During the 2019-2020 season, London Knights forward Ruslan Gazizov was just too good for Avangard Omsk in Russia’s Under-16 league so he almost immediately moved up to the Under-17 with Avangard. And he took that league by storm as well.
The following season saw him begin with Avangard Under-17 and again was playing above most others so he moved up once again, this time to the MHL (Russia’s equivalent to the CHL) but that transition was a little slow.
Last summer, Gazizov represented Russia at the Hlinka – Gretzky Cup and helped lead Russia to a gold medal with 3 goals and 7 helpers in 5 games.
Gazizov, the 12th overall pick at the Canadian Hockey League Import Draft has been a bit of an enigma in his first OHL season. While he has displayed on many occasions that he has the high-end offensive skills that can make him a dangerous weapon, especially on the powerplay, he isn’t always used as his skill set suggests. And that is typical of a Dale Hunter coached team because you have to give the 200-foot effort as well and that is lacking at the moment in Gazizov’ s game.
I had hoped his skating was better than advertised. While technically, there aren’t any issues with his skating, he could improve all facets of his speed game. I’ve said this many times before, it’s not a big issue as I believe a good skating coach will bring him along.
Gazizov has some excellent hands and while he is at his best with time and space and using his vision and slick passing skills to create opportunities, he is also capable of stickhandling in tight and maintaining possession before distributing the puck.
While the offensive skills are there and he has shown the ability to be a creative playmaker, Gazizov projects to be a complimentary piece on a line rather than the driver on it. He could be a top six forward at the NHL level, but he’s going to have to put in some work in areas other than offence.