Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson 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”! Today we bring you our Roman Kantserov Scouting Report.
Roman Kantserov Scouting Report
Roman Kantserov, born September 20th, 2004, in Magnitogorsk, Russia, is a forward playing in the Russian hockey circuit. The 5’9” and 176 pound forward played almost his entire season in the MHL with Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk. There, he scored 27 goals and assists for 54 points in 45 contests. Meanwhile, he got one game at the KHL level, with no points to show for it.
Without any international play to show, and being undersized, it’s no surprise he wasn’t favored more highly with scouts. In fact, his rankings were between 32nd and 96th. Those rankings included 32nd by FCHockey, 42nd by Craig Button, 51st by The Hockey News, 56th by Draft Prospects Hockey, 57th by McKeen’s Hockey, 60th by Smaht Scouting, 62nd by Hockey Prospect Radio, 68th by Daily Faceoff, 69th by Bob McKenzie, 72nd by Elite Prospects, 95th by FloHockey, and 96th by Dobber Prospects.
Roman Kantserov Deep Dive
Despite the “Russian Factor” that has unfortunately played a role over the last couple years, no international resume due to Russia being taken out of major tournaments, and a smaller frame than most, he still got top-50 rankings. Not just that, but he was ranked top-50 by Craig Button, which is impacted by how NHL scouts feel. Is he what many people expect him to become? What concerns, on the ice, are there with Kantserov?
Roman Kantserov’s Skating
Kantserov is an above average skater. The main positive points lie in his edge work and acceleration. That’s arguably more important now, at an early age, than being fast. Once he moves over to North America, where the rinks are smaller, that acceleration and quick burst will come in more handy than top speed. That’s a testament to his crossovers and ability to complete tight turns without losing speed, as well as being able to change directions to stick with the play.
The down side is his speed and stride. The biggest reason for his speed being only above average is due to his choppy stride. If he can work on those extensions, and maximize his stride and his burst, his top speed will improve. That comes with more experience. However, with his size and smaller stature, speed will be more important the higher he climbs the hockey totem pole.
Kantserov is a very smart player on the offensive end. Away from the puck, he does a nice job looking and finding open space in the offensive zone. That vision also comes through with his playmaking abilities. He finds open teammates in good spots often, and generates a fair amount of chances. He is surprisingly impressive at hitting on passes to high-danger areas, and completing complicated pass attempts. While it isn’t consistent yet, there’s a surprising efficiency that he has with those passes.
As for his shooting, he knows when to take his shots, and he’ll never force a shot off because of pressure or because there’s no other play to be had. While he is more of a passer than a shooter, he keeps his game fairly well-balanced. But when he does shoot, his accuracy is mostly solid, but the power behind his shot leaves a lot to be desired. That could play into why he doesn’t force a lot of shots from the perimeter as well, but that inadvertently helps lift his game, funny enough.
Roman Kantserov’s Transitional Abilities
When it comes to moving the puck up ice, it isn’t a negative ability, but it hasn’t been totally positive either. Kantserov is surprisingly efficient when exiting the defensive zone when called upon. However, while he is fairly active entering the offensive end, he isn’t totally effective. He’s largely inefficient.
Kantserov is a smart player and a very good passer. But in the neutral zone, he struggles with his lack of high end speed and being smaller. In tight situations, he can get knocked off the puck. With the neutral zone being cluttered most of the time, that explains the problems that arise. While he generally does a good job getting off passes quickly, to avoid turning the puck over due to a bump, he still struggles with the lack of space.
Kantserov’s Defensive Zone Play
In the defensive zone, Kantserov can be a pain to deal with at times. His motor shows up with how he can pressure opposing puck carriers. He constantly looks for chances to come into a play and force turnovers with an active stick. Additionally, his acceleration allows him to win short races to pucks, which is an important trait.
However, his defensive game is a bit unorganized. While he is engaged in his own end, and tends to get involved fairly frequently, sometimes he’ll leave his man unmarked. Being more positionally aware will help him become a solid presence in his own end. As for forechecking, he lacks physicality, unsurprisingly, but is still effective on the forecheck. He is effective that way because of that same aforementioned active stick.
Roman Kantserov’s Potential
With a mostly solid two-way game, a balanced and effective offensive game, and a good motor, Kantserov isn’t exactly the boom-or-bust type, and more of a safer pick. That is, if he can play the same style effectively at a higher level than the MHL. Simply put, if he played in most any other league, he’d be a higher rated prospect. But still, from what was shown in the MHL, he looks like a future complementary piece within a team’s top nine. His abilities to flash as a playmaker, attack the slot and take advantage of an accurate shot, and a solid IQ in the offensive end, he looks the type to play with anyone. Especially because of the abilities he showed defensively.
Based on style only, and not a projection of skills, Kantserov is reminiscent of Alex Kerfoot. Kerfoot plays a sound three-zone game, with a balanced offensive skill set. Sticking with the offence, Kerfoot’s game is more focused on his playmaking, while his shot is good enough and used well enough to keep defenders guessing.
Kantserov doesn’t quite have the shot or the transitional abilities of Kerfoot, but one thing is clear. Kantserov’s style being similar in some senses to Kerfoot, such as being reliable in the offensive and defensive ends, has value to NHL GM’s. Who will be willing to take the Russian?
Raw stats via Elite Prospects
Main Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports