Drafted 91st overall by the Edmonton Oilers.
Due to the lack of a transfer agreement, and the ever present lure of big money jobs in the KHL, we have seen a number of talented Russian players fall in the NHL Draft in recent years. We have also seen the total number of Russian players drafted fall dramatically. One way for a Russian hockey player to work to defeat the “Russian Factor” having a big effect on his draft stock is to come to North America and play junior hockey in one of the leagues here. At the age of16 Daniil Zharkov did exactly that, joining the Tri-City Storm of the USHL. After a season in the USHL, Zharkov was drafted 11th overall in the CHL Import Draft by the OHL’s Belleville Bulls, where he joins teammates Brendan Gaunce, and Malcolm Subban as highly rated draft prospects. In fact, Zharkov and Gaunce formed instant chemistry and became 2/3rds of Belleville’s top line this past season. Zharkov was yet another victim of the 2012 Draft Injury Curse. He was forced to miss the start of the 2011-12 season after suffering a broken collarbone in training camp. However once he joined the Bulls’ lineup there was no looking back.
Born Feb 6 1994 — St. Petersburg, Russia
Height 6.03 — Weight 200 — Shoots L
Zharkov is a very talented player. He comes with ideal size, at 6’3″, however he will need to pack some additional muscle on to his frame, and add strength in order to succeed at the NHL level. Zharkov uses his size to his advantage as he is an aggressive player who forechecks effectively, wins board battles, and understands how to drive the net. He has a fantastic shot which is hard and accurate, and a very good release on his wrist shots, snap shots, and slap shots. A natural sniper, Zharkov showed off this ability as soon as he joined the Belleville lineup in November, with 9 points in his first 8 games. Zharkov also has impressive stickhandling and protects the puck well helping him to create offensive chances. He could however stand to improve upon his vision and passing skills.
Zharkov is a very good skater for his size. He has good edgework, agility and acceleration. Zharkov possesses a long powerful stride and reaches his top end speed quickly. The top end speed is above average, and this helps him to beat defencemen off the rush. He does need to work on his balance and his strength on the puck as he can be knocked off of it at times. We do however feel that this will come with added lower body and core strength.
Defensively Zharkov has an uncanny ability to pokecheck and steal pucks from his opponents. This helps him to create turnovers and quick strike offence. However Zharkov does need to continue to work on his defensive positioning and hockeyIQ in his own end of the rink.
Zharkov’s biggest issue, however, is his consistency. He is the type of player who will have extremely good, hot streaks, and follow those up with an extremely frigid, cold stretch. While this is something we see out of many natural snipers, and is probably unavoidable, Zharkov must work to remain physically and defensively involved when the goals aren’t going in for him, something he can fail to do at times, turning invisible if he isn’t producing offence.
Zharkov is another boom or bust prospect. He’s certainly lessened the typical Russian KHL factor by coming to North America and playing in the USHL and then OHL the last two seasons. Zharkov does however need to work on his consistency, and his defensive game before he will be an NHL player. If Zharkov can fix those flaws he has a bright NHL career ahead of him. We’d rate his maximum potential to be a player similar to Martin Havlat of the San Jose Sharks.
… and thats the Last Word.