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Photo Credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images

SAMORUKOV: A Rare Breed

Dmitri Samorukov is a rare breed for the Edmonton Oilers. He’s a player drafted outside of the top two rounds that appears to be skyrocketing towards the National Hockey League.

The Oilers have had little success over the past decade finding these types of players. The only exception may end up being 2015 when they drafted Caleb Jones in the 4th round and Ethan Bear in the 5th.

Since 2009 the Oilers have drafted five players beyond the second round that have ended up playing more than 100 games in the NHL and only one of them appears to be in the future plans of the club.

Jujhar Khaira was an early third rounder in 2012 and should be around Edmonton for a few more seasons. The Oilers also drafted Erik Gustafsson in 2012 but opted not to sign him; he put up 60 points with the Hawks this season.

Brandon Davidson was a 6th rounder in 2010; Anton Slepyshev was a third rounder in 2013 and of course, Tobias Rieder was selected in the 4th round of the 2011 draft.

THEN

The Oilers called Samorukov’s name on the second day of the 2017 draft in Chicago. (Side Note: The Chicago draft is also the only one in the past ten years that I “slept in” and missed the first part of my morning show. What a city.)

TSN’s Bob McKenzie had Samorukov 76th in his final rankings for the ’17 draft so the Oilers certainly weren’t reaching when they picked him 84th.

Here is a good pre-draft quote from Sportsnet’s Sam Cosentino.

“Great things were expected of Samorukov when he was picked second overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft. Playing on a rebuilding Guelph team, Samorukov was thrown into the fire, competing nightly in the toughest division in all the CHL. He showed durability, missing just one regular season game, and that’s important to note as he brings a physical element. Not afraid to support the rush or shoot the puck, there is some offensive upside to his game. He’s much more fluid skating backward than forward, but that is a skill he will continue to develop. Having participated for Russia on several occasions, his best international performance was his latest one, winning bronze for Russia at the world U-18s.”

I think the first part of that quote is telling. Samorukov was a highly touted prospect as a 16-year old and from what I’ve been told probably would have been drafted higher in the NHL if he had been in a better situation in his draft year.

He finished with 4 goals and 20 points in 67 games as a rookie with the Guelph Storm.

NOW

This year Samorukov put together a 45 point regular season before going supernova in the Ontario Hockey League playoffs. The two-way blueliner finished with 28 points in 24 games in the post-season.

I exchanged texts messages with an Ontario based scout who said “he’s finally living up to the ceiling I thought he had in his pre-draft year at the u18’s in Grand Forks. Carrying the puck more, using his shot, and night and day defensively compared to his first year in Guelph.”

The scout also told me that Samorukov outperformed Bouchard in the playoffs and despite what the numbers say he was likely the better of the two in the regular season as well.

NEXT

Oilers fans will get a chance to watch Samorukov at the Memorial Cup and if he plays the same way on that stage as he did in the OHL playoffs you can expect the hype train to be moving full steam ahead.

It is expected that Samorukov will begin next season in Bakersfield but it will be interesting to see how long he stays down there.

Samorukov’s Storm knocked off the Ottawa 67’s in the OHL Final and longtime voice of the 67’s AJ Jakubec tweeted this after the series.

AJ has watched elite prospects come out of the OHL for more than a decade so I’m buying what he’s selling here.

I won’t be surprised is Samorukov impresses in training camp and fans are calling for him to make the team but due to numbers on the NHL club he begins the season in Bako, which is a good thing.

I won’t be surprised if by December or January he is on the third pair here in Edmonton. The good news is that a full year in the AHL has never hurt anyone so if he doesn’t arrive full-time until the fall of 2020 nobody should be concerned.

JUST FOR FUN

2020-21 Oilers Defense

Klefbom – D-man via trade
Nurse – Bouchard
Samorukov/Jones – Larsson
Jones/Samorukov

What Say You?

Previously by Dustin Nielson:

  • Rebuilds30

    Now that we finally got rid of that albatross today with Puljujarvi going to Minny for Jared Spurgeon as well as a switch of first rounders, and the great progression of the Russian defenseman, it looks like a good start for new GM Kenny Holland.

  • Jason Gregor

    Good read. I don’t see Jones/Samorukov spending much time I pressbox. I’d rather #7 be a veteran who isn’t still developing. I see Jones in NHL and Samorukov getting time in AHL. Holland rarely rushes guys. Big jump from dominating OHL to the NHL.

  • Heschultzhescores

    It would be nice to see a guy actually come up and look as good in the NHL as the AHL or Jrs for a change. Maybe the more patient approach that Holland brings will be a difference maker. Him saying playoffs this year may rush his normal style. I hope not.

  • Ass Eatn Szn 69

    Jones Laggesson Bear and Perssons ahead of him. Bouchard despite the article probably is as well. Finally no need to rush a prospect, so oilers probably will anyways.

    • Big Nuggets

      I agree but I think Bouchards offensive ability will fast track him to the NHL. Maybe not straight out of training camp but I think he’ll likely finish the season on the Oilers.

  • GK1980

    New gm, new coach new systems. Again….. most likely translates to another lost season anyways. Why not just play the best players out of training camp regardless of experience or age. Who cares. Oil have nothing to lose. Expectations for the club are pretty low for next season anyways.

  • For the young guys to have a spot to move into, I would think that one or two defensemen need to be moved out. I’ll be interested to see who goes. And I’ll be equally interested to see if they get any decent wingers in the process.

  • BR

    It’s always preferable to get a guy into a full season or two of AHL coming from Junior unless they really truly are dominant. Even those players that come out flying in camp soon fade as the season goes on. Keep him and Bouchard in the AHL to start. Jones is more deserving of a shot before him, and I’m curious to see how Joel Persson looks as a offensive Dman on our third pairing.

  • OriginalPouzar

    Yup, I’ve said this a number of times recently, not that I think its reasonable to project him to get there, I think his ceiling is higher than Bouchard’s on the premise that his skill-set is broader, he’s got all the tools to be a true #1D. Of course, Bouchard’s offensive ceiling is higher and Bouchard is much more of a lock to be a 500 game NHL player and to be a top 4 NHL player, however, if everything goes perfectly for Samorukov, given that plus defending, the aggressiveness, the plus skating, the vision, the offensive IQ, the ability to transition by pass or skating, etc., he could be that guy.

    To be clear, I don’t expect him to pop in that way and I don’t put him ahead of Bouchard in any ranking – just talking about the ceiling.

  • OriginalPouzar

    As much as Samorukov is my favorite prospect right now (give or take a Willie Lagesson), I wouldn’t be projecting him anywhere near the NHL this year and likely not even at the start of next year.

    Massive potential but it needs to be developed. There is a huge gap between the CHL and the NHL. Not many d-men get go straight from the CHL to the NHL, generally only the elite are able to do so.

    There is no reason to rush this prospect (just like Bouchard) not with the depth of potential 3rd pairing d-men we have for next year.

    • OriginalPouzar

      Lets also not forget that each of Jones, Lagesson and Bear lose their waiver exempt status after this season so the organization MUST see what they have in these players. They will each get their NHL reps while Sammy develops in the appropriate league.

  • Arfguy

    With any luck, Holland being the GM means that all the European players on the team not named Draisaitl automatically kick it up to the next level. Anyone ever notice that after Yzerman, some of the best players the Red Wings had were Swedish or Russian?