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 2021 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 bring you our Nikita Chibrikov Scouting Report.
Russian forward Nikita Chibrikov bounced around the various Russian leagues this year, getting time playing against men in the KHL and VHL, while also having games in the MHL junior league. Play for Russian powerhouse SKA St. Petersburgh, Chibrikov played 16 KHL games scoring one goal and one assist. He added three goals and eight assists for 11 points in 20 VHL games. Playing against other teenagers, Chibrikov scored three goals and six assists for nine points in 11 games. He also added three assists in five playoff games.
Chibrikov really made his mark at the recent IIHF Under-18 World Championship. He put up four goals and nine assists for 13 points in seven tournament games, helping the Russian team to a silver medal. He led the tournament in assists and was named a top-three player on the Russian team. In 2019-20, Chibrikov also appeared at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored three goals and five assists for eight points in six games, helping the Russian team to a gold medal. He played for the Russian men’s team at the recent European Hockey Tournament, putting up a goal and three points in three games.
Nikita Chibrikov Scouting Report
Left Wing/Right Wing — shoots Left
Born February 16th, 2003 — Moskva, Russia
Height 5’10” — Weight 172 [178 cm / 78 kg]
Chibrikov is an excellent skater. While his first few steps and acceleration could use a little work, as they are just slightly above average, once he reaches top speed he is really moving. He can beat defenders wide on the rush and cut to the front of the net. A slippery player both with and without the puck, Chibrikov has excellent agility and edgework. He is difficult to defend both off the rush and in the offensive zone. Chibrikov has a low centre of gravity and a strong lower body that helps him to be stronger on the puck than most teenagers. He will still need to add weight to really compete in board battles in front of the net and on the boards, but he is advanced for his age.
Chibrikov is a very good playmaker. He has excellent vision and anticipation, reading the play and anticipating the movements of his teammates and opponents. When a scoring opportunity presents itself, he finds his man and gets him the puck. He can pass the puck through tight lanes and can saucer the puck over sticks. With quick hands and good lateral agility, he can make a quick move to open a lane. Chibrikov protects the puck well. He can control the puck in the offensive zone and give his teammates time to get open. He is also good at carrying the puck through the neutral zone and creating effective zone entries.
Chibrikov can also score goals. He has a very good wrist shot and a quick release. His hands allow him to vary the angle of that release, fooling goaltenders. He can do a quick toe-drag before getting his shot off. Chibrikov also has an accurate snap shot. He could add more muscle and improve the power on these shots. He needs to be inside the faceoff dots to be really dangerous right now. His slap shot could also use a little bit of work. Chibrikov works hard to battle along the boards and in front of the net. He doesn’t throw a lot of hits, but he is strong on his skates and able to battle through checks. Chibrikov really loves to take the puck to high danger areas and doesn’t back down. He also does a good job of using his low centre of gravity to win board battles.
Chibrikov’s attention to detail in the defensive zone could use some work. He tends to puck watch a little, not keeping his feet moving and losing his man. His lack of size can also be an issue when working down low against a cycling forward. Chibrikov needs to stay disciplined. He can fly the zone early, looking for a breakaway pass. While this sometimes works, when it does not, it leaves his team at a disadvantage. With some strong coaching he should be able to get past these flaws.
Projection and Comparison
According to Elite Prospects, Chibrikov’s contract with SKA lasts through the 2022-23 season. As such he is at least two years away from coming to North America. That time should be useful though, as he will be playing high-level hockey with SKA. Chibrikov can utilize this opportunity to continue to round out his game and become a better player. Expect to see him in next year’s world juniors. Chibrikov could become a top-six winger if he reaches his potential. Chibrikov’s game is reminiscent of T.J. Oshie. This is a stylistic comparison only though, not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Nikita Chibrikov that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for our next NHL Draft article.
Nikita Chibrikov Scouting Report Main Photo:
Embed from Getty Images
Russia’s Nikita Chibrikov (L) and Czech Republic’s Petr Kodytek during Euro Hockey Tour game between Russia and Czech Republic on February 14, 2021, at Malmoe Arena in Sweden. (Photo by Andreas HILLERGREN / TT NEWS AGENCY / AFP) / Sweden OUT (Photo by ANDREAS HILLERGREN/TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP via Getty Images)