At the 2013 Entry draft (and for the second time this century) the Edmonton Oilers spent two of their first four selections on Russian kids playing in Russia. Stu MacGregor (and Oiler fans) are hoping it works out better the second time. 


At the 2000 draft, Edmonton spent their first round selection on big winger Alexei Mikhnov. The 6.05 winger had skating issues and went back to Russia (where he’s enjoyed a fine career in the Super League and now the KHL). At 31, he appears to be slowing, but for our purposes a 1st round selection who plays in 2 NHL games is the definition of draft bust. 

At least he played in the NHL. Later in that 2000 entry draft, the Oilers selected Alexander Ljubimov, who played exactly one season in North America (with the wonderfully named Odessa Jackalopes of the CHL) before returning to Russia. 

17th overall and 83rd overall, 2 NHL games. That’s not good. The Oilers have never traditionally made Russia a priority, but this past draft (with Nail Yakupov in the fold) the club took two more Russians in the same draft. 


The Oilers took big center Bogdan Yakimov and skill winger Anton Slepyshev in the third round of this season’s draft, the first Russians taken that high since Mikhnov and Ljubimov. 

It’s likely going to be a couple of years before we see these players (KHL contracts), but there’s definitely an interest in the Oilers, and at least some of the credit has to do with Yakupov (he’s opening doors to an area where Edmonton has had little or no success). 

So far this season, both men have had some success followed by long periods of inactivity/crickets in the boxcars:

  • Bogdan Yakimov 26, 5-5-10 +2 36sog 9:44TOI 60% faceoffs
  • Anton Slepyshev 17, 2-1-3 +2 19sog 9:57TOI

Yakimov is a big center (6.05, 202) and Slepyshev a fleet (6.02, 187) winger. Rob Vollman’s NHL equivalencies put the KHL numbers in perspective:

  • Yakimov 82, 12-13-25 (the actual NHLE is 24.6/82games)
  • Slepyshev 82, 7-4-11 (the actual NHLE is 11/29/82games)

These are early days, and the TOI total probably tells us that these are depth minutes being played by both prospects. However, Yakimov is tracking nicely so far—those are solid numbers for a 19-year old center—and Oiler fans should be encouraged by his showing this season. 


Teemu Hartikainen is having a nice season in the KHL (27, 9-10-19 -1) and Daniil Zharkov (26, 3-0-3 E) is also seeing some playing time over there. Hartikainen’s NHLE run through Vollman gives him 82, 22-23-45, and that’s a very nice number. I wonder if the Oilers consider bringing him back next season (Harski’s KHL deal is for two seasons but there’s usually an opt out in the contract). 


There are no sure things from the 2013 draft, but this Yakimov kid is tracking well. He’s a center, he’s 6.05 and he can post offense. There is no doubt the Oilers have noticed his progress. We wait. 

  • Truth

    @DSF Please take a moment to look at the NHL schedule for February. Little thing called the Olympics will be happening during that month.

    There will be a lot of lag left over that affect the participants. Meanwhile the Oilers major players will be rested and have more practice time with the coach’s to fix some of the ongoing issues.

    Other teams will losing some players over Christmas to the WJHC’s. McKinnon?

    What I am trying to point out DSF is that the season is a marathon. Early standing /20 games, do not a season make. Even though stats say otherwise. The stats show probability. Not the final result.

    The Oilers are a team that is growing and will continue to learn at a pace that a team this young is expected to. They are not a veteran laden team like Detroit or Anaheim. Or San Jose. The Oilers top forwards are being asked this season to compete against the top lines in the NHL. It will take time for Hall etal to reach that level.
    In my opinion they have the right management team in place. Including Klowe to get the job done. Eakins is the right guy. For this team. Sather was not all that and a bag of chips when he started coaching. Who was he? pbody. He hadn’t done squat before he took over the Oilers. What was his resume? Ex player kinda like Eakins. Not overly successful. Went into coaching because someone told him he had a knack for motivating players. Eakins is in same position that Sather was all those years ago. Less Wayne Gretzky. he might have a Mark Messier in Hall. Even a Jari Kurri in Yakupov. But for all that he has a very young team on the cusp of something special.

    Get on the bus and stay there. Bitch and whine DSF all you like but remember that a lot of us are not drinking the koolaid. But are realists and when it comes to this team there is and will be times when this team will fail to live up to its press. Its to expected. We don’t all have to like it. Including you. But this team will get better as it grows and learns under Eakins and his staff.

  • camdog

    Ah the enigmatic Russians. There don’t seem to be a ton of current examples of Russian NHL players who were drafted, then developed in the KHL only to come over here and light it up. They are either super stars who start in the North American system right away, or they flash in the pan for a while before going back over to the KHL.

    Having said that, I did, am, and will continue to enjoy the Belov signing. Every game I watch, he is a bright spot on the ice. Every once in a while he cramps up mentally, but every game he seems to learn the game more and more.

    As for our current Russian prospects and Hertikinen, I do hope they can translate their games to the NHL, but they need to show a bit more work, dedication, and commitment to doing so.

  • HardBoiledOil 1.0

    i dunno, camdog. teams knew about Brandon Saad, but passed on him because of some kind of issues he had, perhaps off ice? now more than a few are regretting that decision. the Hawks did get lucky with Andrew Shaw though. i certainly didn’t think he’d be this good, let alone so quickly!
    Detroit is just a freak show. you can’t really compare them to any other franchise. their ability to find quality players in the later rounds is unbelievable!