Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 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 Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Russian forward Mikhail Shalagin.
After being passed over in two straight drafts, Mikhail Shalagin needed a huge season to get back on the radar for the 2019 NHL Draft. That is exactly what he did, winning the MHL MVP award after putting up 48 goals and 27 assists for 75 points in 45 games. Shalagin led the MHL in goals. He was also named the league’s best forward in both January and February. Those numbers are impossible to ignore, especially for a forward who comes in at six-foot-four. However, at just 168 pounds, Shalagin still needs to add muscle to his frame. His 48 goals in 43 games shattered the league record of 42 in 54.
He also played four KHL games for Spartak Moscow, as well as seven VHL games (scoring two goals) for Khimik Voskresensk. Shalagin was also invited to play some exhibition games with the Under-20 Russian National Team, putting up one goal in three appearances.
This is an improvement over last season when he scored 33 goals and 30 assists for 63 points in 63 MHL games. He also played three games in VHL, not recording any points in the 2017-18 season.
Mikhail Shalagin Scouting Report
Right Wing/Left Wing — Shoots Left
Born September 12th, 1999 — Moscow, Russia
Height 6’4″ — Weight 168 lbs [192 cm/76 kg]
Shalagin’s skating has been the biggest reason why he has been undrafted in his first two times through the NHL Draft. That said, his skating improved this past season. While he is never going to be called a speedster, he has shown that he can keep up with the play and his speed and acceleration are not a liability. He also shows decent footwork and agility for a big man but there is continued room for improvement in these areas as well. Shalagin is tall and lanky. He really could stand to put some core body muscle on his frame. This would help him to be stronger on the boards and stronger on the puck.
Shalagin is a pure sniper. His wrist shot and snapshot are huge weapons. They have power and are very accurate. He also has a very quick release, allowing him to fool goaltenders from further out. Shalagin’s one-timer is also a real weapon. He can also score from in tight to the net. His hands are quick and skilled. Shalagin can quickly pounce on rebounds and beat the goalie. He also does a good job of providing a screen in front of the net and can deflect the puck past the goalie.
While he is best known as a sniper, Shalagin also has playmaking ability. His quick hands allow him to change the angle of the puck quickly, opening up a shooting or passing lane. When such a lane exists, he can feather the puck through it, finding an open teammate. Shalagin sees the ice well and makes smart plays with the puck. He could stand to improve his strength. His lanky body limits his ability to be effective in the dirty areas of the ice and along the boards. As such, there is a bit of a tendency to play a perimeter-based game.
Shalagin is willing to work in his own end of the ice. His size and long stick are a good tool in cutting down passing lanes and making things difficult. He needs to continue to work on his positioning and discipline though. He can leave his man to chase the puck carrier and will need to break this habit going forward. His lack of upper body strength can also cause issues in his own end. He is not physical and has some issues containing against bigger forwards who cycle the puck well.
Projection and Comparison
Shalagin’s size and skill are an intriguing combination. He will need to add muscle and continue to work on his skating going forward. This makes him a bit of a project. While he has some serious deficiencies, the skills he possesses are also at a very high level. This means that if he can correct those deficiencies he could have an excellent NHL career. Shalagin may be a bit of a gamble, and there is a chance he could be a bust, but if he can develop there is also real high-end potential here. His game is reminiscent of Alex Semin but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages of Mikhail Shalagin that are available on youtube and daily motion.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
MOSCOW, RUSSIA SEPTEMBER 27, 2018: Spartak Moscow’s head coach Vadim Yepanchintsev (back) and players Yaroslav Kosov, Maxim Tsyplakov, Mikhail Shalagin, Ilya Zubov (L-R front) in their 2018-19 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match against HC CSKA Moscow at CSKA Arena. Mikhail Japaridze/TASS (Photo by Mikhail JaparidzeTASS via Getty Images)