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The 13th overall pick in the 2015 CHL Import Draft, Vitali Abramov went on to have a tremendous season for the Gatineau Olympiques and be named the QMJHL Rookie of the Year. He put up 38 goals and 55 assists for 93 points in 63 games. He was even better in the playoffs with seven goals and 13 points in 10 games, but his Olympiques fell in the second round to the Moncton Wildcats. Abramov has international experience as he was a big part of the Russian team that won the 2015 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. Abramov put up three goals and nine points in six games during the tournament. Abramov also played in this year’s CHL Top Prospects game with Team Cherry. Before coming to North America, Abramov was part of the Traktor Chelyabinsk youth hockey development system.
Abramov did not seem to make many friends in Russian when he spurned the chance to play for the Russian Under 18 Development Team and instead ply his trade in the QMJHL. This decision caused Russian U18 head coach Mikhail Prokhorov to say that players who went overseas would not be part of the national team. KHL president Dmitri Chernyshenko said that “Abramov moved to the unknown.” As such Abramov didn’t get a chance to play for Team Russia in the Subway Super Series. He also wasn’t even given a tryout for the World Junior team despite the fact he has dominated in the QMJHL. However, given the current state of the U18 team, and the melodonium scandal, it seems that Abramov is the one laughing today.
Vitali Abramov Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #35
Right Wing/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born May 8 1998 — Chelyabinsk, Russia
Height 5.09 — Weight 170 [175 cm/77 kg]
Vitali Abamov may be slightly undersized, but there are more and more undersized players succeeding in the NHL today. One thing that Abramov has in common with the most successful of these undersized players is that he is an outstanding skater. He has great speed and tremendous acceleration, allowing him to blow past opponents on the rush. He also has great agility, allowing him to make quick cuts and beat defenders one-on-one. Add in a strong lower body, and low centre of gravity and Abramov has the balance and power to be strong on the puck and to fight through checks. For a 5’9″ player, he is surprisingly good in one-on-one battles along the boards.
Abramov marries his skating ability with soft hands and good stick handling ability and this makes him very tough to defend one-on-one, whether it be off the rush, or working the puck down low. He can stick handle in a phone both, making Abramov a nightmare for defenders even when they try to take away his time and space. If he gets that space, look out. Abramov is a pure goal scorer, as he has an excellent wrist shot with a quick release. He also has a very good snap shot, slap shot and one-timer. He can also play the role of play maker with good vision and passing skills. While Abramov has good lower body strength, he must continue to get stronger in his upper body to take the physical pounding he could face at the next level.
Abramov works hard defensively, as he is conscientious on the back check, and tries to help out the defence down low. Unfortunately this is the biggest area where his lack of size is exposed, as he can be outmuscled by bigger, stronger opponents. He must add upper body strength in order to improve his defensive game.
Vitali Abramov is a real boom or bust prospect. His skating ability and high end skill suggest a prospect that could develop into a top 6 player who could score a lot of points at the NHL level. However, if he doesn’t reach that high end potential, its unlikely that he can fall back into a lower line role as his size will always be a bit of an issue. Abramov’s game is comparable to Mats Zuccarello of the New York Rangers, but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent.
The following is a compilation of Vitali Abramov highlights, taken from youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #36 prospect on our NHL Draft board.