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After years of struggle, the Czech Republic is well on its way to re-establishing itself as a hockey power in recent years. They have had a number of strong performances at international tournaments in recent years. Last summer the Czechs finally won the Ivan Hlinka, the under 18 showcase event that they have hosted each summer since 1991. A big part of that victory was Ostap Safin who was used in all situations, and put up three goals and four points at the event. He has estabilished himself as a staple of Czech teams, also playing at the 2017 IIHF Under 18s, the Five Nations, and the 2015-16 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. His four points in five games at the U18 showed that his Hlinka performance was no fluke.
Domestically Safin played for Sparta Praha (Prague) this year. He bounced around, playing games for the Under-18 club, the Under-20 club, as well as the Czech Extraliga team. Just 17, he struggled at the highest level with two points in eight games. He was more successful with the Under 20 team, picking up 10 goals and 27 points in 30 games, combined over the regular season and playoffs.
Ostap Safin Scouting Report: 2017 NHL Draft #66
Centre — shoots Left
Born February 11th, 1999 — Praha, Czech Republic
Height 6’4″ — Weight 198 lbs [193 cm / 90 kg]
Most tall players have some skating issues heading into their draft. For Safin, this is not the case. He has a very good stride. It is long and and gives him very good acceleration as well as good top end speed. He also has power in his lower body, helping him to fight through checks and get to the front of the net. Safin uses this skating to take opponents wide and drive to the net. His edge work and agility are outstanding for his size. He can slip past defenders by using quick turns as well as stops and starts. This really helps him to avoid defenders, maintain possession and open up lanes in the cycle game.
A talented sniper, Ostap Safin can score goals in a variety of ways. He has the hands to finish in close to the net. He also has a hard, and accurate wrist shot. It features a quick release and can fool goaltenders. Safin also has a good one-timer. His offensive game also features Safin getting in quickly on the forecheck and playing a physical game. He is not afraid to battle in the corners or get to the front of the net.
Safin is not much of a play maker. He has the reach and stick handling skills to keep the puck away from defenders and extend plays. He also has the passing skills to make hard and accurate passes to teammates. There is something missing here though. While he shows the raw skill necessary, and has flashes of good play making ability, Safin does not do it consistently. Perhaps he does not have the on-ice vision to make the necessary plays. Perhaps he lacks the confidence to make creative plays. Whatever it is, the concern is that it will hold him back from maximizing his offensive potential.
Safin has a well-developed defensive game for his age. He has very good positioning. He also anticipates well, and can see plays developing and then break them up. A long, and active stick helps Safin cut down passing lanes. He is also willing to put his body on the line to block shots.
Projection and Comparison
Ostap Safin’s potential is the issue here. While others might see him as a potential top six centre, we really question that assessment. There are some good skills here, but an inability to put them all together and produce consistent offense is a bit of a red flag. However, one could see Safin being an effective third-liner, with a strong defensive game and some offensive ability. He might even be a good bet to get to the front of the net on the power play. In terms of a stylistic comparison, Safin resembles a better skating version of Brian Boyle. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not a talent based one.
The following is a compilation of highlights, assembled from Youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect available on our draft board.