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 Kirill Kirsanov Scouting Report.
It is rare that an 18-year-old defenceman gets time playing for one of the best teams in the KHL but that is exactly what happened for Kirill Kirsanov this year. He played mostly on the third pairing, but still got minutes for SKA St. Petersburg. Kirsanov played 29 KHL games, mostly playing in a defensive role. He scored just three assists. He also played six playoff games, picking up one assist. Kirsanov played four games for the VHL affiliate, scoring a goal and an assist. He also played eight games in the MHL, scoring four assists. In the MHL playoffs, he picked up one goal in two games.
Kirsanov also has been involved for Russia on the international level. Last season, he played for the Russian World Junior team. He picked up a goal and an assist for two points in seven games. He also played three games for the Russian Men’s Team in the Karjala Cup. In 2019-20 Kirsanov put up two assists in five games in helping the Russian team to gold at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. He also played at the 2018 Under-17 WHC, scoring two assists in six games and again winning gold.
Kirill Kirsanov Scouting Report
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born September 19th, 2002 — Tver, Russia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 198 lbs [185 cm / 90 kg]
Kirsanov can use some work on his skating. He has a short and choppy stride. This can rob him of speed and power in both directions. He makes up with it with his intelligence and smart positioning, but Kirsanov’s speed is just slightly above average and is not on par with the better skaters in his draft class. However, there are good aspects of his skating as well. His pivots are crisp, which allows him to transition quickly from defence to offence and vice-versa. He also has good lateral agility which helps him to maintain good gap control. Kirsanov can stand to add muscle to his frame. He is decent at winning battles along the boards and in front of the net but will get even better as he matures.
While he has not put up big offensive numbers to date, there are flashes of offensive ability in Kirsanov’s game. He is a very good passer. Kirsanov shows good vision and the ability to move the puck up the ice quickly, clearing the defensive end and starting the transition game. He also shows flashes of being a playmaker at the blue line. Generally, he lacks patience and moves the puck quickly to an open teammate, even if keeping it to the outside. However, there are also times when he shows that patience and makes a cross-ice pass to set up a scoring chance. This happens more often when playing in junior tournaments, as he has more freedom than when playing against men.
Kirsanov also needs some work on his slap shot. The power may improve as he grows and gets stronger. He could also work on being more accurate and getting the puck on the net through heavy traffic. He is more effective with his wrist shot. This is another area where he needs to use his skills more. When he does sneak down from the point and to the top of the faceoff circles, he lets it go with a lot of power. He also has a deceptive release which can fool goaltenders.
Kirsanov is extremely advanced defensively given his age. He reads the play extremely well and is almost always in the right position. He funnels attackers to the outside and away from the net. Kirsanov has good gap control and is tough to beat in one-on-one situations. He is willing to play a physical game, capable of throwing a big hit as well as battling along the boards and in front of the net. Kirsanov is disciplined though. He does not get himself out of position looking for that hit. He is also good at using his stick to cut down passing lanes. When turnovers are created, Kirsanov quickly moves the puck up the ice with a good first pass. He is very poised and rarely seems to panic under pressure.
Projection and Comparison
Kirsanov has the skills to play a defensive role in the top four of an NHL team if he continues his development. However, he is more likely to be the complementary part of a strong pair than a play driver. He will need time to get stronger and fill out his frame. Kirsanov also needs time to develop his offensive potential. He has skills in this area but has not put up the offensive production yet. According to EliteProspects, Kirsanov is signed with SKA through the 2022-23 season, so he’s a bit of a long-term project. It could be a worthwhile one though. Kirsanov’s game is reminiscent of Marc-Edouard Vlasic, 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 and features of Kirill Kirsanov that are available on youtube as well as Twitter.
#WJC: LHD Kirill Kirsanov (2021/2002) puts Russia in front 3-2 with this perfect shot inside the far post. He rarely shoots it but he certainly picked the right spot here.
8:05 left to go in the third period. If Russia hangs on they win Group B pic.twitter.com/2XGyORcw8W
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) December 31, 2020
Matvei Michkov credited with the primary assist on this goal by Yegor Spiridonov (#SJSharks). Though not credited yet, Kirill Kirsanov (2021) should also receive an assist on this with the initial pass in front.
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) September 10, 2020
— Pascal Lapointe (@PascalLapointe_) April 1, 2021
Today in #MHL action, SKA is going for their 16th straight win to open the season. Yes, they're 15-0-0.
— Brandon Holmes (@BHolmes_Hockey) October 17, 2019
Very much liked this zone exit from Kirill Kirsanov (2021), leading to a good chance for Russia. pic.twitter.com/gwCLykugBi
— draft guy (@DraftLook) December 31, 2020
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 6, 2021
Check back later for our latest draft article.
Kirill Kirsanov Scouting Report Main Photo:
EDMONTON, AB – JANUARY 05: Kirill Kirsanov #20 of Russia skates against Roni Hirvonen #22 of Finland during the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship bronze medal game at Rogers Place on January 5, 2021 in Edmonton, Canada. (Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)