2015 NHL Draft Profile #44: Denis Guryanov

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Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will feature a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2015 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports. Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 Draft Articles Click here.

Denis Guryanov has left his mark on the international junior stage for Russia, highlighted by his three goals and five points in six games at the January 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. This season, Gurayanov picked up three goals and four points at this year’s World Junior A Hockey Challenge, had a strong overall tournament at the Five Nations, and topped it off with seven goals and eight points in six games at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He was named a top three player on Russia for his efforts at the U18. Drafted 42nd overall in the 2014 KHL draft by Lada Togliatti, there may be questions about his willingness to play in North America, and when he might cross the pond. He spent the majority of this season with Lada’s junior (MHL) squad, where he was a league all-star. He did get a call-up for eight games in the men’s league where he picked up an assist.

Denis Guryanov

Right Wing – Shoots Left
Born Jun 7 1997 — Togliatti, Russia
Height 6.02 — Weight 183 [188 cm/83 kg]

Big, powerful, fast, skilled, Denis Guryanov has each box checked when it comes to talent amongst forward prospects. He scores goals, and can do it in a variety of ways.  Guryanov has the strength to drive the net, battle in the corners, fight through checks and score gritty power forward-style goals.  He is exceptional in board battles, digging out loose pucks consistently, and is a menace on the boards.  Guryanov also protects the puck extremely well in the cycle game, extending zone time and increasing possession for his club. He also has a heavy wrist shot with quick release, allowing him to fool goaltenders and score from further out. Guryanov adds the quick hands necessary to deke past defenders and it’s clear that he can be a pure sniper going forward.  However, he can be a bit too offensively-minded at times, and needs to do better at making the smart pass to a teammate in order to generate a better scoring opportunity, rather than attempting a very low percentage shot.

Denis Guryanov has the speed and acceleration necessary to beat defenders wide off the rush.  He has a quick first step and can use that along with his acceleration to be the first man on many loose pucks. A powerful stride also allows him to bowl right over a defender, or to carry a checker on his back as he drives the net.  He is very strong on his skates for a 17-year-old, with great lower body strength and balance.  This makes him very hard to knock off the puck.  Add good agility and edge-work and Guryanov can get by defenders in a variety of ways.  Defenders must respect his skating ability when he carries the puck up the ice on a rush, however if they back up too far giving him the option to use the defender as a screen, he is more than willing to unleash his powerful shot once he gets inside the face-off dots.

Defensively, Denis Guryanov shows a commitment to backchecking, and plays his gritty game along the boards in all three zones.  He shows tenacity in all three zones and is unafraid to make a hit to make the play, or take a hit to be sure he gets the puck out at his blue line.  Guryanov could use some work on his positioning however, as that does not seem to come naturally to him in the defensive end of the ice.  Moving to the smaller North American rinks, will require some coaching to refine this aspect of his game.

Guryanov is a ‘boom or bust’ prospect.  He has great skill and could certainly develop into a top-six forward for an NHL team.  However, the fact that he is playing in the KHL — and for his home town team no less — could make sign-ability an issue going forward.  The defensive refinements needed also mean he’d need some time to learn that aspect of the game before being ready to be fully trusted by an NHL coach, though his effort level is there. In terms of a stylistic comparison, he can look like Andrei Kostitsyn but with a more consistent game-to-game effort level and better hockey sense.  This is a stylistic comparison only though, and not one based on talent.

Below are some highlights of Guryanov in action.

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