoring most of his points during the Falcons’ unsuccessful stretch run.
Much more was expected out of Trukhno this season, and on the surface he’s failed to take a step forward. Injured for much of the year, Trukhno’s only played in 35 of Springfield’s 53 games, recording 5 goals, 14 assists and a -9 rating. However, as Lowetide pointed out last week, this Falcons team is even more inept than last season’s squad. They’re already -46 as a team, which puts Trukhno’s +/- at around the average mark again. Trukhno’s 19 points mean that he was in on 16.0% of Springfield’s total offense, which is close to last year’s pace, but when you consider that he’s missed a full third of the schedule, the number jumps to the 24% ballpark, so he is moving forward, albeit incrementally.
Trukhno has some time. He turned 22 on February 2nd and he has one year remaining in his entry level contract, but he really needs to take full advantage of that time, because as it stands he does not project to be an NHL player. If I had to re-do these rankings today, he’d be out of the top-10.
NHL Contract Status: 661K per season until 2009-10, pending RFA AHL Performance Compares To: Marc Pouliot Projection: A long career in the KHL or Elitserien