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 Artyom Grushnikov Scouting Report.
The cancelled OHL season has played havoc on the draft years of a number of NHL Draft Prospects. Artyom Grushnikov was one of the most affected. Drafted in the first round, 16th Overall of the CHL Import Draft, Grushnikov committed to play the 2020-21 season for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. When the season never got started, Grushnikov did not play any competitive, organized hockey in his draft year. It is a big setback for the Russian defenceman, and scouts must project what he is based entirely on tape and viewings from the 2019-20 season and earlier. Domestically, Grushnikov had two goals and five points in 23 MHL games, while also seeing time in the U18 and U17 leagues that season.
In 2019-20 Grushnikov represented Russia at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup. While he did not score any points, he helped the Russians win the gold medal. He also played at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge. Grushnikov picked up two assists in six games. Once again, Grushnikov came home with a gold medal. He also won gold as a part of Team Russia at the 2018 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He scored a goal and four points in six games.
Artyom Grushnikov Scouting Report
Left Defence — shoots Left
Born March 20th, 2003 — Yegoryevsk, Russia
Height 6’2” — Weight 174 lbs [ 187 cm / 79 kg]
Grushnikov’s two-way game is based on his strong skating ability. He has good speed in both directions. His crossovers are powerful and provide him with good acceleration and power when skating backwards. He also gains speed quickly when going forward. Grushnikov can pinch at the line or join the rush and still get back defensively. He has strong agility as well as edgework. This helps him to maintain good gap control. It also allows him to walk the line in the offensive zone and create passing and shooting lanes. Grushnikov has crisp pivots. He transitions well from offence to defence and vice-versa. Grushnikov is very skinny and needs to fill out his frame. This will help him to be stronger on the puck and to win battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Grushnikov’s offensive game is the big wild-card here. He has been playing as an underage player in his international experiences with Russia and in the MHL. Facing older competition, could Grushnikov have been playing things too safe? Is this something where we would have seen him pinch more and rush the puck up the ice, and generally take more chances as he got more comfortable and developed? These were questions that analysts had as they hoped to see him with the Bulldogs. Unfortunately, that opportunity did not present itself.
Grushnikov does not seem comfortable with the puck on his stick. He seems to look to immediately find an outlet rather than carrying it up the ice or controlling it at the blueline. However, he is a good passer. Grushnikov makes smart reads and moves the ice out of his zone with a solid first pass. He seems to almost always hit his man in stride and start an effective transition game. In the offensive end, there are flashes where he opens up a passing lane and makes a smart pass to a teammate to generate a scoring chance. However, these are just flashes and not consistent right now.
Grushnikov also needs to add some power to his slap shot. When he shoots, he prefers the wrist shot and has decent power as well as an average release. This could be another area of his game that develops as he gets stronger.
Grushnikov is very good defensively. He reads the opponent extremely well and has a knack for breaking up plays in the neutral zone with a quick poke check or by stepping up with a hit. He is also aggressive and physical in his own end. Grushnikov does a good job of keeping the front of the net clear. He also wins battles along the boards and in front of the net. When the opponent is cycling, he does a good job of keeping him to the outside and cutting down the passing and shooting lanes.
With his high-end IQ and anticipation, Grushnikov is an excellent penalty killer for his age. He maintains his position and is willing to block shots and make it difficult for his opponents to hit the cross-seam pass. Once he gets an opportunity to get the puck out of the zone, he does so quickly and efficiently.
Projection and Comparison
Grushnikov is an intriguing prospect and a bit of a wild card in that he has lost a full year of development at perhaps the most important age for a young hockey player. There are plenty of projectable tools here but there are also big questions. His defensive game is very good and if it continues to develop will make him an NHLer. The question is if he has the offence to be more than just a depth piece. No one is asking for him to suddenly become Erik Karlsson, but some more poise with the puck and ability to carry it up the ice would really change his game. As it stands his game is reminiscent of Josh Gorges. This is a stylistic comparison only though, and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Artyom Grushnikov that are available on youtube as well as Twitter.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) November 5, 2018
Russia made it 3-0 after a rebound chance in front. Iliya Rychkov gets it from Marat Khusnutdinov and Artyom Grushnikov.
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) November 3, 2018
Watch as Artyom Grushnikov makes an amazing stretch pass to Ivan Didkovski to tie the Russia with Finland at the #WorldU17. The game now remains at 1-1 in the 3rd period. Gushnikov is a 2003 born player not eligible until the #2021NHLDraft. pic.twitter.com/lLVQLNmLn9
— TPEHockey (@TPEHockey) November 5, 2018
Check back later for our latest NHL Draft article.
Artyom Grushnikov Scouting Report Main Photo:
PLYMOUTH, MI – DECEMBER 12: Artyom Grushnikov #2 of the U17 Russian Nationals follows the play against the Slovakia Nationals during day-2 of game one of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena on December 12, 2018 in Plymouth, Michigan. Russia defeated Slovakia 6-1. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)