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 2022 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 Danny Zhilkin Scouting Report.
Drafted in the first round, #14 Overall, by the Guelph Storm in the 2019 OHL Priority Selection Draft, Danny Zhilkin had a breakout season after missing the 2020-21 season due to the COVID pandemic. He started hot right out of the gate with 15 points in his first 16 games. Zhilkin couldn’t quite keep up that pace but still posted 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points in 66 games. He also added one goal and one assist in four playoff games. Unfortunately, the Storm fell in the first round. They lost in five games to the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. It was still a big improvement from Zhilkin’s rookie season. In 2019-20 he struggled to adjust to the OHL. Zhilkin had just seven goals and 15 points in 60 games before the season was shut down.
Despite not playing during the 2020-21 season, Zhilkin still made Team Canada for the 2021 IIHF Under-18 World Championships. He picked up two assists in seven games and helped Team Canada to a gold medal. He also played for Team Canada Black in the 2019-20 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Zhilkin scored four goals and six points in the five-game tournament.
Danny Zhilkin Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born December 19th, 2003 — Moscow, Russia (moved to Mississauga, Ontario at age 9)
Height 6’0.75″ — Weight 196 lbs [185 cm/ 89 kg]
Zhilkin is an excellent skater. His stride shows textbook technique with good knee and ankle bend. This helps him to have very good acceleration and top-end speed. Zhilkin puts pressure on the defence off the rush. He can take his man wide, drop his shoulder and cut to the net. With good agility and edgework, he makes quick cuts and changes in direction. This allows him to weave through traffic and avoid defenders, with the puck as well as away from the play. He is strong on his skates for his size. Zhilkin fights through checks and keeps moving. He also is effective at winning battles on the boards as well as establishing position in front of the net.
Zhilkin marries his skating ability with good hands. This allows him to carry the puck through the neutral zone and make plays off the rush. As defenders have to back off to respect his speed, it opens up passing and shooting lanes. His strong lateral movement allows him to weave through traffic and find open space. This generates efficient zone entries. He also does a good job of protecting the puck down low and working the cycle game. Zhilkin’s passing skills can be improved though. He is a bit of a risk-taker. This can lead to an excellent cross-ice pass to set up a teammate for a scoring chance. However, there are also times when he tries too hard to make a play and this leads to a turnover.
Zhilkin can also be a goal scorer. His wrist shot is powerful and accurate. It also features a very quick release. Zhilkin is able to make a quick move with the puck just before shooting it, changing the angle of his release and fooling goaltenders. He can get to the net where he can beat a goalie with a quick deke and elevating the puck. Zhilkin is able to find open ice in front of the net when he doesn’t have the puck. With his hands, he can pounce on a rebound or get a deflection. Zhilkin can create offence through strong forechecking and winning battles on the boards as well.
Zhilkin is also a strong defensive player. He is good in the face-off circle. Zhilkin has been used as a penalty killer at both the IIHF Under-18s with Team Canada and in the OHL with Guelph. He reads the play well and uses his positioning and active stick to create turnovers. Zhilkin keeps his man to the outside and forces him into bad shooting areas. His quick stick is also good at poke-checking opponents and creating turnovers. When one is created, he’s quick to transition the puck up the ice and create offence. He can skate the puck out of the zone as well as make a good first pass. Zhilkin is also not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots.
Projection and Comparison
With Zhilkin’s size, speed, and defensive play he has a high floor and could make the NHL as a third or fourth-line centre. However, there is also a chance that he will continue to develop and become a top-six player. Zhilkin will need to become more consistent though. As a December birthdate, Zhilkin only needs to play one more season of OHL hockey before he is ready for the AHL. He will need time in both leagues though, to continue to get stronger and to work on becoming a more consistent offensive producer. Zhilkin’s game is reminiscent of Nico Hischer 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 Danny Zhilkin that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Danny Zhilkin makes it 4-2 after scoring high over Blackburn to cut the lead in half.
The commentator said the score was in favour of Ontario, but they trail 4-2. #OHLDraft #CWG2019 pic.twitter.com/Tg3j47JtCh
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) February 19, 2019
Connor Bedard tipped in Danny Zhilkin's shot and Canada leads 3-0 on five shots.
Suchanek is out after a couple of rough goals. #U18Worlds pic.twitter.com/f73soeBJ4y
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisTHN) May 3, 2021
OH MY DANNY ZHILKIN!!! 3 goals in the first period after Danny Dangles tips home his first of the playoffs off a shot pass from Cam Allen! #GoStormGo pic.twitter.com/qtr5X1plZS
— Guelph Storm (@Storm_City) April 26, 2022
Danny Zhilkin opens the scoring late 1st period in London. 1-0 Guelph. pic.twitter.com/Q5FjVti0qz
— Mike Stubbs (@stubbs980) January 23, 2022
Check out the backhand from #NHLDraft prospect Danny Zhilkin 🔥🔥pic.twitter.com/TtNydPnfjM
— Canadian Hockey League (@CHLHockey) February 12, 2022
Over in Guelph, Danny Zhilkin gets the shootout winner as the Storm top the Soo Greyhounds 3-2!#OHL #rookies pic.twitter.com/avfXiPCC2F
— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) February 17, 2020
Danny Dangles pulls up and snipes in OT!
2022 #NHLDraft prospect Danny Zhilkin's 20th brings @Storm_City all the way back from down 5-2 to stun rival Owen Sound 🎥 pic.twitter.com/KEqWU2UUQt
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) April 2, 2022
Well that didn't take long. 😯
Danny Zhilkin scores 9 seconds into OT off a turnover. The Guelph Storm beat the Knights 4-3, handing London their second straight loss. #OHL pic.twitter.com/xbcjGbOZJC
— For Future Considerations (@PodcastFFC) November 10, 2021
Brandt Clarke's (@OHLBarrieColts) shot is deflected in by Danny Zhilkin (@Storm_City), and Team Canada Black tie the game with less than 2 minutes to go! 🇨🇦⚫️#OHL #WorldU17 pic.twitter.com/W4IcFtfAuM
— Caitlin Berry (@caitlinsports) November 6, 2019
Danny Zhilkin showing off his skill with this insane goal at the Chowder Cup! @SportsCentre @Sportsnet @spittinchiclets @barstoolsports @espn @theScore pic.twitter.com/dC2I0b19nn
— Maroon Hockey Group (@MaroonProspects) July 21, 2018
No surprise here — Shane Wright (@KingstonFronts) opens the scoring for Team Red at the CHL Top Prospects Game, finishing the 2-on-1 play.
Danny Zhilkin (@Storm_City) gets the assist on the play.
(🎥: TSN) pic.twitter.com/SKvC5E3q5A
— EP Rinkside (@EPRinkside) March 24, 2022
Turning on the afterburners 💨
Watch as 2022 #NHLDraft prospect Danny Zhilkin (@ZhilkinDanny) cuts through a pair of defenders to score his team-leading fourth of the pre-season in Thursday's @Storm_City win 🚨 pic.twitter.com/S9x6t9rOpk
— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 1, 2021
Check back tomorrow for our latest 2022 NHL Draft Article.
Danny Zhilkin Scouting Report Main Photo:
At 9, Danny Zhilkin packed up his life on a whim and moved to Canada with his mom, brother and sister.
A new school, home, language and life later, he’s about to make his #NHLDraft dream happen.
On an impressive kid and player, and a leap of faith: https://t.co/aWZPnP9oKk pic.twitter.com/KKAyJ0k2mi
— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) May 21, 2022