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 2020 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 Daniil Gushchin.
Coming to the USHL in 2018-19, Russian winger Daniil Gushchin has made an impact on the Muskegon Lumberjacks. In his rookie season, he scored 16 goals and 20 assists for 36 points in 51 games. This season he put up 22 goals and 25 assists for 47 points in 42 games. He was named to the USHL Third All-Star Team.
Gushchin has regularly represented Russia at the international level, even playing multiple tournaments as an underage player. At the 2017 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge he scored one goal and five points in five games. Gushchin represented Russia at the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup. He put up three goals and six points in five games and won a bronze medal. At the 2018 Under-17, he scored four goals and six points in six games, winning a gold medal. At the 2019 IIHF Under 18 World Championships, he scored one goal and one assist for two points in seven games and won a silver medal. Gushchin scored one goal and one assist in five games at the 2019 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup and won another gold medal. He also picked up a gold medal at the 2019 World Junior A Hockey Challenge, scoring three goals in six games.
Daniil Gushchin Scouting Report
Left Wing/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born February 6th, 2002 — Yekaterinberg, Russia
Height 5’8″ — Weight 165 lbs [173 cm/75 kg]
An undersized forward, Gushchin makes up for it with his strong skating ability. He has very good top-end speed. He reaches that speed in just a few strides with a quick first step and good acceleration. His ability to change speeds is also a weapon he can use on the rush. Gushchin’s edgework and agility are outstanding. He can change directions on a dime. This makes him extremely elusive and very hard to contain in one-on-one situations. Gushchin has a low centre of gravity and this helps his balance and allows him to be strong on the puck. However, he will need to get stronger for this to remain a strength against professional opponents.
Gushchin has outstanding hands. He can make plays while moving at top speed. He can also stickhandle in a phone booth, making a number of nifty dangles or slick moves in tight spaces. Gushchin is very difficult to contain in one-on-one situations as a result. He sees the ice extremely well and can anticipate where his teammates are going. With a quick move, he can open up a passing lane and get it to a teammate for a scoring chance. He is not afraid to take the puck to the dirty areas of the ice or to take a hit to make a play. Gushchin has the ability to speed up or slow down the play. He controls things on the half-boards or at the point on the power play, setting up scoring chances.
Gushchin’s bread and butter is his playmaking ability but he can also score goals. He has a quick release on his wrist shot and is very accurate. His shot could use more power in order to score from further out as he currently scores the majority of his goals in tight. He also has the quick hands to beat the goalie in tight. Gushchin is effective as a forechecker thanks to his speed. He can chase down opponents and force them into mistakes. He is willing to fight for loose pucks but is not a big hitter.
Gushchin needs to be more consistent in his defensive game. There are times he is dogged in chasing down loose pucks and trying to create a turnover by stealing the puck from an opponent. When he pays attention to details, he gets himself into good positions to make plays to get the puck back and start the transition game. However, there are other times when Gushchin stops moving his feet and starts puck watching in the defensive zone. He occasionally flies the zone early, looking to create an offensive chance instead of making sure the puck is cleared. With more maturity, it is hoped he will be committed to a responsible game.
Projection and Comparison
Gushchin’s offensive skills make him a real boom or bust prospect. He will need to improve his strength to reach the next level. Gushchin will also need to improve his defensive game or he will drive coaches crazy. He will also need to overcome his lack of size. Gushchin has not committed to a university yet. His WHL rights are owned by the Regina Pats, who drafted him in last year’s CHL Import Draft. Some time in the WHL before hitting the pro ranks would certainly be beneficial. Gushchin’s game is reminiscent of Johnny Gaudreau. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Daniil Gushchin that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Daniil Gushchin Main Photo:
Tonight’s game isn’t open to the public, but live audio will be available here: https://t.co/prLi5yS3lM Tune in a 5:30pm as Daniil Gushchin and the Jacks take on Team USA! #LGLJ pic.twitter.com/z5RpmS7IvF
— Muskegon Lumberjacks (@MuskegonJacks) September 12, 2018