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. 

  • bwar

    Zack Kassian will keep hanging around the NHL because of his size but he lacks the skills to be a power forward. The Hodgson trade was only one of Gillis`s mistakes.

      • Johnnydapunk

        I completely agree, Belov has been a pleasant surprise this year, playing a simple but steady game while averaging close to 20 mins of ice time. Think he is a perfect example of why some Russian players choose to come to the NHL, to test themselves in the best league in the world. Think people kind of forget about him as he is never being interviewed or seemingly noticed.

  • DSF

    Hartikainen is outscoring Yakimov by a 2-1 ratio and, despite Hartikainen not being able to score much at all in the NHL you have come to the conclusion that Yakimov is “tracking nicely”?

    I understand Yakimov is a bit younger but an NHLE of 24 points is pretty underwhelming.

    About 25 NHL rookies are on pace to surpass that number this season.

    • Hartikainen is more than “a bit” older. And what has his TOI looked compared to Yakimov’s? What about his quality of line mates? Qualcomp? Zone starts? Without all the info it’s hard to make a fair assessment in either direction.

      • DSF

        Exactly…without more information, coming to the conclusion that a 3rd round pick, playing in a league that that sends precious few players to the NHL and then conclude the player is “tracking well” is ridiculous.

        There are currently only 25 Russians playing in the NHL and, with the difficulties of getting Russian prospects to come and play in North America, trading down and drafting two of them in the same draft borders on being insane.

        The number of Russians who make the move to the NHL is already very, very low and dropping every year so, if the player isn’t playing junior in North America, the chances of ever seeing them here is minimal at best.

        Russians in the NHL:

        2013/14 – 25

        2012/13 – 29

        2011/12 – 31

        2010/11 – 33

        2009/10 – 34

        2008/09 – 35

        2007/08 – 44

        2006/07 – 49

        Notice anything?

        • Hockey Problems 101

          All this shows is that teams are more reluctant to draft Russian players as there is a significant risk of the player choosing to stay “home” and play in the KHL, It is not a case of the talent not being available.

    • Craig1981

      I know you want to rip and insult the Oiler’s, but why not pick your battles? Slepyshev looks like a terrible pick. You could bring up his poor numbers or how he isn’t getting ice time to develop.

      I POTENTIALLY can find a negative view on prospects refreshing. After hearing how Nelson, Teubert, Pouliot, Schremp, etc. where going to be so great, I think fans greatly over value their prospects. That said I think the Oilers couldn’t of expected more from Yakimov at this point.

    • Lowetide

      Yakimov is posting these numbers in far few minutes.

      Hartikainen’s 19 points come in about 450 minutes, and his 2 powerplay goals indicate he’s getting some time there. Harski’s delivering about 2.56 points-per-60 and that includes powerplay time.

      Yakimov’s 10 points came in about 254 minutes, and he has no powerplay goals. Yakimov is delivering about 2.36 points-per-60 which also includes powerplay time.

      Yakimov’s having a fine season, especially considering how little he’s playing.

          • DSF

            Wow. DSF thinks he’s so smart trying to ask his stupid pretentious rhetorical question to a well supported response and gets completely owned by lowetide who takes it at face value in a professional manner.

            /impressed with Lowetide.

          • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

            We all like Lowetide…..however, he is way to emotional/optimistic when it comes to evaluating prospects…..but it’s ok once you realize that for him it’s like a hobby and a joyful thing….and , he’s just stating his opinion and there’s nothing wrong with that.

            Edit* and he keeps us updated

          • Lowetide

            His answer didn’t appear mindless at all, your question did.

            Your point had nothing to do with “many prospects in the world”.

            You asked a specific question about Yakimov using Hartikainen as a bench mark and got completely crushed with a one sentence reply.

            It’s rare to see such idiocy get crushed in such a simple manner.

      • camdog


        Stu Macgregor has been the teams head scout for 6 years now if my count is right. The Oilers historically have been horrible at drafting and subsequent development of good hockey players later in the draft.

        The question I have is how is Macgregor doing in comparison to other teams scouts or is it still to early to access his overall work?

        • Lowetide

          The 2008 draft report card is in, home run with Eberle and a nice pick later in Hartikainen. They had no second or third round pick, but that’s not the scouts fault. I’d give it a excellent grade because getting Eberle later in the first round was an outstanding value.

          2009 is pretty much in, and it was disappointing. Paajarvi looks like a player, but he’s taking longer than expected, and Lander is still trying to make the grade. I’m not certain how much blame to put on the scouts—the team brought Lander to the NHL way too early—but this draft probably gets a failing grade based on picking #10 overall.

          2010 has Hall, who I think was the right pick (others believe Seguin is the better player). Marincin looks like he’s going to be a player, Pitlick showed a little in his 3 games after not doing much in the minors, and guys like Davidson and Martindale are still trying.

          I’d say 2010 is a good draft that could be very good, but they left a lot on the table too.

          • camdog

            Thanks for the reply.

            In my opinion drafting a Seguin or a Hall is still a win for both clubs. Sure Eberle was a nice pick, but as an Oiler fan it’s really hard to evaluate our scouting the past 6 years, because first overall picks are easy to make. The Nurse pick was also a no brainer.

            What separates the winning and the successful rebuilds is drafting Lucic’s, Keith’s and the Zetterberg’s in the later rounds. Perpetual rebuilds fail to draft talented hockey players in the later rounds. As it stands I have no idea where the Oilers sit in this respect.

          • camdog

            Later round picks that turn into super stars are impossible to predict. You can have the best scouting staff in the world, but if you pick these guys and they turn into a Lucic, you essentially won the lottery. If these guys were actually projected by the scouts that picked them to be the players they are, they would all go number one.

            There is no such thing as a hockey crystal ball. Lucic is a great example of a plyer that inexplicably had a 32 goal jump from one year to the next. That is unheard of.

            As for the way Edmonton has drafted, it was nice to see the team put less priority on the coke machine last year and focus on some solid picks throughout the line up.

            I still think Hall over Seguin, because Seguin needs other players around him, and has not been the guy to carry a team.

    • 23 and 1/2 to 19 is “a bit younger” ive seen you use that type of argument to prove how despite scoring more the 23 year old is way worse because hes that much older.

      You’re really unbelievable. I get the disgruntled ex-fan thing. I get that you see this team in a different light then a lot of people around here. That’s all well and fine but you purposely just try and piss people off as an end game. That’s really not cool.

    • pkam

      Let’s use Zack Kassian as the measuring stick. He was drafted 1st round (13th overall), he got 10 pts in 40 games in his rookie season when he was 20, prorated to 20-21 pts in 82 games. He got basically the same prorated number last season. So far this season he got 5 pts in 18 games, on pace to 22 pts. And Canucks fans expect him to be their future power forward.

      If Kassian can be a power forward with 21-22 pts per season at 22 and after 2 NHL season, a 19 year old 3rd round pick with 25 NHLE points is not tracking nicely?

      If he is a Canucks prospect, Canucks fans will tell us he is better than Cody Hodgson.

      • Bucknuck

        I wanted to say this, but couldn’t come up with a way that woudl be understandable. You nailed it.

        He’s a first year pro and tracking well already. IMagine when he fills out that frame of his. I am excited about this pick. Also excited about Khaira.

  • Lowetide

    What role do you see with the Oilers? Guy had a top 6 role sitting on a plate for two years and played like he was 5’8′ except when he occasionally cycled the puck.

    Joensuu essentially provided the Oilers with a bigger body and is a better two way player. We got more outta JF Jacque or Brad Winchester then we saw outta him.

    • pkam

      We have drafted some men with size ( hopefully some meaness) in Khairia, Kessy, Chase, Moroz and Omark.

      One of these fine fellows should be able to make the bigs and get physical.

    • Lowetide

      I don’t think Joensuu has proven anything beyond that wonderful 1st period in game one. Since returning, he’s been matzo balls. Tough with a back problem, but that’s the job.

      • DSF

        Still more then Hartski. Joensuu may not produce the way we might want, but he does show the propensity to engage the opposition. He will facewash, go hard to the net, and he skates well. Teemu is a poor skater, plays soft, and did not produce in 50 odd games.

        I think with proper developement he could be a valuable net front presence on the PP. I would like to see him groomed him into penalty killer role.

        I’d love to see Hartski come back too but there’s no way you give him a one way. Guys got to show compete and produce and improve his skating.

  • Retsinnab5

    Any good goaltenders over there?

    LT, do you think that life in the KHL has improved to the point that it is causing some if not all Russians to stay where they are.

    There is nothing like home cooked food, friends, and time off to enjoy the fruits of your labour……just wondering if the days of drafting Russians is coming to a logical end?

    • Lowetide

      I think the pull of playing in the best league in the world will be too strong. Suspect role players will stay (and be well paid) but for guys who can play at a very high level the NHL is the ultimate.

      I have no idea if these fellows are NHL calibre, but that Yakimov fellow looks good so far.